Monthly Archives: May 2020

5 Tips to Help You Prepare for International Business Travel

Travel overseas for business can be a fun adventure, but it also needs to be taken seriously. Before traveling to another country, whether for work or pleasure, it’s important to learn the customs and procedures of your destination, while also preparing yourself for your trip.

As a business traveler, you’re not only representing your country of origin to all of those you meet, but you are also a representative of your company. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the country you are planning on visiting as a way to show respect.

Besides requiring the correct documents like a visa and passport, there are other obligations you will likely need to complete before making your way overseas. Many of these requirements are specific to a particular destination based on the laws and regulations for the countries you are visiting. Make sure you do your homework well in advance so you know each of these requirements.

5 Tips for Overseas Business Travel

International travel for business can be a very exciting opportunity. You not only get to see new and interesting parts of the world, but you even get paid while doing it. In order to have the best experience possible, there are things you can do in advance to prepare. Here are five tips to help execute the perfect international business trip.

  1. Create an Organized Itinerary: Make sure that your days are packed with opportunities to help your company. Scheduling time for appointments, meetings, and personal time is very important to executing a beneficial international business trip. An itinerary should be a good guide for your trip’s goals and achievements. Because you do not want to waste any time on this trip, it’s better to plan in advance to take full advantage of the opportunity.
  2. Learn about the Culture and Customs: Before landing in said country, it’s important to understand the environment, culture and practices of this region. Knowing up-to-date news and information about your international travel destinations will help you avoid inappropriate comments or disrespectful behavior. Not only is it important to understand the culture, but it is also beneficial to know protocols, customs and etiquette as well. This includes things like: common greetings, religious practices, business manners, dietary practices, and acceptable humor.
  3. Learn the Native Tongue: While not every business trip requires learning a whole new language, it’s always advisable to seek out some basic vocabulary for the region you are visiting. The use of a translator might be beneficial as well. Communication is a huge part of business and breaking down those barriers will only help you with your business endeavors.
  4. Protect Yourself: Traveling internationally can be exciting, but also very stressful and sometimes dangerous. A new environment can mean new hazards and threats. Don’t avoid protecting yourself to save money. Sometimes travel insurance is a valuable way to reduce the risk of health crises and other types of risks.
  5. Stay Connected: Plan to use your communication devices while staying overseas. Make sure that your plan is available in other countries, or rent a cellphone from the airport. Communicating back and forth between your headquarters, while in a different country, is often an important part of international business. Communicating with your coworkers back at the office is an important part of international business travel.

Traveling internationally for business can be a new adventure. It’s becoming increasingly common as more and more U.S. companies also have offices overseas in places like Ireland, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. In 2014, Forbes rated Denmark as the #1 country for business.

Regardless of where you are traveling, planning ahead helps to make the experience as positive as possible. Know the culture of the places you are visiting, and when possible, make ongoing communication a vital part of your trip. Try to maximize your time spent overseas by preparing in advance for productivity. The more organized you are, the more time you’ll likely have to enjoy some sightseeing and leisure. Always remain respectful, while keeping your goal in sight.

3 Rules to Simplify Your Record Keeping For Business Travel

Summer is here and for many of us that means summer business trips. I love traveling for business. It usually means I’m on my way to speak at a seminar in a great location. But, my least favorite part about business trips is keeping track of all of my receipts.

I use to come home from a business trip and find my receipts in various places over the next several days (or weeks!). Some I would find in my wallet, others in my briefcase, more in my coat pocket, some in my car and with all of these, I was still missing receipts!

That was until I came up with my system for easy business travel record keeping. This system is so simple to use and it maximizes my business travel deductions.

Here’s how my system for easy business travel record keeping works:

*Rule #1*

Use the Convenience and Leverage of Email

When my airfare is booked, the airline sends me an email automatically that has all the information I need for my receipt. I forward that email to my bookkeeper immediately upon receipt. That takes care of the airfare receipt.

When I check out from my hotel, I request to have a copy of my bill emailed to me. I forward that email to my bookkeeper immediately upon receipt. That takes care of my hotel receipt.

With my airfare and hotel receipt, I have the receipts for the majority of my actual expenses. But most of the receipts from my travel come from the other expenses, like meals, cab fare, cash tips. Here is how I tackle those receipts.

