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Tips For Smooth Business Travel

Katia Arias No Comments

Recently I had to organize a business trip and believe me when I tell you, it is not something you should take lightly. To ensure a smooth trip, I advise you to plan ahead and try to travel as light as possible.

Based on personal experience, I’ve put together a short list of tips to help you on your next trip.

1. Before going anywhere, check if you need a visa!

There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a ticket and then realizing you can’t enter the country. That’s why, before you do anything I advise you to check your destination country’s embassy website and review their entry requirements. Many countries have convenient exceptions but many others don’t and paying for a “rushed visa service” could end up raising your trip costs.

2. Book with a reliable airline

Everyone loves cheap, but cheap can sometimes turn to be more expensive. Booking cheap airlines can result in delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage or inconvenient malfunctions, which only adds to your stress and puts you in a bad mood.
To prevent any surprises and ensure a pleasant (and on schedule) trip, it’s better to book a reliable airline for a bit more.

3. Pack Light

Increase your peace of mind by avoiding checked luggage. Unless you absolutely need to check liquids or sharp objects, try to fit your clothes in a carry-on you can take with you at all times. Especially if you’re taking trains, subways or any other public form of transport, carrying a small bag will make your life easier.

4. Keep all your information in one place

If you’re visiting more than one country or city during your trip try to keep a binder or folder with all your reservations, flight tickets and important numbers/addresses. Make sure to book your hotels and locate the best mode of transport (if you’re not being picked up) before you go.

5. Keep local currency

From public transportation to hotels and cafés, there are many establishments (especially in small towns) that only accept cash. To ensure you can pay for any emergency it is always advisable to keep a good amount of money in local currency (depending on your lifestyle and needs).

6. Advise your international partners when you arrive and where you’ll stay

Letting your partners know about the technicalities of your trip could play to your advantage. They can offer to pick you up at the airport, advise you on the best hotels and tour you around. Keeping good personal relations with your partners can also increase your chances of closing that deal!

7. If it’s your first time visiting the country: do your research!

To avoid huge culture clash, make sure you look at pictures and maps of the places/areas you’re visiting. Learn some phrases in the foreign language and (if you’re going to Asia or Eastern Europe) you can even study some important symbols. That way you will avoid getting “too lost” or overwhelmed.

8. Take the new culture into account

Knowing how to properly address people of different cultures and bringing business cards in both your and their language shows a great deal of professionalism, commitment and respect. And proves to your partners that you appreciate not only their business but also them as people and as a culture.

9. Make room for sightseeing and fun

Lastly, it is not worth it to travel places if all you’re going to see is a meeting room. If you’re on a “very tight” schedule plan at least to have a meal outside or stroll down the street for a break.

If you have a bit more room for activities, plan to visit at least some of the most famous landmarks of the place!

If you find this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

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Where To Do Business In 2017!

Katia Arias No Comments

Gathering information from the World Bank, Forbes, Telegraph and the World Economic Forum, we’ve shortlisted 5 countries you must pay attention to in 2017.

Expert economists ranked these countries as the most “business friendly” so far, based on factors such as tax regulations, corruption levels, investor protection, infrastructure, property rights, entrepreneurial opportunities, credit, solvency and trade.

So, without further due: 2017’s countries to watch…

  1. New Zealand

New Zealand has been chosen #1 by many economic entities due to its economic and political stability, lack of red tape, low corruption levels and close proximity to the Asian economies.

According to the New Zealand Government, incorporating a business in NZ takes only a day and registering property takes no more than two.

New Zealand ranked #1 for protecting minority investors in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” in and is acclaimed for having an investor-friendly tax system that values capital development, international investment and research.

  1. Denmark

 Low corruption levels and high transparency rates make Denmark a very attractive country to invest in.

The World Bank considers Denmark one of the most business-friendly countries for its incredibly qualified work force, the ease to set up businesses and get work permits and it’s increased interest in clean technology.

Denmark is also offers great access to the European market, a great environment to develop as people, top-notch infrastructure and low corporate taxes compared to other nations in Europe.

  1. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is an incredible hub for investors from all over the world. With a fast growing GDP, the World Bank considers the UK #7 in the Ease of Doing Business.

According to the report, the UK offers smooth service when dealing with construction permits, it offers great infrastructure for business, high protection to minority investors and a business-friendly tax system.

Recently, through the “UK Trade & Investment” report, the UK Government committed to creating the most competitive tax regime in the G20.

The UK also has a leading position when it comes to FDI and assisting new investors with market research, stakeholder management, industry alliances and building market share.

  1. Sweden

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Sweden is a great place to do business not only because it offers a great atmosphere to develop professionally and personally but also because it empowers entrepreneurs to innovate, research and develop.

