February 22

5 Tips to Help You Prepare for International Business Travel

download (27)Travel overseas for business can be a fun adventure, but it also needs to be taken seriously. Before traveling to another country, whether for work or pleasure, it’s important to learn the customs and procedures of your destination, while also preparing yourself for your trip.

As a business traveler, you’re not only representing your country of origin to all of those you meet, but you are also a representative of your company. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the country you are planning on visiting as a way to show respect.

Besides requiring the correct documents like a visa and passport, there are other obligations you will likely need to complete before making your way overseas. Many of these requirements are specific to a particular destination based on the laws and regulations for the countries you are visiting. Make sure you do your homework well in advance so you know each of these requirements.

5 Tips for Overseas Business Travel

International travel for business can be a very exciting opportunity. You not only get to see new and interesting parts of the world, but you even get paid while doing it. In order to have the best experience possible, there are things you can do in advance to prepare. Here are five tips to help execute the perfect international business trip.

    1. Create an Organized Itinerary: Make sure that your days are packed with opportunities to help your company. Scheduling time for appointments, meetings, and personal time is very important to executing a beneficial international business trip. An itinerary should be a good guide for your trip’s goals and achievements. Because you do not want to waste any time on this trip, it’s better to plan in advance to take full advantage of the opportunity.
    1. Learn about the Culture and Customs: Before landing in said country, it’s important to understand the environment, culture and practices of this region. Knowing up-to-date news and information about your international travel destinations will help you avoid inappropriate comments or disrespectful behavior. Not only is it important to understand the culture, but it is also beneficial to know protocols, customs and etiquette as well. This includes things like: common greetings, religious practices, business manners, dietary practices, and acceptable humor.
    1. Learn the Native Tongue: While not every business trip requires learning a whole new language, it’s always advisable to seek out some basic vocabulary for the region you are visiting. The use of a translator might be beneficial as well. Communication is a huge part of business and breaking down those barriers will only help you with your business endeavors.
    1. Protect Yourself: Traveling internationally can be exciting, but also very stressful and sometimes dangerous. A new environment can mean new hazards and threats. Don’t avoid protecting yourself to save money. Sometimes travel insurance is a valuable way to reduce the risk of health crises and other types of risks.
  1. Stay Connected: Plan to use your communication devices while staying overseas. Make sure that your plan is available in other countries, or rent a cellphone from the airport. Communicating back and forth between your headquarters, while in a different country, is often an important part of international business. Communicating with your coworkers back at the office is an important part of international business travel.

Traveling internationally for business can be a new adventure. It’s becoming increasingly common as more and more U.S. companies also have offices overseas in places like Ireland, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. In 2014, Forbes rated Denmark as the #1 country for business.

Regardless of where you are traveling, planning ahead helps to make the experience as positive as possible. Know the culture of the places you are visiting, and when possible, make ongoing communication a vital part of your trip. Try to maximize your time spent overseas by preparing in advance for productivity. The more organized you are, the more time you’ll likely have to enjoy some sightseeing and leisure. Always remain respectful, while keeping your goal in sight.

David Easterling has been leading software development companies for more than 15 years. In 2008 he founded Prosoft Nearshore, with offices in Louisville, KY, and Escazú, San José, Costa Rica. Prosoft Nearshore is ranked #16 in Kentucky Top Companies and #2675 on the 2014 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies. David holds a degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He is a Certified Scrum Master, an active member of the Scrum and Agile User Group, and a member of the National Vistage CEO Leadership Group.

 

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February 14

Business Travel Tips!

download (26)When you travel the world around you, it changes the world within you. That was one of my quotes a few years ago from my travel blog when I was blogging the World Tour. It holds true to this day, in my opinion.

I have traveled a lot these past 3 months, in particular, and am often asked how I do it. How do I maintain my energy, my focus, my connections, my health. So here are my best travel tips – try them, you’ll like them.

TIP #1 – MAINTAIN REGULAR SLEEP HABITS. This is normal for me, anyway, whether I am travelling or not. But when I am on the road, it is critical for me to get my sleep. I adjust to the time zone I am in and go with it. I ensure the room is dark, cool, quiet and normally, when at conferences, for example, I always room alone. I know that many people find great joy sharing a room when attending events. That doesn’t work for me because I get enough stimulation during the business days and meetings – I don’t need the additional stimulation of someone in my room wanting to de-brief for the next few hours. It’s my down time so that I can get mentally ready for a restful sleep. That also means limited electronics or TV.