*Rule #2*

Pack 2 Envelopes

Part of my packing for a business trip includes packing 2 envelopes in my carry on bag. The first envelope I label with my destination, travel dates and “Meals.” The other envelope I label with my destination, travel dates and “Other.” Any time I get a receipt from a meal, it goes in the “Meal” envelope. Any time I get any other receipt, I put it in the “Other” envelope. After my trip, I give the envelopes to my bookkeeper to record my travel expenses.

It’s such a simple system, but it works!

You may be wondering why I separate my meal receipts. There are 2 reasons I do this.

First, with my meal expenses separated, it makes it easier for my bookkeeper to code the expenses properly. My meal expenses are only 50% deductible, but the rest of my business travel is 100% deductible. Separating the two helps ensure that the expenses get coded to separate accounts so only my meals are subject to the 50% limit.

The second reason is so I can maximize my deductions. This is explained in Rule #3.

*Rule #3*

Use Per Diem

To maximize my business travel deductions, I separate my meal receipts AND I use a personal credit card or my personal cash to pay for all of meals while traveling. I do this because it is the easiest way to make sure I maximize my business travel deductions.

Here’s how I maximize my deduction:

When traveling on business, meal receipts are not required in order to deduct a meal expense. The IRS issues per diem rates for meals and these rates can be used for a meal deduction instead of the actual expense.

This means I can use either my actual meal expenses or I can use the per diem rates. Of course, I always pick the one that gives me the biggest deduction!

I have trained my bookkeeper to compare the total of my actual meal receipts to the per diem allowed. My bookkeeper then determines which provides the greater deduction and records that in my bookkeeping.

For example, if my meal receipts total to $125 and the per diem totals to $200, then I can legitimately deduct $200 for meals. This is one of my favorite strategies because I have increased my business deductions without spending any additional cash!

Here’s how I simplify the record keeping:

I mentioned that I use a personal credit card or personal cash for my meal expenses while traveling. I do this to make sure my business claims the larger of my actual expenses or the per diem allowed.

Once the greater of my actual meal expenses and per diem has been determined, my bookkeeper then completes an expense report that claims the greater amount. My business then reimburses me based on the expense report.

Worst case is I get reimbursed the exact amount I spent, but often times, I’m able to get reimbursed more than what I actually spent because the per diem rates are greater. This means my business gets a bigger deduction and my entire reimbursement (even if I am reimbursed more than what I actually spent) is tax free to me!

This is my favorite kind of system – it’s simple and it maximizes my deductions!

Reduce Your Business Travel Cost to Zero With Video Conferencing Solutions

Business travel cost is a nightmare for several organizations. The sales representatives are required to travel across the globe for meetings that ultimately result in more business for the organization, but regulating that cost is a serious concern for the admins and finance departments. It is primarily because the expenditure is a necessity. But what if you could just minimize that cost to nothing? What if your representatives could meet anyone around the world anytime without incurring any cost?

Technology has come a long way in the past few years and one of its fruitful offerings is Video Conferencing Solutions.

What is Video Conferencing?

Just like you carry out a conversation through your mobile devices across continents without paying a hefty amount, video conferencing is the technology that allows you to have a face to face conversation instead. Like any other technology, it has come a long way ever since the origin of its capabilities in the 1970s. Earlier, no standard protocols existed on which video conferencing could rely upon. It was an extremely expensive affair. However, with cloud technology coming in, we have extremely affordable networks. Interoperability of video teleconferencing systems is virtually guaranteed now that standards and protocols have been clearly established. This is the reason why many firms are now investing in video conferencing devices and replacing the way conferences and meetings were held traditionally. It allows the company officials to meet their clients anytime, without actually traveling to their location. In addition, they can also collaborate among themselves even when they are not present in the organization.

Which video conferencing solutions are right for your business?

Yes, it is extremely convenient and allows any organization to save a major expenditure on travel. But there are several providers in the market today which has opened up a stiff competition among them. This is partially beneficial for the customers but has also given rise to several queries:

  • What solution will be the right one for my business?
  • How is video conferencing different from remote desktop support or web meetings?
  • Is video conferencing secure to discuss sensitive information?
  • Which video conferencing solutions are available in the market for different room sizes including executive room, small meeting room, big conference room and auditoriums?
  • Is there an instance where I can use video device over Wi-Fi?
  • Can I replace my IP phone with video endpoint but still retain the same extension?
  • I have no budget to buy a license for the multiparty feature but I need the service. Is there any other option I can explore?
  • Can I use my Skype for business with Telepresence?
  • Can I call my US and UK sales persons on their mobile devices via video device?
  • How secure is video conferencing as a means of communication?
  • If my video device went down, what will I use as the SLA and backup for my device?
  • I’m having a problem connecting branch offices and meeting rooms within a single video call. How can I be helped?

