Trade Missions, are an international trip by Government offices, trade organisations (such as Chambers of Commerce) and businesses, organised for the purpose of exploring international business opportunities. They are an important component of a country's global market action plan, to position the country’’s business for export success in foreign markets. They bring opportunities for opening doors, providing on-the-ground support, new business-to business contacts, and information and tools for all exporters, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.
If you're looking at going further afield with your business opportunities and organising travel for a trade mission, then you may not know where to start with the process.
Whether you are a trade organisation planning to lead a mission or a an individual or company wanting to join a mission and explore new markets, here we provide 10 tips for planning a flawless trade mission...
#1 Check the UKTI / DIT Market report for the country you are visiting.
The Department for International Trade (formerly known as UKTI) are responsible for promoting British trade across the world and ensuring the UK takes advantage of the huge opportunities open to us.
Their website provides vital information on how to do business within the target country's market, and more importantly whether or not certain parts of the market are safe to visit.
#2 Check the FCO website for entry requirements and travel advice
It can be difficult to know the requirements for unfamiliar countries. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office have a wide range of travel advice and information which can tell you if you need additional validity on your passport, or safety and security advice. A good Travel Management Company will provide sufficient duty of care and/or traveller tracking solutions to support travellers in any circumstance when they need it most, giving you peace of mind.
#3 Do I need a VISA?
VISA requirements can be tricky, if you use a Travel Management Company to organise the travel for your trade mission they will give you advance notice of any entry or visa requirements needed for your forthcoming trip, saving you time with your documentation or direct contact with embassies.
#4 Are any vaccinations or other preventive measures required?
When travelling to at risk counties, it is recommend that each individual traveller ensures they are fully aware of the additional health risks of travelling to their destination, as well as the vaccination requirements. This is to protect against illness/disease situations across the world such as the recent Zika virus outbreak. You can check if you require a vaccination for your destination by checking the MASTA Travel Health Checker website.
#5 Know your travel plans
If you are travelling on an organised mission then the DIT or trade group often co-ordinates the travel plans with a TMC to ensure the smooth running of the mission and frees them up to concentrate on ensuring you get the best out of market visit itself. Prepare yourself before travel by researching the airport you will be departing from or connecting through. This way it enables you to manage your time more effectively, and gives you a stress free journey. Coordinate a group meeting point if travelling from the same airport. Why not suggest additional extras such as lounge access/car parking/fast track security and priority boarding, your travel management company can organise this for you, making the trip from carpark to aircraft as smooth as possible.
#6 Do the maths...
Work out how many delegates will be attending. Are you able to qualify for discounted group rates for hotels or flights? TMC’s are experts at negotiating rates with preferred suppliers and have extensive buying power to secure the best options and rates for flights, hotels, meeting rooms, delegate dinners and networking venues.
#7 What’s included when you’re at the destination?
You need to make sure that you budget correctly as not all hotels will include breakfast or meals within the rates booked. When at exhibitions, the target audience will experience much higher prices on food, drinks and hotels. Be prepared and set a clear indication as to what is included with your rate, to alleviate any sudden costly surprises. Missions should include opportunity for business networking and B2B introductions. Sometimes a specialised facilitator will be employed to assist with this in advance and on the ground.
#8 Do you have enough baggage?
Travelling to exhibitions/conferences can often mean taking promotional material with you along with your personal items. Airlines generally offer 1 bag within the baggage allowance which may not be enough. It is always best to pre-book extra baggage that you may needs as you may have to pay a higher rate directly at the airport rather than online before you travel. To help co-ordinate the transport of larger exhibition materials you may need to use a logistics or freight company.
#9 Research the delegate list
Try and see who the other delegates are that will be taking part in the trade mission. You will receive a delegate list from the organising body and often they will arrange a pre-mission briefing enabling you to get to know and meet those on the mission with you in advance. This will help you to prepare and research the delegates in advance, giving you the edge when networking.
#10 Check for national/religious holidays
Precise planning and attention to detail are crucial when arranging group travel and trade missions. Some countries have days of religious observations that may affect working days which would be considered a normal working day for UK travellers. If you know in advance before travelling it will help with any embarrassing transport issues upon arrival.
Whether or not you use a Travel Management Company to assist with your trade mission travel plans, hopefully the tips above will help you along the way. If you have any tips on planning a flawless trade mission, please comment in the box below we would love to hear from you.