When you are dealing with multiple flight plans and multiple itineraries, in cities that are notorious for frequent traffic issues, you need to have back up support and a plan for when things go awry.
Itineraries all sorted, briefs all complete, everyone on their way, well, except Angela whose connection from Amsterdam has been cancelled so she will arrive 12 hours after everyone else, and John who had a great pre-mission meeting in Singapore and missed his flight to Shanghai.
How? Well there is an overall mission itinerary, and then there are individual company itineraries and these all have meeting addresses in English and the native language, timings and contact numbers and instructions for as many eventualities as we can think of and have experienced.
So, your flight is delayed/cancelled/re-routed – let us know, we will advise the pick-up team who have the flight details anyway and are checking for delays before heading to the pick-up area. You arrive and can’t see your name plate – call us, the number is on your itinerary, we will guide you to meet or advise alternatives to get to the hotel. Stuck in traffic between meetings, we are there to contact the next meeting and advise/re-schedule. You wake up feeling poorly and can’t travel today – we will try to get as many of your meetings to come visit the hotel as possible if you are fit to talk, otherwise we will re-schedule for a future conference call – of course this is not as good as face to face meeting and getting to see the potential partner’s premises, but you cannot know when poor health will strike! We try to think of all the possible hiccups – most we have experienced before, but even if something new happens, you know who to turn to for support.
o Mission itinerary overview o Mission team introductions
o Mission events schedule and transport/badging/networking arrangements
o VIP reception details, who’s who, format, what to expect, the opportunity
o Overall transport arrangements
o Mission meals arrangement (and advice on places to eat/entertain partners)
o Rendezvous points, mobile contacts, emergency procedures
o Transport arrangements
o Timings o Individual meeting briefs and advice on opportunity and approach
o Translation/Support arrangements
Some missions are low key and purely business to business affairs, others have an additional aim – to raise awareness of the home region and of the capability and talent available and to create higher level contact for further development of trade and investment. In the latter case some PR events are useful. To be successful you will want to attract the right local government departments, with the right level of local (or national) officials and perhaps sector specific key note speakers. HMC can help you do this through our existing local network of government officials, multiple sector industry associations, and wide influencer groups, in various key regions throughout the world. In addition, we engage with your Embassy/Consulate teams to increase access to officialdom as necessary.
The main role of a reception is to network – at agency level this is aimed at government contacts and sector associations where it will be vital to build relationships which can help for future. For the companies on the mission, these sector people will be useful for future expansion of contacts. However, key people from your own itinerary can also be invited and this offers a great opportunity to network in a less formal structure as well as a demonstration of how serious you and your region are about doing business.
Translators or Business Support – there is a big difference. You may be a seasoned business traveler already, but being fluent in all key languages is near impossible, and the occasional translator may be necessary. However, sometimes you need to be able to read between the lines of the conversation and need to understand the cultural differences in whatever country you are visiting.
In general, translators will offer a literal translation of what is being said. Some are excellent at adding value, but not many are business people who can ‘read’ what is going on in a meeting, and not many will actively work on your behalf and offer a proper de-briefing and their insight into what was and was not said during a meeting.
If you are new to trade missions in foreign countries, you really need someone who can do more than translate, you need them to fully understand your pitch so that they can ensure the others in a meeting have understood it properly. They need to understand what your objectives are for each meeting and what your short-term strategy is for this trip and for the chosen market in general, this way they can help steer the meeting rather than simply translate what each side is saying. They can question to ensure clear understanding on both sides and they can help drive the meeting in the right direction, especially if the other side has caught the wrong drift and is veering away through misunderstanding.
More importantly, after the meeting, they can give you a greater insight to what actually happened and advice on how engaged the partner was and how strongly you should pursue the opportunity arising.
Our global HMC team have strong backgrounds in business and understand how to steer a meeting so if you need this additional support, you have someone there in your corner.