TIP #2 – GET REGULAR EXERCISE. These days, that can mean just counting your steps in the airports – they are so HUGE! It takes a lot of time and a lot of steps to get around. I hired a personal trainer this year and, when I am at home, it makes a huge difference. When I am on the road, I stay accountable, get my exercise and post photos for my trainer so I show evidence of my commitment. At a minimum, I do some Yoga moves which helps with stretching after long plane rides. I bring my exercise DVD with me, too – me and Jillian Roberts – look out world!

TIP #3 – I MAKE GOOD FOOD CHOICES. There’s not really any reason to look at a menu when I travel. I know what I regularly eat for breakfast, lunch and supper – now, remember my 80/20 rule. When I am somewhere special (like in Africa – I WILL have the chocolate croissants… just sayin’!) – I will try different foods. But for normal travel – I stick with my regular food choices – and rarely will I have a drink when I am on the road. It ruins my sleep. I know it. So why do it?

TIP #4: I KEEP MY GRATITUDE JOURNAL. Next to my exercise clothes, my Gratitude Journal is the one thing that goes in the suitcase. It IS when I travel, that I realize and recognize what a blessed life I live and I want to keep my attitude of gratitude.

TIP #5: KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOR. Travel these days can be frustrating, challenging and difficult. There are many things beyond my control. It is so important to keep a sense of humor – and I do that by people watching. I love it! Most people have their face glued to their electronic devices – I just sit, with my latte, and watch. It’s great for keeping stress levels low. (good quality chocolate and a Starbucks latte makes me a happy traveler! – find your happy place, too!)

I have travelled a lot and will continue to do so. My travels tips are not rocket science – they are pretty basic and yet they work. Try them – you’ll like them too.

Pat Mussieux is fast becoming regarded as a highly valued Canadian mentor for women entrepreneurs taking her own business from zero to a multiple 6-figure home-based business in less than 4 years. Much of her success can be attributed to her expertise in marketing, mindset and money!

 

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February 11

ABCs of a Realistic African Diaspora Engagement

download (25)Almost every African country is trying to engage with its diaspora. However, when it comes to how to convince the African diaspora to work with their country of origin, the methods used are not working. One of the first things that comes to the mind of most Africans living in Africa is to ask the diaspora to help them, forgetting that no one is helping the diaspora for free. In contrast, the first thing that enters the mind of most diasporas is not how to help Africa, but whether Africa knows why they have left the continent and what they are doing abroad!

Do I need to underline that many African immigrants have left the Black Continent because they were chased away by some leaders and sorcerers who, today, are begging them to invest back home? Most Africans leaders are not trying to better know and understand their diaspora before asking them to come invest their money in Africa. Sometimes, I even wonder how many African Professionals in the Diaspora are richer than the African leaders who are begging them for money. Worst, some African leaders act like if their diaspora have forgotten the wounds they have suffered in Africa before finding a way to flee the continent of Kwame Nkrumah. Undoubtedly, a lot of basic first steps needs to be addressed in order to start aligning the mentality of Africa with that of its diaspora. Otherwise, the synergistic coalition needed for African Diaspora Engagement will continue lacking!

The migration of the diasporas from their home country to their new country of residence is a kind of “divorce or break up” with their roots. Some Africans have had some bad experiences with their own people that they do not even want to reverse their “divorce” with the continent of Nelson Mandela. Other immigrants have been highly afflicted by the people in their home country that they do not want to hear any request coming from them. No intelligible man dates a woman by starting to ask about anything that is supposed to be last. Moreover, no reasonable man can win back his ex-wife or ex-girlfriend, and vice versa, by starting the conversation with a list of requests or a list of things that the ex must do. Sadly, certain political leaders who orchestrated the migration of their own people cling to power and then, ask their diaspora that they have hunted to come and invest in their country. These types of diaspora engagement cannot work, particularly in the African context where people seem to pull each other toward the bottom of the misery pit. At the same time, many foreign countries are taking advantage of the divergences among the Africans!

