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You’re heading to an important business meeting on a nine hour flight packed with 234 other people. The lady sitting next to you has fallen asleep on your shoulder while the gentleman beside you has decided he owns your armrest. The kid across the aisle is listening to his headphones so loud; it’ll be a miracle if he still has his hearing by the time you land.

Travel Etiquette


When travelling for business, shrinking airplane space, an abundance of different cultures and thin hotel rooms all bring about the question of travel etiquette. Travelling for business is not the same as travelling on vacation. You are representing your company and therefore should be on your best behavior. In my many years of working in the travel industry, I’ve come to learn that travel etiquette is something that all of our clients should familiarize themselves with prior to takeoff. This is especially the case when travelling to a new country that has different customs that you may be unfamiliar with.

Etiquette in the sky
Travel etiquette starts from the minute you step foot in the airport. When walking to your gate on the moving walkway, be sure to keep to the left when walking and stand on the right when stationary. Every second counts when it comes to business travellers including the time it takes to get from the check-in counter to your departure gate. Once in the boarding area, try not to take up the seats around you. All too many times I’ve seen people fill seats with their bags not realizing that everyone deserves a place to sit.

After checking in, going through security and finding your gate, there’s no better feeling than hearing your flight number called for boarding. Although you may be tempted to jump ahead of everyone else, this is poor etiquette. It is important to board with your zone as it ensures a fast and efficient process. Once in the air, you may be tempted to recline your seat but as a courtesy, let the person behind you know. This will give them a chance to finish what they’re doing and readjust before your seat impedes their area.

Hotel Etiquette
After a long day of business meetings, every business traveller knows that your hotel room becomes your sanctuary. While many rooms are soundproof, slamming doors, noisy neighbours and hallway hooligans are amongst some of the top worst behaviors at a hotel. It’s important to always keep in mind that sounds travels. Be mindful of your neighbours by keeping your in-room-volume to a minimum.

Another important part of hotel etiquette is knowing when to tip:

Parking Valet – dropping off and picking up of your vehicle
Porter – after bags have been dropped off
Concierge – at the end of your stay
Cleaning Staff – each morning
Doorman – upon arrival and departure

Culture Etiquette
We live in a world where thousands of cultures are interacting every day. It would be almost impossible to know all of the best practices when it comes to culture etiquette. Travel Etiquette is an excellent online resource for understanding local customs and traditions. You don’t want to find yourself underdressed in Saudi Arabia or chewing gum in Singapore – both of which are culture faux pas. Before you travel to your next international destination, I recommend looking up some of the prominent customs and traditions in the city where you’ll be spending the majority of your time.

Dining Etiquette
When travelling for business, it is very likely that you’ll be dining out with your colleagues and clients. The country that you’re visiting may have completely different dining practices than what you’re used to. You could find yourself sitting on the floor, eating with chop sticks or even your hands. You should review dining etiquette and common rules before travelling to a new destination. The Etiquette Scholar is a great source for everything from wine to international dining guidelines.

About the Author
As the Vice President of Marketing and Loyalty at Vision Travel Solutions, Stephen Smith is responsible for corporate and leisure travel and meetings and incentives marketing mix for the largest travel management company in Canada. Passionate about every aspect of travel, Smith has journeyed to various countries all over the world and has extensive knowledge of the travel industry.

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