The global marketplace is becoming smaller, and travelling has become an essential part of doing business. Despite technological advances that make it easy for people to communicate over long distances, nothing fosters trust and enables relationship building like a face to face meeting. On the surface, business travel became very easy, just pack your suit and passport and before you know it you are cruising between the clouds sipping a gin and tonic. It’s easy to forget that all it takes is a lost passport, a misunderstanding with local authorities or a natural disaster, for things to go horribly wrong.
A successful business trip requires a bit more planning than when travelling for leisure. Not only do you want to avoid ending up in a bad situation due to poor planning, but you also want to successfully conclude the business goals behind the trip as smoothly as possible. If you look at it that way, preparing for a business trip requires a little more thought and planning than compiling an itinerary and setting up meetings.
We compiled a handy guide chock full of information to help you prepare for a successful business trip to Cape Town and counter most of the eventualities a business traveller might encounter.
Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city that is a haven to quirky tech intellectuals and up-and coming wealthy entrepreneurs. The unique Cape architecture , that blends old and new, and the coffee and wine culture is important in bringing together highly mobile, wealthy and tech savvy individuals. Cape Town boasts the presence of several universities which encourages research and academic innovation that spills over into the business hub around it. This combination of the lifestyle element and the city’s role as an African information nexus that make the city a preferred location from which to venture into the rest of Africa, earning it the title of “Gateway to Africa” .
Planning your Cape Town business trip.
Arrange your travel itinerary around the goal of the trip
When traveling for business, you want to make the best possible use of your time, however rushing from one meeting to the next and not taking care of your personal needs can lead to a lack of focus when it’s needed the most and impact the productivity of the trip. The ideal itinerary provides comfortable space between engagements and free time that can either be used for follow up meetings, informal relationship building or personal entertainment.
Include details of the transportation, flight information, hotels, business meetings, addresses and contact numbers for each reservation and appointment. Use a smartphone apps like tripit or an itinerary template such as the Microsoft business travel itinerary as a framework to which you can add all travel arrangements, meetings, dinners and contacts.
Get clued up on South African Business Culture
You stand a much better chance at successfully concluding business with South Africans if you have some insight on the customs and mannerism that may influence relationships. However South Africa is a very diverse country, and business travellers would do well to complement basic etiquette with an open mind. These resources will give you a general idea of the business environment,culture, customs, manners, etiquette, values to help you prepare: Expatica
What to pack
South Africans are generally laid back, which means that you can pack a toned down, yet professional wardrobe, unless you are attending a very prestigious event. Business attire in conservative colours, minus the jacket is the general norm for meetings in South Africa. You’ll be comfortable during the summer months , which lasts from October through to April, in light, summer-weight clothes most of the time, with a light jacket or cardigan for cooler evenings. During Cape Town’s the mild but rainy winter stretching from May to August, pack a jacket with some extra lining and a foldable umbrella. Cape Town is surrounded by some of the most scenic beaches in the world, so don’t forget to throw in your swimwear and sunscreen. Duct tape, a small flashlight and spare cash in South African currency will bail you out of many potentially sticky situations.
Make sure your documents are in order
You can check up on South Africa’s visa and port of entrance requirements on the department of home affairs website. Citizens from several countries are exempt from applying for a visa when travelling for South Africa, and you will be able to see on the website if you qualify for visa exempt travel.
Make two copies of all your important documents, such as your passports, itinerary and emergency contact information. Take one copy with you, packed in a different bag to the original, and leave a copy at home with an easily contactable person. Also consider storing a copy in a cloud services such as Google Drive. Having a separate record of your important details such as passport numbers, credit card numbers, etc.will be very useful if you lose your bag.
Travel insurance plans can reduce the burden of unexpected expenses and additional travel arrangements in the occurrence of a delay, cancellation, natural disaster , accident medical emergency or any other unplanned event. The insurance industry is very price competitive, but not all travel insurance plans provide the right balance between actual coverage and excess payable, which can leave you high and dry when and incident happens. When choosing travel insurance compare the price of your plan with the actual value it will provide when something unfortunate happens.
Choosing the right accommodation
Choosing the right hotel for your business trip is one of the most important decisions to make, as a wrong choice can wreck havoc on your entire trip. Like everybody else you have a set of unique needs that needs to be met in order for you to feel truly comfortable and at home, and taking time to uncover accommodation options and communicating with a few service providers before deciding on one can be well worth your time. Some of the points that is a good starting point for narrowing down on a good place to put your head down:
Distance from meeting locations and airport. Cape Town has South Africa’s worst traffic, says TomTom, and ranks 47th internationally on its list of the world’s most congested cities. Whether you choose to rent a car, taxi or commute, you will be affected by congestion if you happen to travel during peak hours. Staying closer to meeting locations will decrease the time you have to spend in traffic, reduce the risk of running late for meetings and allow you to get some extra sleep in the morning. You can get an estimate on traffic and travel time before your trip on Google maps.
Food. Find out what the food is served at the hotel and surrounding areas. It’s nice to have the option of a good or quick breakfast before you leave , while having quality restaurants that caters to your palate might also feature on your checklist, both for yourself and to host business meetings you may arrange.
