As we reflect back at this years summer holidays we can’t help but be impressed by how much our friends and colleagues know about the location they are travelling to. Culture, dress, travel, the hotel, you name it, they seem to know it months before they go. Sadly, when we travel on business all to often we know little else than what is presented to us on our itinerary which can make us vulnerable to hostile situations. Here we have complied a brief set of tips for making your business trip safer:
Treat your trip like it you would your holiday destination and read up on the culture and dress code so you do not stand out as different by the way you dress and how you greet someone. Try to be familiar with the local (legal) taxis so you are confident when looking for one to take you to a place. Read up online about your hotel(s) and what is in the immediate area so you have a mental picture of what to expect. Try to establish if the city you are in has a British Embassy. Know the details of your itinerary verbatim!
Switch on your mind to being safety and security conscious whilst on your flight. Refresh yourself of your itinerary so you do not need to refer to it when in the Arrivals hall. Ask the cabin crew about the progress through the airport and where chauffeur or taxis can be found so you step through the Arrivals doors looking like a regular to the place. Seek out your chauffeur and confirm s/he is from the company you are booked with. Go directly to the car and only confirm the destination once inside the vehicle. Do not sleep during the transfer! As you are nearing your hotel, note the prominent points in the area. When entering the hotel, confidently approach the reception and limit information you give out to the receptionist. Once in your room, note the fire evacuation details and walk at least two routes.
Obtain a local map and ask the reception desk to point out the ‘know go’ areas. Avoid them – curiosity killed the cat! Ask reception for good restaurants and cross refer on Trip Advisor. Note where the police station and hospitals are on your map. Note where legal taxi ranks are and if possible, take a business card for emergencies. Identify on the map where you are attending the business meetings; visit these once in advance so you are able to attend looking confident and not standing out. Note the dress code of people in the areas you need to go and within reason, comply.
Remember that you are not on vacation. If you are not invited out by your hosts/clients, try to use the hotel restaurant if your trip is for just a couple of days. You should not need much cash (tips and taxis maybe) so take a sensible amount of currency with you but where possible, use a credit/debit card. Only take one card out with you and keep the other(s) in your room safe. If you are going out, ask your hosts where they would recommend – it should be a safe bet!! Basically stay low key for the few days you are there and spend your time brushing up on business matters.
As well as familiarising yourself with your hotel fire evacuation drills, try and factor in the need to get away from the hotel in haste and seek a safe route to a safe area. Consider that someone might be watching you so don’t set patterns; vary departure times and routes from the hotel and if possible vary your dress code. If it is possible, try to carry water, some energy bars, a small torch and ensure your mobile phone is fully charged prior to leaving your location each time. If you are going out at night or off of your itinerary agenda, tell someone. Give the hotel an estimated return time so they can at least pass this on if you are deemed missing.