The engagement of the diaspora in the development of their home country must follow certain basic rules of courtesy. I believe that Africa and its diaspora need to start “dating” each other in a format similar to that of a man trying to win back his ex-wife or ex-girlfriend, and vice versa. However, while some people that have broken up can easily find new loves, it is not easy for most diaspora to quickly forget their roots and embrace the culture of their new country. This implies that many opportunities still exist to start engaging the African Diasporas in a dialogue with their homeland which dearly needs them. For this dialog to succeed, it must not begin with begging the diaspora to come back to Africa or to invest in Africa. Similarly, the diaspora should not inaugurate this dialog by requesting that the African political leaders change overnight. The African Diasporas need to know that, though their new life abroad has changed the way they used to think, many of their brothers and sisters in Africa still act as if they have no brain or if they cannot get rid of the legacy of the colonial ignorance. Therefore, the African Diaspora must be tolerant with their own people who need to be willing to realign and renew their mentality so that synergistic coalitions can be fostered in a win-win framework for the advancement of our dear Africa rather than allowing the so-called super powers to continue poaching their rich lands and mines like a cake of their grandmother or like their heritage or like the field of their slaves!

When it comes to engaging the African diaspora in the development of Africa, ten questions need to be asked first:

  1. Who are the African Diaspora?
  2. Who is who among the African Diaspora?
  3. Where are they living?
  4. What are they doing?
  5. What problems are they facing?
  6. Why did they leave Africa?
  7. How can Africa help them to heal some of their wounds?
  8. What can we do to forgive each other and embrace a new journey of partnership?
  9. How can we partner rather than how can they help us?
  10. How can we initiate this partnership without bringing up money as the first issue?

And these questions must be answered without forgetting the millions of African-Americans, descendants of the slaves, whom some “stupid” or naive African Leaders think are not worthy to be called African Diaspora! It is after these questions are sincerely addressed that Africa and its Diaspora can start talking about who can do what for who? Without following these simple strategic steps, the African diaspora will just keep creating thousands of African Diaspora Associations, while the African Political Leaders will keep creating more Political Parties in Africa, yet, sinking Africa.

 

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February 3

Things to Know About Flight Delay Compensation

download (24)You arrive at the airport, your flight is delayed or even cancelled? Flight delay compensation is an important topic travellers should know about, especially when it comes to business travel. Whether it is due to bad weather such as snow, a security alert or a strike, there are many reasons for flight delays and cancellations. But whatever the reason, it means you have to stay involuntarily longer at the airport before you can travel to your destination or back home. Plus, you may be entitled to flight delay compensation or a refund. Here are some important rules helping you to make sure you are not left out of pocket and make the most of the involuntarily gained extra time.

1. Know your rights

From getting refunded for all your food and drink expenses to getting a hotel or some alternative transportation, you should know what you are entitled to. So, if your flight is cancelled or heavily delayed, you’re protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation (EU rule 261/2004 and repealing regulation (EEC) No 295/91). Unless ‘extraordinary circumstances’ apply, you can claim a financial flight delay compensation for cancelled or heavily delayed flights totalling:

€250 (£210) for inter-EU flights of 930 miles or less

€400 (£330) for flights between 930 and 1,860 miles

€600 (£500) for other journeys (long-haul flights)

It applies for EU flights, which includes any flights leaving from or arriving at an EU airport with an EU-based airline. Plus, your compensation may be reduced by 50% depending on flight distance and the ultimate arrival time. This means the reduced compensation applies to short haul flights within two hours, to medium haul flights within three hours and to long haul flights within four hours. But remember, flight delay compensation is only applicable if it is the airline’s fault (i.e. no act of God applies, such as natural catastrophes, incl. earth quakes, volcanoes or bad weather or political unrest). To claim flight delay compensation simply write to your airline stating the flight number, date, length of delay and reason for the claim. Sometimes airlines try offering you vouchers as flight delay compensation, but you don’t have to accept them and can ask for a cash refund instead. If your airline refuses to compensate you, contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for support and advice. Note, technical faults, unless they result from events which, by their nature or origin, are not part of the normal exercise of the airline, do not count as extraordinary circumstances.

Your right to reimbursement comes into play, if the delay is a minimum of five hours. You should get a reimbursement within seven days, for the cost of the flight ticket, the part of the trip not travelled and the parts already travelled, provided they are then useless. Where applicable, you may be even entitled to the earliest possible return flight to your departure destination or rerouting along with a refund.

During the travel disruption you should receive assistance from your airline, including food, drinks, two free telephone calls, faxes or emails, as well as accommodation and transport transfers to and from the hotel – where applicable. This is regardless of the reason for the delay/cancellation.