These are a few of the questions that are asked by customers generally. It is difficult to answer them all by generalizing everything because every customer has a different requirement; they all have different architectures, different allocated spaces, and different budgets. To provide the perfect solution, any provider requires all the necessary details so they can analyze and suggest the best options.

Types of Video Conferencing Solutions

Board Room Video Solution

There is a wide range of solutions to all boardrooms ranging from the small (4 people) to the large (18 people) boardrooms. Products such as Cisco IX series, TX series and MX series will totally change the way you conduct your business meetings to face to face meetings at ZERO travel cost. This solution comes with some of the advanced features like Speaker Track & Presenter Track camera, HD video Quality, Screen-sharing, and presentation on different devices like smartphones, Laptops, and Tablets.

Desktop Video Solution

You can now convert your desktop into a smart workspace ideal for video/audio call, screen-sharing, and screen extension. Using Cisco EX, DX series and video phones you can connect to board room-meetings and Web call with just a click of a button.

Mobile Video Solution

A mobile video solution has opened a world of new opportunities for companies having a presence in remote locations, home-workers & customers. Cisco Jabber, WebEx, Cisco CMR and Spark solution have totally changed the way we interact with everyone.

Apart from being used for business purpose, the mobile solution will prove to be a big-time success for your educational and training verticals. It will be as easy for you as doing a call with ZERO implementation and connect to multiple people through a single call.

Video Wall

Convert your non-functional brick wall to video wall and share timely and accurate information related to our business using HD video wall.

Cloud Solution

Cloud-based video conferencing solutions are available for you depending on your industry requirement. With them, you can create your own personal meeting rooms and invite your customers and colleagues over a video conference without investing in any hardware.

It’s time to save your business meeting expenses.

A good provider will offer a free consultancy to all their consumers. They will listen to your requirements, understand them, analyze them and only then suggest you the right solution for your business segment. With a right solution, you can collaborate with your employees but also with your clients, anywhere and anytime.

Flourish Your Business As A Travel Host And Open Your Home Based Travel Agency

Are you into traveling? Do you love to show your place to any new visitors? If so, then becoming a traveling host seems to be a great start for a bright future! You will be able to show others what your place holds, and earn lucrative bucks, in return. This travel host can be anyone, from your local reside willing to show you the place, or can be anyone else, residing in the host country for ages and well-acquainted with the changes. Furthermore, the host must be keen enough to share some of his experiences and real-life services to others. It can also help travelers to get the most of all trips. You can start your very own home based travel agency after becoming a traveler.

Difference to jot down

Now, you must be thinking about the difference between any travel host and a guide to that country. Well, the main difference lies in the charges. You will be charged some small amount for the professional tours if you compare it to the fees of professional guides. Therefore, you will end up saving a lot of money. On the other hand, the travel hosts’ services are quite good and informal, with all sorts of valid information about tourist attraction spots. They will mingle with you like a friend, and will help you to enjoy your tour more.

Offer you with customized programs

As the travel host is not any professional guide, therefore; you will not come across any set standard of the traveling program. The host will chalk out a customized plan, every time a new visitor comes his way. Therefore, even if you plan to take his service twice, you will be presented with different tours always with him. Furthermore, you have the right to decide on what to do and what not to. The best part is that you do not have to stick with any group of travelers.

Find your perfect host

If you want to diversify your home based travel agency, then you can always rely on someone more than just a travel host. You can procure the help of vehicle, guide and interpreter as a complete set. Furthermore, there are three other types of groups available, such as guide, vehicle plus guide, and interpreter plus guide. It will not just help in expanding your business, but further, help in attracting new clients. This is one of the new ways of earning bucks and leads a content life.

Online Business Travel and Time Sharing

The term “staycation” is a paradox in itself. It has the word “stay” in it, which is the total opposite of the other half of the word-vacation, which means to spend time away from home. However, the amalgamation of both terms brings out a new meaning, and it’s something quite a lot of people do these days, and that is to have some semblance of vacation while staying in. If flying out to another destination is a hassle, or when a weekend getaway at the beach costs an arm and a leg, spending the day in a place close to home, or at a place that’s homey enough could be the best option.

