Have you ever faced travel difficulties while visiting a Chinese supplier? Maybe you got lost in the middle of Guangzhou South Railway station. Or maybe the driver that was supposed to pick you up from your hotel in Shanghai never showed. Planning your China business trip can be a painful process. This is particularly true when there are multiple suppliers and different cities to visit.
Many importers rely on factories or agents based in China to make local arrangements on their behalf. And this is fine if you are just visiting one factory. But it can take away control of your movements and leave you at the whim of the supplier or agent.
By following the below steps, you can take control and plan your own China business trip, allowing you the freedom to visit new suppliers and travel on your own terms.
Tip #1: Fly out from the last and nearest major city of your trip
Many business travelers are required to visit more than one area while in China. Quite often, these areas may be in the south, middle or north of China. Sometimes it can be more convenient to fly in and out of different cities so as to avoid back-tracking to the original point of entry.
For example, let’s imagine you start your China business trip by flying in to Hong Kong to visit Southern cities. If you’re planning to visit Northern areas as well, flying out via Shanghai or Beijing may cost a little more than a direct return flight from Hong Kong. But the time saved beats heading back to Hong Kong to catch the return plane.
Tip #2: Book your own domestic flights and hotels within China
When visiting suppliers in different cities, it can be difficult to arrange your schedule when the factory or agent is making the hotel and flight bookings.
By using Chinese websites like C-trip, you can make your own domestic flight bookings ahead of schedule. Since C-trip is a China-based website, quite often the prices advertised are much cheaper than those offered by foreign travel websites. C-trip also allows you to search and select the most appropriate flights or hotels based on your budget and time schedule. For these reasons, C-trip can give you a huge leg up when planning your next China business trip.
Tip #3: Use your own driver when visiting several factories in one area
While having the factory arrange transport to and from your hotel is very convenient and cost saving, this can make factory visits very time consuming. You could find an entire day is tied up just visiting a single factory.
Instead, organise your own driver via your hotel concierge or via your independent quality control partner or agent. This way, you’ll have the freedom to visit more than one factory in a day, and the suppliers won’t need to know exactly where or whom you are visiting. If you really want to blow your hair back, hop on the back of a motorcycle – at your own risk, of course!
Tip #4: Bring an independent translator
Most factories you visit will have English-speaking sales staff. But a lot is said in Chinese that you are not privy to, and this could be important information. Aside from literal translation, cultural differences could lead to a misunderstanding where a factory representative says one thing but means something very different.
Bring your own independent translator. An independent translator can help you to pick up on nuances, connotations and other less obvious points discussed in Chinese after a meeting. The translator will also be able to advise you on what the factory actually means, which can be a major benefit, particularly during negotiation.
If you have another China business trip coming up, why not consider planning it yourself to give you extra independence and control? Planning your trip with the following tips in mind will help you to keep within your budget and stick to your schedule:
- Fly out from the last major city you visit
- Book any domestic flights and hotels within China
- Hire your own driver when visiting multiple factories
- Hire an independent translator
Follow these steps and take control when you plan your next China business trip!