By Max Taylor, Head of Business Marketing, T-Mobile UK
Research from the ONS found that overseas business trips by UK residents fell by 22% last year as companies scaled back costs to try and overcome the recession. Despite ongoing efforts to minimise corporate trips, the simple fact remains that foreign travel is a staple part of the workings of many small businesses. Its role in establishing relations with international partners, gauging new markets for entry and meeting with remote workers based outside of the UK cannot be easily replaced. With this in mind, we’ve compiled some top tips on the best value deals and services available to help keep costs low while travelling and doing business abroad.
1. Banking and finances: For accessing finances abroad, it is worth looking into the major banks’ international bank account offerings. For instance, HSBC’s international accounts are managed centrally from London with no time zone differences or language barriers and can even be operated in a range of foreign currencies. Once on location, ensure exchange rates don’t catch you out when you are trying to agree deals through sites such as: www.xe.com, which provide an exchange rate calculator, up-to-the-minute market rates and tips on currency trading.
2. Accommodation: Most major hotel chains provide a loyalty programme or reward scheme for frequent visitors. By enrolling in a scheme, points may be accrued for stays at all the hotels in a chain, leading to free stays, gifts, or extras at the hotel such as upgrades or meals. For a list of hotels offering these schemes to businesses, check out the Cheap Accommodation website.
3. Mobile broadband: Using the internet on your mobile while abroad is an essential way to access all of online resources. To avoid concerns over costs, T-Mobile has introduced Euro Broadband Boosters, which offer complete transparency to business travellers, through various fixed and transparent price options from as little as £1. The user’s time or allowance is easily visible through a status webpage while using the service.
4. Travel: Travel costs are evidently a major consideration for any business trip. However, the numerous no frills airlines deals can really pay dividends, with a flight to Europe costing as little as £29 from the UK. Book with a site such as www.flightcentre.co.uk and you could some extras thrown in too.
5. Transport: A lot of hire car companies offer rental loyalty schemes for businesses making regular use of their services. Budget Business Connections, for example, offers small businesses greater control of car hire arrangements and at least a 5% discount every time you rent a car in Europe, USA, Middle East and Africa.
6. Language and culture: Even getting to grips with the basics of a foreign language can help sweeten up contacts and cinch deals. To avoid expensive tuition fees and study at your own pace, take an inexpensive linguaphone package (4 CDs for £19.95). Sites such as Kwinessential also provide free hints and tips regarding cultural differences when conducting business. For example, the correct way to give and receive business cards: in China and Japan, you're expected to use both hands. However, in parts of the Middle East, you must never use your left hand.
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