What started as a nerve-wracking challenge turned into a huge success. I found myself baffled on where to begin but breaking it down into smaller sections helped me undertake my first in-person international meeting marathon — allowing me to gain immense amounts of experience and insights during these two weeks.
As an individual, I had put myself to the test by pushing weeks of preparation to plan and host these business meetings. It was challenging as well as time-consuming, and misunderstandings often occurred because of language and cultural barriers. I have found a few ways to overcome this challenge gracefully.
Have you found yourself in the same boat? If so, this article is just for you! Below I will share two different points I have learned during this event.
1. How to plan and prepare for the business visit of our international colleagues
You want to make sure that you are maintaining professionalism at all times. You can start off by dividing the journey into three parts.
Part 1: Ensure preparations are complete before arrival.
Most executives like everything under control. If you have to host foreign executives for a business trip, prepare and execute the following steps:
- Send a welcome email 3–5 days before their departure.
- Provide information about hotels, flights, airport, shuttle taxis, and their contact information.
- Include weather information and a taxi app.
Part 2: Ensure the schedule is clear and concise.
One thing you must do before arranging the business trip is to confirm the primary purpose of the visit with the executives. You can refer to the following steps when doing this.
- Confirm the trip’s primary purpose first. You can generally divide the purposes into categories. For instance, visiting customers, attending important meetings, and discussing specific topics face-to-face with particular teams.
- Contact the relevant departments, and provide the executive with a draft version of the calendar and related meetings.
- Send the meeting invitations and reserve the meeting rooms.
Part 3: Include tourist activities and local must-eat locations in the business trip for an integrated cultural experience.
If this business trip includes weekends and holidays, you can arrange some visits to popular local attractions and recommend some local must-eat foods and restaurants. You can also ask your local department heads if they would like to have lunch or dinner with the foreign executives and schedule these meals in advance.
2. How to ensure that your schedule is as productive as possible in a limited time
Business schedules are usually very tight, and arranging an efficient trip for foreign executives is your primary goal. You can consider these three things.
Part 1: Align the expectations and desired outcomes for the business meetings.
Before the foreign executives’ arrival, it would be best if you could ask them to provide their expectations or requests for each topic you arranged. It’s the first step for alignment. Then, the second step is to discuss the attendees with the related department leader. Also, you can confirm the agenda for the meeting with the local team leader.
Part 2: Prepare the foreign executives for the customer visits.
Before I prepared the foreign executives for the business visit to Taiwan, they informed me that the customer visit was one of the most significant purposes of this trip. Therefore, I discussed with our local sales team to prepare these customer visits for them. I would like to share some takeaways from these customer visits, among preparation and lesson learned.
- Initially, foreign executives weren’t fully aware of which customers they could visit while staying in Taiwan. I discussed this visiting request with the local sales team to define the targeted customers.
- After the customer list is specified, it is best to clarify both parties’ attendees. After that, we provided our attendees with their names and job title. Also, we asked our sales team to confirm attendees and reserve their meeting rooms.
- The rehearsal meeting with foreign executives and the local sales team is essential. We can rehearse the meeting material internally and brief the visiting executives on the business relationship between the customer and ourselves.
- Before attending the meeting, ensure all alterations to the material meet the customer attendees’ specialty. For instance, we may require technical information from this visit, so it is vital that the customer has research and design knowledge. If the customer has a procurement specialty only, it is best to discuss the market, prices, and other business topics at this visit but not technical issues.
Part 3: Provide the fastest transportation option to reduce travel time and increase productivity.
Honestly, I initially planned to take the high-speed rail from headquarters to the customer’s company in Taipei. We would need to take a taxi from the station to the customer’s company. We would potentially suffer risks of delaying the meeting time. Luckily, I discussed this plan with my experienced colleagues, who suggested we take a taxi to reduce the risk of delay. This decision proved that we had made the correct decision by utilizing a taxi for transportation. It saved time and energy, reduced risk, and even though it is more expensive than public transport, it gave us one less concern.
Often there are choices you must make where no one can tell you what you should make. When considering this, don’t just take my word for it when planning your colleagues’ or executives’ international travel; find the purpose and execute it in a way that. Only some things in this article will apply to your specific situation. Considering that, make sure you find the deeper purpose for the colleagues or executives’ visit, and center your plans to carry out that purpose.
I was nervously preparing a tight schedule for these executives knowing many things could go wrong and understanding this schedule may not have appropriately communicated the underlying purpose for a visit. Still, all the efforts paid off in the end.
My advice to you, identify potential roadblocks and minimize them, and figure in a bit of flexibility in case changes are required. That should help; all will go well!