Sweden offers low corporate taxes (22% on net profits), great infrastructure for business, ease to register property and it ranks #15 globally for starting a business.

Sweden is also the largest market in North Europe and, like Denmark; it is filled with a highly qualified workforce.

  1. Canada

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 Canada offers it all: place where true life-work balance is possible, great opportunities to start your own business, financial and political stability and friendly tax systems.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked Canada’s workforces as the most highly educated amongst members of the OECD. And this, in turn, has attracted business from all over the world. Now Canada is working towards agreements that will give those who invest there, great access to both American and European markets.

Offering steady growth and few obstacles for investment, Canada has become one of the friendliest countries when it comes to business.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.nzte.govt.nz/en/invest/new-zealands-investment-advantage/
  2. http://www.investindk.com/Why-Denmark/10-good-reasons
  3. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/253662/Why_Invest_in_the_UK.pdf
  4. http://www.business-sweden.se/en/about-us/news-room/Press-Releases/Top-reasons-to-invest-in-Sweden/
  5. http://www.international.gc.ca/investo
  6. http://www.forbes.com/best-countries-for-business/
  7. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-world-s-best-country-clue-it-s-not-a-nordic-nation
  8. http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
  9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/globalbusiness/12051361/Revealed-The-20-best-countries-in-the-world-to-do-business.html?frame=2266604

 

 

Business English with International Business Academy

Experience and Travel within Guatemala City

Jackie Jacobsen No Comments

When I first came to Guatemala I was excited as well as nervous. I was not sure what to expect coming into a new culture. There are many differences here compared to the United States. For example with how people greet each other, the food, the language, and etc. It was challenging to adapt at first, but as time went by and I started to become close with people and get in a routine, which has helped me to consider this country a second home for me.

For my traveling within Guatemala it has been quite adventurous. Recently I had traveled to the Peten to visit the Mayan Ruins of Tikal. It was so beautiful and interesting. I have never seen or done anything so adventurous in my life. Walking through the Jungles of Tikal and climbing the ruins was a whole new experience for me that was very enjoyable. download (8)

Now with completing my internship in another country has been quite an experience in itself as well. The internship at IBA has been great. I have learned so much about important business topics as well as my own personal career development. I have also been working on developing a training for the Company, which has helped me learn how to use the skills I have learned in my studies within a real world setting.

Overall this experience has taught me many lessons thus far within my career as well as my personal life. I feel I have grown as a person and have conquered many fears and aspirations sense being here. I do not regret my decision to come and live in a new country to complete my internship because it has been one of the most beneficial experiences of my life. If you are considering traveling abroad to Guatemala or in general I say try anything to make it happen because it really does change you and helps put your life into perspective.

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A weekend trip to Lago de Atitlán for the the first time.

Patrick Gartrelle No Comments

My name is Patrick Gartrelle, 22 and I am currently Interning at IBA. A little bit about myself is I am a recent graduate with a degree in International Business. I am originally from New York City and have done a fair amount of travelling in my short 22 years. I have traveled to Latin America before but never to the Central America region. My time here at IBA allows me to travel on the weekends and recently I traveled to the famous Lago de Atitlán.

San Pedro la Laguna was most likely the most exciting trip I have taken so far, but the events that took place during the weekend trip and leading up to my arrival truly made the trip worth it.

A friend of mine from the United States Cindy, joined me on our weekend travel to Lake Atitlan and I am glad she came along. About 4 hours before we were supposed to depart Guatemala City our shuttle company informed us that they did not have room for us, which honestly almost killed the entire trip. I live fairly close to the airport so we walked over and Cindy was able to negotiate with her fluent skills to get us to San Pedro with an alternative shuttle company. We left about an hour later than we planned but this is where the most memorable bus ride I have taken throughout Guatemala began.

Our first leg of the trip was from Guate City to Antigua which was simple and quick and then we connect shuttles to the lake. The real fun began after we changed shuttles and embarked on what should have been a three hour journey. After Cindy and I boarded the shuttle we were greeted by some fellow Americans and a few Europeans. In the front of the van was a family of Guatemalans sharing the passenger front side seat which is more common here. Sometimes you see motorcycles with families speeding down the street, so at this point I was not surprised by anything having to do with transportation. About 30 mins into the journey we ran into dead stop traffic in practically the middle of nowhere. To make matters worse our shuttle sat behind the exhaust of a chicken bus for roughly an hour.

A chicken bus for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is an old American yellow school bus painted in crazy colors, blinged out with chrome rims and LED lights. You can hear chicken buses from miles away because they blast some of the best Spanish music and the exhaust is extreme loud. These are used to transport goods, people and of course chickens all throughout Guatemala. The chicken bus is essential to the local economy and the underground economy because of they’re in expense of operating. It cost about 1-3 USD to get anywhere in Guatemala via chicken bus. I have yet to take one but many travelers say it’s an “experience” and I’m just being a Pollo (a chicken). These buses blast huge piles of black smoke from its exhaust sometimes and being behind one in stop and go traffic is less than ideal. I am positive we all got a mouth full of fossil fuels at some point, but I didn’t die from it so no complaints.