A good night’s sleep. There are two factors that can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. A bad mattress and noise. Ask whether the hotel is on a busy street or near a nightclub, hospital, police station, major road or some other 24-hour operation. Smaller hotels generally have less ambient noise emanating from sources ice machines, lifts and the buzz of people coming and going after hours.
Business Friendly. A comfortable, organized area to work whenever you need is a must for business travel accommodation and should at least comprise a chair and desk, unlimited free wifi and the ability to print something on the premises.
Recommendations and reviews. Nothing beats a personal recommendation from an unbiased source source . Try to get references from friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances and check in on active forums such as reddit travel. Also check out reviews on sites such as Tripadvisor. The important thing is never to make any assumptions from recommendations, but to make sure to explicitly check if the feature or service that influenced your choice will be available for you.
The bare necessities. When at home, there are certain must-do’s when preparing for a workday, and those needs seldom change when travelling. Make sure that your chosen hotel has all the amenities and services you need to prepare for work in the morning, such as coffee and tea making facilities, ironing board with iron, laundry facility and more necessary amenities for the morning prep After a long day of work, business travellers also desire a seamless way to unwind in their hotel room like a fully equipped bathroom, air conditioning, outdoor space such as a garden or balcony and even a swimming pool if you like an afternoon swim.
Be prepared for and prevent emergencies.
Cape Town’s private medical facilities are of an international standard, and pharmacies are well stocked. Make sure that you have an adequate supply of prescription medication in their original packaging for the duration of your stay. HIV and AIDS is a major health concern in South Africa and it’s wise to take preventative measures where appropriate. When you are involved in an emergency, chances are that you will not be able to talk for yourself or need to relay critical information quickly, preparing a medical emergency card that is printed out and easily accessible can help with that.
Your card should include the names, phone numbers, and addresses or email addresses for the following:
- Family member or close contact remaining at home;
- Your doctor at home, your pharmacy, and your health care provider;
- Travel insurance (and any medevac insurance) information;
- Places of lodging at your destination with contact information;
- Your country’s embassy and / or consulate in South Africa.
- A list of your medications, including generic and brand names, reason for taking each, dosage information, and how often taken; and
- All medical conditions or allergies you have
Keep the original in your wallet and attached the following documents to the copy that you leave in your other luggage:
Items to attach or keep with this card include:
- A copy of your medical insurance card (keep the original in your wallet);
- At least one insurance claim form ;
- A signed letter from your doctor describing your general medical condition(s), and all current medications;
- A list of emergency care services and doctors that you have researched.
Most visitors to South Africa enjoy their visit without incident, but South Africa has a very high level of crime. Avoid visiting crime hotspots such as the central business district after dark and informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area unless you are accompanied by a local that you trust. The emergency
While in Cape Town
Transport in Cape Town
From the airport
Some accommodation establishments will arrange a point to point shuttle from the airport to your hotel on request, just be sure to check whether the cost is included in your stay or not. You don’t want to be caught short of cash. Cape Town also has a well-established Uber network for those who prefer something familiar and various international car hire companies operate kiosks at the airport. The City of Cape Town operates the myCiti bus service that runs from the Cape Town International Airport to the city centre, from which you can take a connecting bus to your accommodation destination, however navigating bus terminals after a long flight with luggage in tow might not a very attractive idea.
Commuting during your stay
Uber and many more taxi companies than you can count on one hand, some with their own downloadable smartphone apps, makes for efficient travel to and from business meetings and conference venues. Those who prefer a more immersive experience may like
The City of Cape Town is well connected with the efficiently run myCiti shuttle that service most major venues such as the Cape Town International Conference Centre and a reach that ensures that you will rarely spend more than a five to ten-minute walk to the nearest stop if you lodge in central Cape Town.
Most international and very good local car hire companies are represented at South Africa’s main airports and in most city centres. Vehicles may generally be picked up at one branch and dropped off at another branch at your destination. Any valid driver’s licence is accepted in South Africa, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is printed or authenticated in English. Remember to carry all your documentation with you when you travel, as traffic officers will expect to see it if they stop you for any reason. Car rental companies may have additional requirements
Taking some personal time is important, especially after a long flight or drive, whether it’s a quiet morning coffee, an energizing workout or experiencing the sight and sounds of the city. Cape Town with its scenic beaches, working port, sprawling vineyards and the iconic Table Mountain and activities such as surfing, hiking and diving, is the ideal city to mix business travel with a bit of leisure. You can also schedule your departure times so that you can have a few extra hours to experience the city without having to pay for an extra night.
Sorting out expenses and receipts can turn into a major headache while some travellers may even suffer personal losses when trying to claim back business expenses. Clear communication about what services are complimentary and what you will be billed for, and the ability of hotel staff to carry out instructions regarding separate invoicing and itemised billing can go a long way in alleviating the hassle associated with filing expense reports. If you are making the booking yourself, it’s a good idea to indicate that you are a business traveller, that you would like an itemised bill as well as inquire whether receipts and paperwork can be furnished in the format required by your expense report administrators.
It is always difficult to remain productive and avoid stress and distraction during a business trip if your basic personal needs are not met. The way things are done can differ drastically from city to city and even between one establishment and the next, it’s always wise to personally make sure that everything you need for business, personal and leisure purposes are provided for so that you can achieve the purpose of your trip with as little cost to your personal wellbeing as possible. When you have the right information, and put some good planning into it, your business trip can be enjoyable and rewarding.