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Travel experts have revealed essential tips for international business travel etiquette to help people avoid making any cultural faux pas when meeting for work.  

Some of the advice offered by several of the international account managers at travel management company, TravelPerk, includes: 

  1. Brazil – you should always stick around for the small talk after a meeting 

In Brazil, body language is equally as important as verbal communication. Additionally, Brazilians find it important to connect outside of the workplace. As a further emphasis on getting to know each other, meetings will often run longer than planned for to allow for additional small talk, which is important to stick around for.  

  • France – avoid exaggeration and unnecessary hyperbole when meeting colleagues 

In France, you should expect every business meeting to be paired with either a lunch or dinner, depending on the time of day. While establishing a personal connection is important, the French dislike exaggeration so avoid hyperbole if at all possible. They’ll appreciate if you make an attempt at speaking a few words, or even a phrase, in French, even if you aren’t fluent. Finally, dressing somewhat fashionably goes a long way with the French who put an emphasis on fashion.  

  • Japan – when attending a meeting, make sure you’re prepared with a gift 

In Japan, a bow is considered to be the most polite greeting, even more so than a handshake. Your best bet is to wait and see what your host does and follow suit. Saying “no” in Japan can be construed as impolite. Instead, find other ways to express your opinion. Also in Japan, the most senior team members will do the majority of the talking while junior employees remain quiet out of respect. Finally, it is customary to present a small, wrapped gift upon your arrival as token of your appreciation.  

  • Italy – first impressions matter more than you think  

If you’re traveling to Italy for work, it might come as no surprise that it’s important to dress well. Consider a well-tailored suit or sleek dress. First impressions tend to stick in Italy, so remember to put your best foot forward. This includes sticking to formal greetings and not using anyone’s first name until they’ve used yours first. Also, you can expect a high standard of food and drink when you’re meeting in Italy.  

  • South Africa – don’t arrive late  

Meetings in South Africa tend to be much less formal than in many other places, however punctuality is very important. Make sure you save time for more informal conversation before and after the meeting, and don’t forget to come with either a business card or a gift. 

In addition to these country specific tips, TravelPerk also offers some general courtesies to keep in mind while dining out with clients or colleagues. These include: 

  • Be polite to the wait staff 

While this may seem obvious, it can’t be stressed enough to treat the wait staff with respect. Say “please” and “thank you” and try not to complain; otherwise, you could offend your host or come across as rude, which you don’t want.  

  • Don’t take calls during the meal 

Another way to avoid looking rude in front of clients and colleagues is to not take calls or texts at the table. In fact, it is best to leave your phone in your pocket on silent to avoid any interruptions during the meal. It’s important to demonstrate that your attention is with the client and not elsewhere.  

While these tips are important to remember while traveling internationally for business or dining out with clients, they only make up a fraction of the courtesies business travelers should know. Find here the complete lists of international business travel and business dining etiquettes.  

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