Skift Take

As the global business landscape changes, so does the nature of corporate travel – and the needs of a global managed travel program evolve along with it. Organizations today require consistent service and data visibility worldwide, along with support that understands local and cultural sensitivities, to keep their travelers safe, productive, and happy on the road.

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China. India. Mexico. South Africa. It may sound like the lineup for the next season of an Anthony Bourdain series, but it’s actually my business travel itinerary for the next six weeks.
I like to think of myself as a professional go-getter – wherever the business is, that’s where I go. I’ve been to more countries this year than many will see in their lifetime, my passport reads like a World Cup bracket, and my Global Entry membership has paid for itself tenfold.

Those business trips take me across international borders more and more each year. I’m now traveling more globally than domestically, and the locations just keep getting more exotic. Have you ever heard of Maputo? It’s recently become one of the best performing non-petroleum economies in sub-Saharan Africa, and I’ll be there next month.

The global business landscape is changing. Like many others I know, my company operates more globally than ever before, taking me and my colleagues to places we may have never imagined. It’s all pretty exciting, but it can also make our lives on the road more difficult. After all, doing business in Asia is very different than doing business in LA.

There are always pitfalls when traveling abroad. My first trip to India, for instance, I extended my left hand across the table for a shake. Or there was the time I attempted to pass on a round of vodka from a client in Russia. Those are things you catch onto quickly.
Others, however, are trickier.

There are a whole slew of unique complications that come along with being a global road warrior. And when I’m worrying about where I’m allowed to place my chopsticks at dinner, or what sort of greeting to offer my host without seeming culturally insensitive, the last thing I need to worry about is the logistics of my international itinerary.

Safety is a definite concern, especially for my family, as I travel to more remote locations. Last year, I had just landed in North Africa when a volatile political situation began to ignite. Luckily, my company’s corporate travel people had local partners on the ground that got in contact with me before I even left the airport. Back in the US, our local New York office stopped my colleague who was about to get on a plane to the same location to come meet me.

And there are a lot of things that are less serious than safety, but still potentially quite troublesome.

My colleague in Indonesia and I are 11 hours apart, but as soon as we found out our scheduled meeting in Brussels was cancelled last week, we both needed to talk to someone right away. Fortunately, we were both able to reach out to our favorite travel agents who know us and our local market, when it was most convenient for us, with a simple phone call. 24/7 doesn’t have a time zone, after all.

It’s things like this that make my international excursions less stressful. Rather than building up their own offices all over the world, corporate travel organizations like Ultramar partner with a network of best local in-country providers who really know their market inside and out. They’re all great – I get the same service no matter who in the world I have to call – and they all always have the same information. They know where I am, where I’ve been, and that I always prefer the window seat. That last one’s especially important.

To know that I’ll be taken care of no matter where I have to travel or where my company expands – from Belgium to Beirut and beyond – is an incredible weight off my shoulders. I’ll have the local perspective I need with the same consistency I know I deserve.

And with all the miles I’ve flown this year, I definitely deserve it.

This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor, Ultramar.


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Tags: business travel, corporate travel

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