Since staying in has become a new way to spend leisure time, it would be wise to start investing in timesharing. Whether it’s for your personal use, or for online business travel, it will take a while before this trend gets old. A timeshare property is a place or resort that actually allows investors to purchase rights to own that property for a period of time. The customers could either own a property for a specific time each year, or if it has more than one property, the rights could be extended to those locations as well. Moreover, timeshare properties are not limited to resorts and hotels. This is also an option for posh condominiums or vacation houses.

People actually love staying in, especially if the amenities are superb and the other option will either clear out their bank accounts or cut the vacation short because of long travel time. Since your stay at a timeshare property is considered “pre-paid,” you don’t have to spring for cash every time you think about going away for a while. The cost of staying in a timeshare property is a lot lower compared to renting a hotel room or a space at another resort. Although the term itself is alarming because you’d think it is really that expensive to buy a part of the property, this is how it actually works: instead of buying the property yourself, you share the ownership to several other people so that you can stay there for a specific time each year.

Another thing to consider about timesharing is the kind of accommodation it offers. Sure, you can scout for low vacation packages online if you are that good at booking discount vacations. However, if you know your way around online business travel, you will know that investing in timeshare properties is the best way to go about it. Discount vacations offers you low rates, but at the expense of the quality of your accommodation. With timeshare, on the other hand, you practically own part of that resort, hotel, or condominium, that is why getting to stay there without having to pay much does not mean you have to cut corners around the quality of your vacation. Investing in timeshare actually gives you a higher standard of accommodation-if not the highest, it is at least a higher standard than most discount vacations can offer.

Investing in timeshare also gives you a guarantee that you have a place to stay or have your vacation in for at least a week every year. Timeshare are usually recorded in a public register, so not only does it trumps the shady nature of some travel packages, but it also means that you have rights to ownership in that specific property for a lifetime, provided that you pay annual fees on time. You’re even doing yourself a favor when you invest in a timeshare-if you’re the type of person who is really uptight when it comes to work, it will be like you are driving yourself to have at least a week of time off from work by owning a timeshare.

Investing a timeshare offers a lot of advantages, as mentioned earlier. If you’ll compare it to the amount of money you spend on vacations each year, you’ll still get a better deal in a timeshare. It does not really matter if you’re looking at personal use or online business travel purposes. The important thing to note is that it is a worthy investment, and probably the smartest place to put your money into.

Why Your Business Needs A Corporate Travel Company

As a business owner, you know that your time is limited. So, you need to make sure that you employ it the best way you can.

If there is one thing that most business owners tend to do that take them too much time is traveling? Even though you might need to do is frequently, the truth is that when you use a regular airline, the most unexpected things can happen, leading you to even more time waste. So, one of the best things you can do is to hire a corporate travel company. Here’s why:

#1: Save Time:

As we already mentioned above, this is one of the main reasons why you absolutely need a corporate travel company. When you have a more efficient booking process, you’re leaving your employees with more time for their actual tasks.

#2: Get The Best Fares:

Even though you may already have your personal agent working on your travels for you and your business, the truth is that when you hire a corporate travel company, you’ll be able to enjoy even more savings.

#3: The Best Support:

When you work with a corporate travel agency, you can be sure they will be there, for you, round the clock. The truth is that these companies have local representatives that can help your staff to get everything they need in case there is any travel interruption.

#4: Dealing and Overcoming With Travel Problems:

If you have been handling travels alone, you know problems can come up anytime. From having your flight canceled with or without a reason, cabin strikes, among so many others, are becoming more frequent and can jeopardize your business. When you already have a corporate travel company, you just need to call them and they will make all the necessary changes so that you can still have your flight.

#5: Professional Service:

When you work with a corporate travel you can be sure you will have the best professionals working with you. One of the best things is that you will have an annual meetings with them. This meeting is extremely important for both parts since it will allow you to tell the corporate travel agency your feedback, and for them, this is a great way to keep improving their quality.

To make sure that you stop wasting your precious time and money, just give corporate travel a call or fill out the form. You can be sure they are one of the best and that they will take good care of you and your business.

Business Travel Tips!

When you travel the world around you, it changes the world within you. That was one of my quotes a few years ago from my travel blog when I was blogging the World Tour. It holds true to this day, in my opinion.

I have traveled a lot these past 3 months, in particular, and am often asked how I do it. How do I maintain my energy, my focus, my connections, my health. So here are my best travel tips – try them, you’ll like them.