2. Networking

It’s always good to make friends, so why not use the downtime for extending your network. Try to see the positive of dealing with flight delays. Seen from a practical level, you may be able to share costs, e.g. for a taxi into town. Also being friendly towards the airport staff may prove helpful. Especially in these kinds of situations they encounter a lot of stressed and unfriendly customers, although the delay/cancellation is none of their personal fault. If you are friendly they are much more likely to help you, maybe even give you some extra advice.

3. Gate-crash the airport lounges

Those of you flying Business Class or being members of corporate airline loyalty or frequent flyer schemes will already be in the VIP lounge enjoying a nice drink and peanuts. It’s a far quieter and relaxed environment. This may be the best option when having to wait for a delayed flight. But if you are neither flying business class, nor a member of a loyalty scheme, be advised that in some cases these lounges are not exclusive and you may be able to access them for a fee of around £20. This could be much cheaper than getting your food and drink from an airport bar.

Furthermore, desk agents in these lounges are often authorised to make fast, last-minute reservations’ changes and there are usually far fewer people ahead of you in the queue. At least you can enjoy the Wi-Fi and free snacks (or booze!) while you have to wait. In the case of a flight cancellation or major delay, and you are at the airport immediately contact the airline you are travelling with. To change the ticket and get advice on the available options, it is best to go to your airline’s ticket desk, as soon as possible. Your business travel management company should continually provide pro-active telephone support throughout, as Flightline Travel does.

What are your top tips for dealing with flight delays and cancellations?

 

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February 2

Home Is Where the Heart Is, Book a Serviced Apartment and Come Home

download (21)That’s how the old adage goes isn’t it?

And well, for us, it’s never been truer than in today’s amazingly fast-paced, multi-cultural, media savvy world.

Businesses tend to focus heavily on productivity and the balance sheet but in order to have staff who are ready and able to work, it’s so easy to overlook the vital importance of a stable home life. In relocation and business travel particularly temporary accommodation is often relegated down the list precisely because it is ‘temporary’ but this is exactly the time when it’s most essential. Still very few companies focus on the emotional fallout that can occur before, during and after the move.

The first month of a relocation can make or break the move. And we should know… we deal with the aftermath of many a poorly planned and executed relocation! To the person (or people) arriving, everything’s new – the country, the job, probably the language, possibly the company – and even the most seasoned relocatee can find the first couple of weeks pretty stressful.

“International mobility reinforces the link between a happy couple and contributes to the dislocation of already dysfunctional couples before departure.” Jean-Luc Cerdin, Professor of HR Management, ESSEC Business School of Paris

And again, leaning on our experience, we’ve noticed that it’s not always the big issues that are the major cause of stress. There doesn’t have to be a cataclysmic event… sometimes it’s just the smallest things that can make a difference and that’s where serviced apartments can really come into their own. They provide the individual and more importantly the family unit (on average about 80% of expatriate workers move with their spouses.), the calm, sheltered haven from which they can begin to order and adjust to their new life. Simple things that we take for granted, like being able to whip up your favourite meal from back home, not having to worry about expensive hotel restaurant prices, or the astronomical cost of raiding the mini-bar! It’s having the space for everyone who’s staying together to nestle in and find their own place without being on top of one another. These are the little things that money just can’t buy and that hotels (due to the way they’re set up) quite often aren’t able to provide.

And actually, the very same rules apply to business travel although in the harsh maelstrom of defined business objectives, target driven performance and an expectation of constantly high energy levels, this too can often be forgotten. Business travel may appear glamorous on the surface but (take it from me – I know) after the first couple of trips it starts to get very much less appealing. It significantly disturbs your routine and seems to take up an inordinately disproportionate amount of time and money. Serviced apartments may not all offer the 24 hour service levels of a hotel but what they do offer in spades, is space, privacy and that all important home from home environment.

So for instance, there’s no need for you to have to be up and dressed just to make breakfast in the hotel dining room when you can get in your own supplies, chill out, and make (very probably) a far healthier brekkie in your apartment’s kitchen. You don’t have to sit on the edge of your bed because there’s nowhere else to perch when you can flop out on your apartment’s sofa. You don’t have to remember to meet the hotel laundry times either because you can put your washing on in your apartment whenever you need to. So many benefits, really… I know!

Working in the serviced apartment industry I’ve always been amazed that more people aren’t aware of what they can provide. I’m also a big fan of posh hotels for those rare occasions that I get to go off on treaty holidays, but as an extremely seasoned business traveller myself I find the serviced apartments product absolutely invaluable. So hey, why not try a serviced apartment yourself on your next business trip or relocation and join the revolution that’s sweeping the industry

 

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