Mastering Business Travel Etiquette: the 3 R’s and 7 Tips

Nov 20, 2023
Business Travel
employee travelling for work

Business is all about interaction and if you're travelling for business, getting the etiquette right can be the difference between achieving your goals — and wasting time and money!

Like any other form of social interaction, it can sometimes seem like a minefield, particularly if you’re just starting out or looking to expand into the global economy

If you’re preparing to take your business to a new level in a new area or even country…don’t panic! Just follow these simple business travel etiquetterules and you’ll soon find yourself with some lucrative new business relationships.

So, what is Business Etiquette?

Within any social group, there are certain expectations about how the members of that group should behave if they are to be accepted by the group

Business is no different. So, business etiquette simply refers to the generally recognised requirements and expectations amongst business professionals. These can vary slightly across different country cultures. But you’ll be relieved to hear that the basic principles remain the same.

Whether you’re preparing for an important job interview or about to embark on your first business trip, these essential business etiquette rules will help you make the right impression.

7 Tips on Business Etiquette

Business etiquette rules are founded on good manners and treating people with respect. Apart from that, here are some basic examples of corporate etiquette that you should try to follow:

  • Be on time – whether it’s a job interview or a business meeting, it’s important to arrive on time. Being punctual shows people that you value them and their time. If you really are unavoidably delayed, let them know and apologise.

  • Greet with a handshake – it is the professional standard around the world and sets the tone for any encounter, so always remember to offer your hand.

  • Follow the dress code – always dress professionally unless you know for certain that the environment calls for casual wear.

  • Call people by name – it shows that you’re interested in them. Don’t be afraid to ask for a reminder of their name if you’ve forgotten it.

  • Knock before entering someone’s office – don’t assume that it’s OK to interrupt someone’s work. Knock, say ‘hello’ and ask politely if they have time to talk to you.

  • RSVP for events and meetings – always let people know in good time whether or not you can attend and don’t confirm your attendance and then just not show up.

  • Double-check before you hit send – unlike a WhatsApp or iMessage, an email cannot be taken back once it’s sent, so check what you’ve written carefully before hitting that button. Make sure the tone is appropriate and there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Even when writing informally to someone you know well, you should make sure the tone is professional and polite.Now we’re familiar with the basics. Here’s how you can nail your business etiquette when travelling for business and meeting clients.  

Why is Business Etiquette important when travelling to visit customers?

When travelling to visit your customers, both you and your company have already invested heavily in building that relationship. The last thing you want is to throw away that investment because of a lack of business trip etiquette

All the basic business etiquette rules we talked about above also apply when you’re travelling for business, with one of the most important being punctuality

Travelling can be time-consuming and full of unexpected delays, so make sure you plan your trip with this in mind and allow yourself plenty of time to get to your meeting at the arranged time.

On top of that, here are a few extra travel etiquette tips to make sure your business trips produce the positive outcome you’re hoping for:

  • Research local customs – make sure you know the local customs and expectations for the place you’re going. Even if your negotiations are in English, learning a greeting in the local language and being aware of do’s and don’ts shows that you are aware that you are a guest and that you respect their culture. Pay particular attention to local customs relating to eating and drinking, as these can be very different from one country to another.

  • Avoid controversial topics – religion and politics are best avoided as a general rule, but be careful, too, not to weigh in on any sensitive local issues or bring up any topics that it’s not customary to talk about in professional settings.

  • Know your corporate travel policy – make sure you read and understand your company’s policies on business travel and communicate with any travel companions. Pay particular attention to who arranges what and don’t just assume that someone else has organised things. Know your schedule and make sure that the people expecting you know it, too.

What are the 3 R’s of Business Etiquette?

Business etiquette is no different when you’re travelling. Business trips can be stressful and it’s easy to forget about people when we’re focused on what we want to achieve. Yet, people and relationships are at the heart of business travel, so here are the 3 R’s of business etiquette to help us remember the people we’re travelling to meet.

  • Recognition: we all want to be seen and appreciated, both personally and professionally. Giving people your time and attention, acknowledging the time they take to meet you and being interested in them will enable you to build fruitful professional relationships.

  • Respect: Aretha Franklin sang it and we all expect it, but we have to begin by giving it. We show respect by being punctual and polite, recognising that everyone’s work, time and culture is important, doing our research and listening to one another.

  • Response: communication is two-way. The surefire way to damage a relationship is by ignoring someone or leaving them out of the loop. Always respond politely to requests and with respect, even if the answer has to be ‘no’. If possible, try to anticipate the information that others will need when you’re travelling and inform them in advance – before they even need to ask.

So, there you have the basic principles of business etiquette for home and travel. If followed, it will not only enable you to navigate the choppy seasof professional life and business travel successfully, but it’ll hopefully help create some calmer watersin which we can all thrive.

Find out how FREENOW for Business can make business travel easier for you here