Business Travel Etiquette
Here are five gentle reminders for minding manners on the ground and in the sky.
By Wendy Helfenbaum
If corporate travel managers (CTMs) want road warriors to dress and act the part, says corporate etiquette consultant Jay Remer in St. Andrews, N.B., it’s up to them to clearly outline company expectations well before take-off. etiquetteguy.com
1. Dress for Success
Tell them to lose the yoga pants and ditch the baseball caps because company dress code extends beyond the boardroom. “If (your people) are going to walk around looking unkempt, it’s disrespectful to the company and those around them. Somebody’s always watching, and if it’s a potential client, you may be sorry,” says Remer.
2. Overseas Praxis
Customs and protocol vary worldwide, so brief your business travellers: What’s an appropriate tip? How do you exchange business cards or gifts? Can you show up for meetings early? “In Japan, you don’t shake hands, you bow. In the Middle East, you kiss,” says Remer. “Knowledge will give your representatives confidence when travelling abroad.”
3. Golf, Course Language
We all know serious business happens while having fun on the green. Tell your ambassadors to keep their eye on the real ball—the deal (not the golf ball). If an employee swears, slams down clubs or cheats, people will wonder if your company acts the same way, cautions Remer.
4. Ancillary Aggravation
An AirPlus International survey released in August showed that fewer than half of corporate travel managers don’t always track airline ancillary fees. The onus is on CTMs to set the policy on extra luggage fees, changes in reservations— and to review it with their employees. Remer likens CTMs to coaches: “Your people need to know that someone in the company is in charge and keeping track of these things.” airpluscommunity.com
5. Smiles are Free
Is it really the ticket agent’s fault that the airplane is overbooked? Remer is of the opinion that civility and respect in the corporate world is at an all-time low. “Your representatives need to be reminded that they’re dealing with human beings; their every move has an impact. In the minds of hospitality and service providers, if your employee misbehaves, this is how everyone from your company must behave.”
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