We sat in traffic for about an hour and after finally seeing the source of the holdup which happened to be a car accident we were off again. The Shuttle at this point was very heavy and every seat was taken plus some improvised seats. Our shuttle was rattling and every a couple of miles it would die or the engine would just cut out. Without exaggeration our shuttles engine cut out over 50 times during our “3 hour journey”. As our shuttle struggled to make its way to the Lake we stopped along the route to pick up a random Guatemalan lady and she also just added to the weight and improvised seats in our bus made for 12, carrying now roughly 17 people. Somewhere along the drive the American crew received cabin fever and many songs were being sung in the rows behind us. I will not lie I chimed in for a few rounds of song. About 4 hours into our journey the shuttle pulled into a mechanic and they evaluated the car for about 20 mins. Eventually the shuttle was back on the road again but on the most death defying road I have ever been on. The street would give Lombard Street in San Francisco a run for its money. Our shuttle engine roared down these steep inclines making sharp hairpin turns about every 200 meters and I think it was the scariest road I’ve been on in my life, not to mention it was unpaved, had zero guard rails, plagued with potholes and the decent was extremely steep. The driver informed us that the engines noise was due to the lack of brakes he could apply on the hill because the breaks were too hot. Exactly what I wanted to hear…… in Spanish, that he wouldn’t use his brakes on the hill at around 15-20 mph, but yet again I didn’t die and we made it down the hill safely, so no complaints.

Eventually we made it to San Pedro about five and half hours later in the pitch dark. We checked into our hostel and were going to just call it a night but some friends I had met on a previous trip were standing right in front of us.

My friends I refer to as “The Germans” were a group of guys respectively from Germany that I met the prior weekend in Livington. We planned on meeting up in San Pedro but it was kind of a shock that we booked rooms in the same hostel directly next to each other. So it made the trip a little more satisfying to have some new friends to explore the little town with and their names were Freddie, Simon and Christian. That night the five of us all hung out and went to a local bar which had a disco, its actually satisfying to see a Guatemalan disco. We called it quits for that night and agreed after breakfast the next morning to meet up and do some exploring.

The next morning I opened the door of our room into the open air hallway similar to motel where the hotel is inside and outside and saw the most beautiful view ever. It was really nourishing to see these ridged mountains but Lake Aitilan is known for its green waters and 3 volcanoes, which we had yet to spot, I truly came to this region for the volcanoes. After breakfast the very punctual Germans met up with us and we walked around the very small town which you could cover in less than 4 hours and snapped some cool photos. I think this place lands in the top 10 places in natural beauty for sure and the fact that the region around the lake isn’t plagued with luxury hotels made it that much better.  We eventually made it to the end of the town and climbed up a series of rocks probably not our best idea but the view was one that I will always remember. That afternoon we rented kayaks for an hour and set out on the lake to get a new vantage point and one of my biggest regrets was not buying disposable cameras or risking my iPhone for these photos. I really wish I did because it was the clearest day and the sun was setting behind us and we were looking east so the volcanoes had a green and orange tint which was extraordinary. It was a once in a life time memory engraved in my mind which is okay, but I will try again to get that shot.

As we were in our kayaks we came across three young Guatemalan men. They were extra friendly and offered to show us around San Pedro but were originally from Guatemala City. They were speaking English very well, it was surprising for San Pedro because most locals didn’t speak more than one language. So a few weeks back Trevor (my boss) mentioned to me that call centers are making there way back to Guatemala. The government and Multi National Companies are reinvesting in call centers here and moving them back from the East. The only reason I mention this is, because one of the guys mentioned “the only reason I speak English is because of the call center jobs”. I was in shock, sort of, everything Trevor had told me had even made it back to the local people. It also just came to show how quick businesses change their models in order to stay competitive and save valuable dollars.

My friend Cindy, I forgot to mention is here in Guatemala on business so her job entails signing up hotels and guesthouses in South and Latin America. So the next morning (Sunday) we boarded a lancha which is similar to a boat and took a 30 min boat ride to Panajachel which is the largest city on the lake and by large no more than 15,000 people live in the town. Saying goodbye to Germans was a little hard because we had spent a series of two weekends together but all good things come to an end. The new view from the boat was even better than the last few views I had on Saturday because I could actually see all three volcanoes. This boat ride was not as terrifying as the boat ride I took the week prior to and from Livingston. As I mentioned Cindy was in Panajachel for business so we decided to split up and meet back at 3:30 for our shuttle back to Guate.

