Business Trip Planning in Six Simple Steps
By Team Canada Inc | March 31, 2004
Want to see the world? Try exporting your goods and services. It is the rare exporter who has not invested considerable time and money exploring new markets. And much of this exploration is conducted in person. Visiting an export market is the single most effective method for assessing its potential – if the visit is properly planned. Following these steps will help create a productive and cost-effective business trip, and provide you with the information you require to take your export venture to the next level.
There will always be time to visit Big Ben or Stonehenge on a vacation. If you are going to the England to analyse the demand for your customer relationship management software, all of your destinations and your meetings should be scheduled around this task. If your objective is to secure some contracts, your trip to England will likely consist of meeting with and presenting to prospective clients you have already contacted. Perhaps you want to evaluate the competition and examine whether your product is suitable for local consumers? There is no better means to achieve these objectives than traveling to the target market.
2. Determine whether financial assistance is available
Business travel can be costly, particularly for small-and medium-sized firms with tight budgets.
3. Seek expertise before you leave
There are many sources of information and advice available to exporters. The International Trade Centres (ITCs, at www.itc-cci.gc.ca) are a great place to start. Located in every province, the ITCs offer small-and medium-size enterprises a full range of trade development services and assistance. Local Chambers of Commerce, boards of trade or sector-specific business associations can often direct you to a knowledgeable and experienced individual who can shed valuable insight on the market you are exploring.
4. Prepare for your travel
Before you book your travel (mode and carrier) and your accommodation, make sure that you check the Travel Information and Advisory Reports available from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to ensure that travel conditions to your target market are safe. This is an excellent first step before you plan your itinerary. The wise traveler also confirms any meetings and reservations, learns about the local culture and customs, currency (and exchange rate) and contacts the Canadian representatives at the Embassy or Consulate in the target country to inform them of the business trip and its objectives.
5. Create your list of tasks for the trip
Organization is the key to productive and cost-effective business travel. Your task list is a clear, concise summary of all that you hope to accomplish in the target market. This may include meeting prospective customers, identifying potential partners, such as agents or distributors, obtaining information on competitors, regulations, legal issues and marketing and promotion strategies suitable for the local audiences.
6. Follow-up when you get home
While it is more enjoyable to put your feet up and celebrate your export successes, it is more valuable to take the next steps to solidify the business relationships that you have nurtured on your trip. Send “thank you” letters to the individuals you met. Provide the additional information people requested and ask the questions you have that arose as a result of your meetings. In other words, keep the ball rolling as your export business grows and you prepare for your next trip abroad.
This information was drawn from the Team Canada Inc guide, Planning a Business Trip Abroad, available online at http://exportsource.ca/trip. Learn more about planning your export ventures by calling the Export Information Service at 1 888 811-1119 or log on to http://exportsource.ca.