You’ll find dozens of articles and tips about traveling abroad. Some are applicable to our business travel as well as for pleasure. While most tips will focus on Europe, the cultures of Latin America have a deep European influence and can be a source of valuable tips when traveling for work.
Here are a few tips from Puente Cultural Integration for business travel in Latin America:
- Dress the part
- Err on the side of formality
- Even (or especially) for social events – Latin Americans will dress up
- No tennis shoes unless it’s an athletic event
- You can always take off the sport coat & tie if you are overdressed
- If everyone else is in business dress & you show up in khakis / polo – what role do you play?
- Eat the local cuisine with your hosts
- Nothing can kill a deal faster than your desire to eat at McDonald’s or TGI Friday’s
- Insist that they take you to a local restaurant & let them order for you
- One person (usually the highest exec) always picks up the check (do not offer to split the bill)
- If you are buying the meal say “Les invito” (I’m inviting you all) & you must ASK the waiter for the bill “La cuenta, por favor” – they will never just bring it.
- Enjoy your meal – it is not uncommon for a “business” lunch / dinner to last 2-3 hours.
- Say “Provecho” (Bon Apetit) before eating & “¡Salud!” (Cheers!) before drinking
- Business is done after hours
- Relationships matter – ask about their family
- Real conversations matter – find out what they love to do
- Business deals will be sealed the next day, don’t insist on keeping the business talk going out of the office
- Use the out-of-office “social” time to build the relationship & the business will get handled more effectively
- Be really careful with taxis
- Only use radio taxis or a business/hotel car service
- Ask the hotel concierge
- Never hail a cab off the street
More useful tips can be found from on msn.com “How to NOT be an Ugly American Abroad”.
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If your company is in the Metro Detroit or Chicago areas and would like Puente Cultural Integration to provide consulting, cross-cultural or diversity training for your staff, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote.