Business Etiquette for Global Travel

Understanding the appropriate etiquette for global corporate travel is essential to conducting a successful business trip

What is Business Etiquette?

It’s essential to understand the customs of local business etiquette to conduct yourself professionally when travelling for business. The aim of good business etiquette is to highlight an integrated company image, whilst showing mutual respect to your colleagues or clients. Your display of business etiquette can make or break future business relationships.

Fundamentals of Business Etiquette

1. Dress appropriately

When travelling for business it can be a challenge to pack the appropriate clothing as the dress code can vary from place to place. To prevent confusion, do your research on the destination’s culture and dress code guidelines before travelling. It is best to avoid assumptions as it could lead to an unintentional misunderstanding. Dressing appropriately is a sign of respect and reflects positively on your professional character. In some cultures, it will be necessary for your shoulders and knees to be covered as a sign of respect, whilst other cultures will determine standard business or casual wear in muted tones as fully acceptable.

2. Be punctual

Being punctual whilst on a business trip is crucial as many cultures consider lateness highly offensive. When you arrive on time it’s a sign of respect to yourself, your clients, and other’s daily schedules. Prior to the trip it’s important to clarify the specific meeting times to remove any possibility for miscommunication. Researching the nearby public transport and taxi options is essential to arriving on time. As many cultures perceive lateness differently, it’s best to arrive on time to maintain an organised and professional reputation. If circumstances outside of your control unfold, it’s important to let your co-workers or clients know that you may arrive later than planned.

3. Adapt to local customs

In preparation for your business trip, it’s crucial to conduct research on the destination’s customs and culture. An awareness of the destination’s regular greetings and surrounding observations will be appreciated by others. Learning a few basic phrases of the local language could help to improve your experience whilst abroad. Communicating to your client in their native language provides a greater connection and goes a long way in intercultural business etiquette. If clients attending the meeting will be speaking different languages, it’s best to hire an interpreter to resolve the issue. 

4. Make strong impressions

When meeting your clients potentially for the first time in person, it’s important to make a strong impression. When you arrive in your destination, ensure to pay attention to the way others communicate and convey nonverbal information. Before your business trip begins, take the time to learn your client’s names, the correct pronunciations, and their job titles. Some countries regard addressing others by their forename first as inappropriate. It’s best to err on the side of caution and seek out the correct approach before needing to address your clients. Having strong communication skills can foster a positive and long-lasting professional relationship with your clients.

5. Gift giving

In some regions (specifically in Asian cultures) it’s common practice for companies to present other professionals with a gift at their first meeting. In Japan and China, gifts should be given and received with two hands and never opened in front of the gift giver. Business gifts are appreciated in the United Arab Emirates, however in Europe and Australia, gifts are not essential for business meetings. It’s important to research in advance if gift giving is expected and whether it complies with company policy. If appropriate, bringing a gift can help to begin a professional relationship on a positive note, whilst making a good impression. Prior to your business trip, research a suitable item that would meet the expectations of the client without being inappropriate.  


Though business etiquette varies around the world, being polite and showing good manners with an awareness of local customs will go a long way. It’s crucial to take the time to research and understand different cultures and their greeting practices to avoid disrespect prior to travelling. If you need advice or guidance on business etiquette, our team of experts are here to help 24/7.

If you would like to have your Business Travel Simplified, then speak with a member of our team on (028) 9038 9007 or email