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BUSINESS ETIQUETTE


CULTURECLUB C


Can ‘cultural intelligence’ benefit both your business and travel programme?


WORDS MAT THEW PARSONS


ROSSING BORDERS: it’s what business travel is all about really, and buyers are instrumental in making the process go smoothly. But how prepared are buyers, and their travelling employees,


for crossing cultural boundaries? Cultural intelligence, or cultural IQ, was under the spotlight at the recent ITM Conference, where buyers were encouraged to become more aware of other nations’ customs and etiquette when doing business. At the same time, technology platforms are also playing a key role in raising awareness and highlighting cultural differences.


GETTING A RESPONSE Speaking at ITM’s annual gathering in Brighton earlier this year, Jo Lloyd, partner at Nina & Pinta, set the scene by asking: “How do I interact with my teams, my stakeholders, my travellers in different parts of the world. If I’m rolling out projects, how can I get someone to respond to me in India the same as I would from Brazil?” It’s a valid question for many global travel managers who find themselves launching online booking tools and other systems in other countries, as part of a drive for efficiencies and data capture, or simply are involved in an expanding organisation.


68 JULY/AUGUST 2019


What should they be aware of when dealing with counterparts, colleagues or suppliers in different countries?


A buyer on the panel advised: “You need


to go about this the same way you would a budget, a project strategy.” To start with, research how the country views the work/life balance. “Some cultures want to have a life, and enjoy their time and finish work at 5pm. Amazing!” they joked. “But that’s not how we work in the UK,


and especially in the industry we work in, so understanding what is acceptable from a work/life balance in the country that you’re working with is also a way to get things done. Knowing that you’re not going to get a response after 4.30pm is completely acceptable,” the attendees heard. “Sending someone in Germany an email asking them to do something on Friday is unacceptable. You ask someone to do something on a Monday, not on a Friday.” Also speaking on the panel was Richard


Tams, of Tailwind Advisory, which offers cultural intelligence coaching for executives who are relocating, or for staff managing global teams. Tams launched his consultancy last year after 27 years at British Airways, and shared some of his experiences gained from various sales and marketing roles across Europe, North America and Asia.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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