So I had time to myself where I could explore the markets. Here everything is colorful, with practically every color being used on an items such as shirts, quilts and worry dolls but I decided I rather explore than to spend money. So after Cindy and I separated I bought this shaved ice treat which turned out to be possibly the worst thing I had ever eaten. The man put hot sauce and black pepper on a shaved iced treat and I tried to have respect for the culture and eat it but it just tasted horrible so I attempted to give it to a little kid. The little guy unfortunately wasn’t to fond of my offer and didn’t except it, I don’t blame him. So I began to walk through the outskirts of the town. It was really nice in fact and I could say it was the most enjoyable walk I had taken in a long time. I just followed the shore line trying to find a great place to swim. I wanted a nice secluded spot where I could read and swim and take time to play with my Nikon and get some photos. About 30 mins along the lake and eventually found this awesome “spot” with no one around with a view of all 3 volcanoes. It kind of reminded me of all the generic photos I saw wen I googled Guatemala prior to my visit. Anyways I found this “spot” and I have never been so silent in my life, I swam alone, took some pictures and conquered about 100 pages in the 800 page book I am reading. The time spent by myself I reflected on a lot about life and solidified my decision to come to Guatemala, knowing it was the correct choice. I was making friends here even if they were travelers themselves and I knew everything was going to pan out okay for me in Guatemala. Every so often a local would pass right through were I was sitting but for the most part I was the only one there.

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Guatemala-map

Guatemala, a place to live, travel, and work

Trevor No Comments

Guatemala, also known as the “land of many trees” named for its foresty landscape is the cultural hub and and the most visited country in Central America.  The official language is Spanish but being a country of Mayan descendants, there are also 21 dialects spoken throughout the country. The capital city is Guatemala City, a place tourists often choose not to visit, heading straight from the airport to the colonial city of Antigua.  At IBA, our internship program provides a great opportunity to live, work, and explore the capital city and also travel to top travel destinations such as Antigua, Tikal, Semuc Champey,  and Lake Atitlan.

IBA interns, Sarah Leib and Rob Dolot, have spent the last three months working at the IBA office in Guatemala City’s zone 4, in an area also known as 4° Norte (4° North), an upcoming trendy spot within the city, and also exploring the country.

 Antigua

Antigua was once the capital city of Guatemala. After being destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, it was preserved as ruins and Spanish colonial buildings, churches, and houses. It is one of the top tourist destinations of the country and a great place for dining, purchasing typical clothing and souvenirs, and exploring.

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shopping for local artesan goods at the market

 

Antigua 4

Just one of the many parks…

 Rooftop Views in Antigua

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Café Sky

 

Antigua 7

Jungle Party Hostal rooftop bar

Around the office, 4° Norte

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4° Norte has become an urban renewal project started by a group of entrepreneurs to make the area what it used to be, filled with nightlife; bars; restaurants; and music. The IBA office is located in the heart of the area in a building called the Campus Tecnológico. The area bustles during lunchtime with business people and food trucks on Thursdays, brought in by the municipality. On the weekends, the municipality also organizes a “flea market” where local artesans come together to sell their products.

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 In the office…

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Sarah and Rob became much more than interns to the company, they have become part of the team.  In addition to teaching local Guatemalans and online clients in Germany business English, they also became managers of their own projects within the company.

 

Ciudad 2

Campus Tecnológico, IBA Office Building

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Coffee break at the local café Rojocerezo Coffee

 

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International Business Academy of Guatemala is an organization that is dedicated to the constant improvement of its shareholders, customers, and its workers. Each person here has a genuine passion for learning and the office environment is one that promotes self-learning and rewards creativity.  Personally, the Professional Development Training I have received though International Business Academy has been a tremendous experience and has given me some great ideas that I will apply to any career path I pursue. Overall, I would highly recommend this internship program to anyone who wants to gain valuable international business experience in a friendly atmosphere that fosters growth.

Oh, and the food here is incredible!

– Rob Dolot

My time working with the International Business Academy has been remarkable. The IBA team immediately welcomed me in as their own and helped me comfortably immerse myself into the culture and country of Guatemala. My work days fly by because I always have work to do,the work environment is comfortable, and my co-workers are fantastic. Additionally, the housing arrangements they set up for the interns is great. The family has been very welcoming and accommodating.

Overall, I’d highly suggest this program to those who are interested in an innovative international internship experience! This has definitely been a great resume builder, I am proud to say I work there and overall have enjoyed my time with the IBA!

– Sarah Leib

Want to learn more about the IBA internship program? Check our the Careers section of our website!

Sources: mwengo   lonely planet  THE TICO TIMES

Photography by: Rita Flores

 

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