Back on the Road: Thoughts on post-pandemic international business travel

April 6, 2022
Back on the Road: Thoughts on post-pandemic international business travel

Albert Liu – Director of U.S. Commercial Service in Iowa

International business travel, which took a big hit during the pandemic, is finally showing green shoots again. We see more and more in-person conferences, trade shows and business meetings. While most of the rules and good practices remain the same for international travel, we do face new challenges to get back on the road in the new normal.

Public health control will remain a top consideration to prepare for a safe and smooth business trip. It is crucial to have the most updated info on U.S. and destination countries’ requirements on COVID-19. When traveling, be sure to bring all digital and paper documents, such as vaccination record card and test result document, and add extra masks and travel-sized hand sanitizer to your packing list.

For more than two years, conferencing and collaboration technology platforms took the place for flights, hotels, and board rooms. While doing business virtually has proved to be effective to a certain degree and for certain areas, the inability to get together face-to-face challenged business success in many ways. As the travel environment continues to improve, we are facing a new calculus in determining whether to get on a plane or just get online. It is easy to calculate the cost saving for virtual meetings, but it is hard to estimate the opportunity loss for not being able to establish the personal relationship and trust which are crucial for successful international business. If you see long term and mutually trusted relationship as an asset, those well-planned productive travels definitely add up to investment rather than only expense spending.

Back on the road safe and productive, let’s plan our trips with business sense and prepare them carefully.

U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and helps U.S. businesses export and grow international. They have access to more than 80 countries through their global network and can help companies with on-the-ground knowledge and connections in-country. There is an office in Des Moines that can assist Iowa companies – please contact Mr. Albert Liu for more information at albert.liu@trade.gov.

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