Day after day, economics news about China hit the headlines of international press. It appears that no organization, company with international ambitions would afford not to be in China as China is an increasingly important manufacturing and trading hub for many international business travelers. However, the journey can be daunting for both inexperienced and seasoned travelers since it presents unique challenges and opportunities when compared to work-related visits to Western countries. Here are some important tips for ensuring an effective, economical and enjoyable business trip to China:
Plan well before china visit
1. Ensure you have applied for a visa to travel to China
2. Change plenty of Reminbi notes as credit cards and US dollars are not widely accepted
3. Reserve hotel rooms and domestic air tickets ahead especially if travelling during golden travel peak periods in China.
4. Prepare a small medical kit as you may fall sick from the local food or from too much hectic travel
5. Have a handy English to Chinese phrase book as most Chinese do not speak nor understand English
6. Get a useful business guide on insider guide to Chinese business culture
7. Prepare mentally that some parts of China will be crowded, nosiy and dirty
8 Hire a qualified Chinese interpreter to escort you during china business trip
Traveling in China on its holidays can be a nightmare. Plan your trip carefully so you know what to expect on the Chinese Official Holidays. China-briefing.com is a good source, so search for the current year. While the holidays may be the same from year to year, even tied to fixed dates, the entire holiday period will shift. New schedules are posted in December, just a week or so before the year begins. Do not assume the May Day holiday is May 1-3. It might be April 29 and 30 and May 1. That mistake might ruin sightseeing and cause you to be stranded without transport tickets.
Passport & Visa
Your passport should have at least one blank visa page and be valid for six months or more. Americans need a visa if they are traveling to mainland China but not for Hong Kong. If you will be entering China more than once on your trip, such as going to and from Hong Kong, apply for a multiple-entry visa.
Hire a qualified interpreter for your first business trip to China
In today’s globalized economy, one cannot down play the significance of translation services during overseas trips. To make your business trip a success you need to communicate with your potential customers in their own language. By communicating with them in their own language, you can gain their trust and their business as well.
China's official language is Mandarin, you should be prepared for the possibility in Chinese business life that the person you are speaking to does not have a complete command of the English language. Beware: your Chinese counterparts with good command of writing English≠ Good command of spoken English. Having the ability to communicate effectively through an excellent interpreter is critical.
Rely on a unprofessional or simply a unskilled interpreter can be a nightmare to your business trip in China and in fact this could completely messed up even the most carefully planned business trip.
Unlike most interpreters in China, our interpreter fully understand western business mentality. Not only can we offer interpreter service but also China Business consultancy service. We will act as your own business interpreter, assistant, Consultant, a buying agent and legal counsel. NOT ONLY help you overcome the language barrier, But also stand your side and try our best to protect your interests in business processing.
Take taxis everywhere
Chinese taxis are cheap and efficient. Take them everywhere. You will rarely pay more than the equivalent of US$10 to get from meeting to meeting in major cities in China.
Taxi industry is very tightly regulated in China. One or two complaints from customers can make them lose their license, so normally cab drivers won’t rip you off too much. The taxi stop at the airport is supervised by a special team. You’ll wait at the line and the operators will call the cab for you. Make sure you always get the receipt in case you left something in the car.
You should also think about getting a hotel car to pick you up this is usually like 2-3 times more expensive ($60) but is a much more comfortable ride after a 12 hour flight and they know where they are going.
If you have a lot of meetings, it would be better to hire a car and driver.At some times of the day it could take an hour to get a taxi.
Register with Ctrip, Elong to reserve hotel rooms and domestic air tickets
Ctrip (www.ctrip.com) and Elong( www.elong.net) are the Chinese equivalent of Expedia. It's one of the best sites for booking hotels in China. Their prices are competitive and the service is reliable. You can even receive immediate booking confirmation by text message to your mobile phone.
Know that some hotels cater to the domestic market, not foreigners
For some business people, it's much more convenient to stay in a name-brand hotel that caters to foreigners such as a Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott. Staff at hotels like these, including those who work in the business center, will speak English.
Staying at a hotel that caters to domestic Chinese tourists can be frustrating and disorienting since they may not have English-speaking staff or English television channels. However, these hotels are often cheaper.
So how do you identify whether a hotel caters to the Western or domestic market? Check Tripadvisor (www.tripadvisor.com). Chinese-style hotels usually have lots of Chinese reviews from DaoDao and few reviews from Tripadvisor members.
You're going to need a mobile phone while in China, and a local telephone number. Bring an unlocked phone with you, then purchase a SIM card at China Mobile. For 100RMB (about US$15) you can get the SIM card and 50 minutes of prepaid talk time. Later you can recharge the phone with more minutes by purchasing a recharge card at a local convenience store
A booth located in the baggage claim area at Beijing airport sells SIM cards.
At the Shanghai airport, there is a vending machine that sells disposable mobile phones with prepaid minutes
One of the most economical communications tools is Skype which works over most Internet connections in China. You can call other Skype users throughout the world for free or pay a low rate for most calls to landlines or mobile phones in other countries.
High-speed Internet access is available at most hotels with business customers. Fast WiFi is increasingly common throughout China and can be used for free in many coffee shops and restaurants. And while some U.S. websites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked, accessing and using the Internet in China will seem quite familiar for the most part. However, if you try to use Google and don’t understand Chinese, you will likely be frustrated since searches are routed through Google in Hong Kong and the buttons appear in Chinese characters.
Money and Credit Cards
Arrive with cash on hand so that you can exchange it for local currency, which you will need for incidentals like cabs and other transportation. Money is easily exchanged at the airport and most hotels. American ATM cards connected to major networks work in most large Chinese cities. Hotels, restaurants, tour companies, and shops in the larger cities will accept most major credit cards, but it is wise to carry two different types such as a Visa and MasterCard to be safe. Also, be aware that many businesses impose a surcharge for the use of foreign credit cards so paying cash can provide a cost savings.
If you try to use credit cards while traveling yet haven’t told the issuers when you will be in China, you might have your card suspended for suspicion of fraud. To avoid this hassle, call your credit card companies before you depart so they know that you’ll be in China. Still, even with such precaution, some ATMs might not permit you to make withdrawals with credit cards and you’ll have to shop around to find one that does. Also, it pays to check with your credit card and ATM issuers to see what rates they charge for usage in China since fees and percentages vary considerably.
Language Barriers and Other Cultural Issues
It’s always a good idea to learn a few phrases in Chinese. Your Chinese counterparts will be pleased with your effort. You probably won’t be able to do more than that unless you plan to really study the language. Remember that there are two major forms of Chinese, Mandarin and Cantonese. Many Chinese people living in other countries speak Cantonese because the people of the southern shoreline are more likely to emigrate. However, outside of that southern shore area and Hong Kong, most people speak Mandarin. The two dialects can be quite different.
You will almost always need to hire a translator for your discussions with factory owners. Even if you have been exchanging emails with them in English, you’ll find that their spoken English is simply not as good. Don’t rely on the factory to provide the interpreter. If the interpreter is not working for you, it’s too easy for them to translate in a way that favors the factory owner.
Keep in mind that the Chinese like to establish relationships before they talk business. Courtesy is very, very important. Don’t use a first name unless given permission. And remember, the Chinese write their last name first so if you are dealing with Mr. Whang Tso, he is really Mr. Whang.
You’ll be really pleased with the food. A great meal costs between $3 and $6. But, you’ll probably be asked to dinner and your Chinese host will pay for the meal. It’s a matter of honor for the Chinese host to take care of the bill
Show some respect
Avoid embarrassment — not just your own, but other people's too.
"Saving face" is one of the building blocks of Chinese culture, says Soeren Petersen, regional analyst for Asia at iJet, a travel risk consultancy. In practice, it means avoiding conflict and preserving other people's dignity, he says.
It can come in handy when dealing with anything from standard travel snafus to boardroom negotiations.
"If you say something euphemistic or somebody tells a white lie," he says, "it's OK for everybody to know that the truth is somewhere in the middle, but not hammer it out until everybody is humiliated."
Going to China is not an obvious or simple decision. Weigh your reasons and the costs and benefits carefully. If you decide to do it, establish contacts and plan an itinerary ahead of time. Be prepared for travel challenges. But, also be prepared for delightful, savvy business people, wonderful food and a cultural adventure.
Tommy China Business Consulting
Unit 7034, 7 floor , XinHua Building East Block.
No 2018, ShenNan Avenue, FuTian District
ShenZhen, China. Post code:518053
Tel: 86-755-25809219, Fax: 86-755-83256658