TIP #1 – MAINTAIN REGULAR SLEEP HABITS. This is normal for me, anyway, whether I am travelling or not. But when I am on the road, it is critical for me to get my sleep. I adjust to the time zone I am in and go with it. I ensure the room is dark, cool, quiet and normally, when at conferences, for example, I always room alone. I know that many people find great joy sharing a room when attending events. That doesn’t work for me because I get enough stimulation during the business days and meetings – I don’t need the additional stimulation of someone in my room wanting to de-brief for the next few hours. It’s my down time so that I can get mentally ready for a restful sleep. That also means limited electronics or TV.

TIP #2 – GET REGULAR EXERCISE. These days, that can mean just counting your steps in the airports – they are so HUGE! It takes a lot of time and a lot of steps to get around. I hired a personal trainer this year and, when I am at home, it makes a huge difference. When I am on the road, I stay accountable, get my exercise and post photos for my trainer so I show evidence of my commitment. At a minimum, I do some Yoga moves which helps with stretching after long plane rides. I bring my exercise DVD with me, too – me and Jillian Roberts – look out world!

TIP #3 – I MAKE GOOD FOOD CHOICES. There’s not really any reason to look at a menu when I travel. I know what I regularly eat for breakfast, lunch and supper – now, remember my 80/20 rule. When I am somewhere special (like in Africa – I WILL have the chocolate croissants… just sayin’!) – I will try different foods. But for normal travel – I stick with my regular food choices – and rarely will I have a drink when I am on the road. It ruins my sleep. I know it. So why do it?

TIP #4: I KEEP MY GRATITUDE JOURNAL. Next to my exercise clothes, my Gratitude Journal is the one thing that goes in the suitcase. It IS when I travel, that I realize and recognize what a blessed life I live and I want to keep my attitude of gratitude.

TIP #5: KEEP A SENSE OF HUMOR. Travel these days can be frustrating, challenging and difficult. There are many things beyond my control. It is so important to keep a sense of humor – and I do that by people watching. I love it! Most people have their face glued to their electronic devices – I just sit, with my latte, and watch. It’s great for keeping stress levels low. (good quality chocolate and a Starbucks latte makes me a happy traveler! – find your happy place, too!)

I have travelled a lot and will continue to do so. My travels tips are not rocket science – they are pretty basic and yet they work. Try them – you’ll like them too.

Some Common Misconceptions About Business Travel

Whenever you come across a business traveler walking around the airport, there are many thoughts that cross your mind. Let me begin by warning you, a lot of these might be wrong.

Business travelers face plenty of challenges. Always racing against time, they are constantly going from one airport to another, catching one flight to another. Lack of sleep, longer than expected working hours and sometimes even skipping meals are what a lot of travelers can tell about their trips. Naturally, it is not easy to cope up with such a routine and only the toughest manage to survive.

Traveling faces a lot of misconceptions. Here are some of the top of these.

1. It’s Always about Pleasures

Typically, whenever you hear of business travelers a lot of people think this trip is all about pleasures. Of course, all they can think about at that time is a paid trip, free air travel and all the other expenses.

It’s true that most of the companies pay for the entire trip. However, it’s way more than free meals and a stay at luxurious hotels. A business travel person often have to sacrifice a lot of their leisure time in order to meet deadlines and fulfill tasks.

2. They Travel in Style

It’s true that business travelers mostly have a charismatic personality and no matter how many insomniac days they’ve lived, they’d always travel in style. But the definition of style for many is entirely a different one. When you think of business travelers, you are automatically inclined to think that they must be traveling through the luxurious classes of the airline and staying at the most royal hotels.

The truth is, not many companies are able to afford this. Many business travelers commonly fly through the economy class and stay at the budgeted hotels.

3. Formal Clothing

It’s always desired to arrive at a meeting looking your best. However, the luggage restrictions can often make it hard to carry your best suit to a foreign land for the business meetings. It’s a huge relief that the businessmen all around the globe understand this restriction.

So the next time you’re eager to spot a traveler, they don’t always have to be in a suit to qualify as one. A fine looking pair of trousers and dress shirt would do an equally good job. A suit is no longer a qualification criterion of being a businessman.

4. A Lot of Work is Done

Of course, the trip is planned to get certain projects fulfilled. However, this is not always the case. Business traveling may not be always as successful as what the company has planned.

At times, business trips mean no work actually gets done. However, that trip might open more pathways to future successes. The trip might keep you very busy, but the company might not get the desired results.