One of the more popular destinations out of Melbourne's airport is China. According to Mastercard's Global Destination Cities Index, China has some of the most visited cities in the world. Cities like Shanghai received over 6.12 million overnight visitors in 2016 and Hong Kong welcomed 8.37 million.
Because China has such a big influence on the world's economy, you can bet that much of that travel is for business travel. After all, China is Australia's number one export market and is a major source of foreign direct investment, reports Australian Trade and Investment Commission.
If you're doing business in China, you need to know that things are done a little differently than Australia. If you want to impress your clients, then you need to be aware of these differences as to not cause offence or hurt business.
Here are some things you need to know about China when you're travelling for business.
Unless you are fluent in the regional language, you might what to have some things such as your hotel name, directions and clients already translated when you get there. If you have them written down you can easily give them to a taxi driver in case they don't speak English. It's the best way to avoid confusion, and likely ensuing frustration, when you arrive. You don't want to start your trip with getting lost in a foreign country.
Once you get to China, the internet will be a little different – for one, you won't be able to get on Google! There is a censorship in the country that keeps people from getting on sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, even Snapchat, but of course, Google is one of the biggest tools for businessmen, so this could pose as an issue. If you need to check email, or if you were planning on accessing your presentation materials from your Google Drive make sure you have all the documents you need loaded onto your computer so you are able to access them.
However, there are a couple of virtual private network (VPN) options that you can download before getting there. They essentially make your IP address think that it's someplace where your normal sites are allowed. This can also help keep your computer safe from an attack should you try to connect to a public Wi-Fi service. The most popular VPNs in China are Astril, Strong and Express.
Download WeChat so you can connect with your clients on a personal level.
Of course, you could always download the Chinese version of social media sites – WeChat (the Facebook/Instagram/Whatsapp) or Baidu (Google) for when you arrive. Additionally, download WeChat so you can connect with your clients on a personal level. This takes us to the next lesson about business in China: etiquette.
Know the customs and etiquette
If you want to make a good impression on Chinese businessmen, you need to know their customs and proper etiquette. These are very important to understand – get them wrong and you could seriously damage the relationship, if it is salvageable at all!
According an interview in Business Insider with the founder of China's finishing school Institute Sarita, Sara Jane Ho, one of the first things you can do to make a good impression is get new business cards printed. Get these new cards with English and Chinese as this will show an eagerness to get involved with the language.
That said, Ho explained that you also need to know how to present the card. Give it to your clients with both hands, Chinese side up. Receive the card in the same way, and look it over as this will also show your willingness to learn about the person.
Make sure you are keeping the Chinese culture in mind, like their use of the Lunar calendar. Scheduling business meetings or calls should be based around the dates of the Chinese calendar, like the Chinese New Year.
And finally, be careful about what you wear. You might think your white business shirt looks sharp, but in China, this colour is most associated with death. Red is the colour of good fortune! This is also something to keep in mind about your branding colours.
Before you go into business with China you need to do your research and make sure your company is abiding by the appropriate values and customs.
At the end of the day, before you go into business with China, you need to do your research and make sure your company is abiding by the appropriate values and customs of the people you are going into partner with.
Don't forget, when you're travelling out of Melbourne's airport, you can leave your car with Pacific Airport Parking. We'll take your keys and deal with the hassle of trying to find a parking spot for a low fee. Check your rates today, and explore the various services we offer, including car detailing!