Business travel etiquette

Business travel etiquette

Business travel etiquette

In many ways, business travel can be much different from leisure travel. Not only are you representing yourself, you are representing your company. The impressions you make as a visiting business can be the deciding factor in whether or not the business relationship will thrive. A few simple etiquette tips can help make your business trip not only easier, but also more effective.


Your attire is the first key to successful business travel. If your schedule allows, travel in comfortable clothes and change when you get to your destination. This will keep your stress level down and help keep you focused on your mission. Pack an extra outfit or suit even if you are only staying for the night. Your business attire should match or can be just a little more formal than the normal attire of the company you are visiting. Skip the casual-Friday dress and present yourself in a professional manner to ensure making only the best impression.


Whether you are traveling by car, train or plane, it is important that you maintain etiquette throughout the trip. If you are driving, make sure you have mapped out your trip even if you are using a GPS device. Have your train or plane tickets ready before you get in line and respect all attendants. If you conduct any meetings while in transit, make sure to respect those around you. Keep your voice low to avoid aggravating your neighbors and maintain confidentiality.


Maintaining punctuality is one of the easiest ways to make a good impression on business clients or associates. Timely or early arrivals show you are attentive and dedicated to the business relationship, its goals and its success. When you create your travel schedule, allow time so you can get from one point to the next without having to rush.

Cell Phones, Laptops

Technology is has become nearly a requirement in every industry. If you are traveling with your cell phone, laptop, be aware of how you use it. Your use of technology should never interrupt a business meeting or engagement. If you receive an important phone call, excuse yourself and thank people for their patience when you return. If you normally type meeting notes on your laptop when you are at home, consider writing them by hand on a business trip. Others may find typing disrespectful or annoying.


Have all your ideas and facts in order before any meeting; be ready to thoroughly address any concerns or questions that arise during your negotiation sessions. If you are traveling internationally, familiarize yourself with the nation’s culture and traditional business practices. While American business affairs and negotiations are generally conducted in a fast-paced manner, the conduct of business in other countries is much slower. For instance, the business cultures in the UAE and China prioritize respect and trust over getting things done quickly.


 Don’t hog seats in the boarding area. Planes are full, airports are busy, space is tight on board and in the gate area. Be kind and leave the seat next to you open so someone else can sit there. Too often I see people placing their luggage or newspapers on empty seats, even as the boarding area fills up and other passengers are left standing.

 Board with your zone. This one is plain and simple. Airlines assign boarding order for a reason, and it helps if everyone can just follow the rules. In many cases, people who board first paid for the privilege, so it’s only fair to honor it.

 Use the space under the seat in front of you. Perhaps the greatest stress a frequent traveler faces is the risk of having to check a bag because the overhead bins are full. Many times I’ve seen the bins packed with small purses, backpacks, and other items that could easily fit under the seat. You’ll have easier access to your items, your fellow passengers will appreciate having space for larger carry-ons, and we’ll all avoid flight delays caused by last minute checked bags.

 Check before you recline. Anyone who has ever flown has encountered the frustration of the person in front of you reclining the seat into your space. Yes, you have a right to recline, but wouldn’t it be nice to look behind you before you do it? Give that traveler behind you who is working on a computer a chance to close his laptop before your seat crushes it.

 Let people in front of you off the plane first. The plane pulls up to the gate and every person on board wants to be the first off the plane. Clearly that can’t happen, and we are a civilized society, so a simple rule will help keep people from being trampled upon arrival. If you are standing in the aisle, make sure the people in the row in front of you have a chance to exit before you start walking forward. Most people follow it, but every so often there’s a renegade who apparently didn’t receive the memo. Now you have.

 Middle seats get the armrests. I don’t know anyone who likes to sit in a middle seat, do you? Let’s give those unlucky travelers a break and at least let them use both armrests. If you’re seated at the window or the aisle, I think you can survive with the one armrest that’s dedicated to you.

 Don’t slam the hotel room door. Once the business traveler survives the stressful flight experience, she is almost home-free when she gets to the hotel. But there’s one big thing that can ruin a hotel stay: noise. Few hotels are soundproofed enough to keep loud noises from penetrating the sanctum of your room, and the worst offender here is the slamming door. When you enter and exit your room, why not close it gently?

 Keep the volume down. Continuing with noise-in-the-hotel theme, loud TVs and phone conversations can also drive your neighbors crazy. It’s easy to feel like you are safe and sound in your room and forget that sound travels. Especially late at night, turn it down so others can make the best of their precious hours of sleep.

 Wait for the next elevator. Perhaps one of the most controversial issues of our time – should people in the elevator push the “door open” button? Or should new arrivals just forego the closing doors and wait? My vote is for the latter. Just be patient, wait a few minutes for the next car to come. Hopefully others will do the same for you as the doors are about to close and whisk you away.

 Walk on the left, stand on the right. Every moving sidewalk I’ve ever seen in an airport has signs that say exactly that. So why do so many people straddle the entire width with their luggage, and just stand there like a lump of coal? Frequent travelers are busy and every minute counts, so why not step aside and let them get by you? And for you busy travelers whizzing by on the left – watch your rolling suitcases so you don’t club people as you whisk by.