Guide to Business Travel Etiquette – United Kingdom |

About the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is located in Western Europe, northwest of France between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It is not very large, about the size of Oregon and is home to over 60 million people.

The UK is made up of four distinct regions – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, making it very culturally and ethnically diverse. It may seem that everyone in the UK could be called English, but many people in the UK, especially those in Wales and Scotland may be offended by this. The term “English” refers to natives of England and “British” to citizens of Great Britain.


The majority of people in the UK speak English, but many areas have strong local accents and even dialects which may be difficult to understand. In Wales, Welsh is the language of choice – a Celtic language similar to Gaelic. Welsh is also spoken in some areas of Scotland.

Business Dress

Business dress in the UK is very conservative – dark colors, such as black, navy blue and charcoal are very popular as are heavier fabrics such as wool.

Tips for Men

o Avoid dress shirts with pockets and if they do have pockets, they should be kept empty. The only exception to this is a handkerchief.

o Ties with stripes should not be worn as the pattern may “belong” to a club, military regiment or school of which you are not a member.

o Wear shoes that lace, not those that slip on such as loafers.

Tips for Women

Business dress for women in the UK is not as limited as men’s but a conservative appearance is still important.

Business Hours

Most offices in the UK are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, most employees work longer hours as they prefer to complete their work at the office instead of bringing it home.

Government offices are open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm and are closed for lunch from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

The best time of day to make an appointment is in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Breakfast and lunch meetings tend to be rare – outside of major cities.


The UK has only eight national holidays a year, the lowest number in Europe. Most families with children will take annual vacations in July or August and the majority of businesses are closed between Christmas and New Years.

Conversations and Behavior

Many people in the UK are private and reserved – finding it difficult to engage in small talk with strangers. Beginning a meeting with a handshake is customary and a formal greeting is viewed as a sign of respect.

The English have very good manners and they view Americans as too casual, especially in speech. Be sure to speak clearly, in complete sentences and keep your speech at an even tone. Avoid animated conversations and a lot of hand gestures.

Business Travel Advice |

How to make the most of business travel

To some, the idea of traveling to Los Angeles one weekend and Bangkok the next for business sounds exciting and exotic. However, 2 a.m. red-eye flights, expense account over-eating, short weekends and most importantly the time spent away from families can get old quickly.

Business trips are an important part of many careers and are inevitable. Business travel shouldn’t be seen as a chore; it allows you the opportunity to travel to places you might not normally visit and to do so practically for free – so why not make the most of it?

There are several ways to enjoy your business trips. First, consider bringing along spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, children or the entire family and extending your business trip to include fun vacation time. The flight and hotel are already paid, the only extra costs that would incur would be airline tickets for anyone coming along and the cost for the extra days spent away. Many hotels don’t even charge extra for children. However, before taking along other people on business, especially children, make sure first that it is okay with the boss. Second, make sure you’ll have time to spend with anyone traveling with you and that not all your time will be spent in meetings.

The truth is, the more you enjoy business travel – the more relaxed you’ll be for any meetings or presentations. In fact, your company may even see this as a good thing.They realize business trips aren’t always fun, therefore the more you enjoy going on them, the more willing you will be to go on more in the future. Also, if you travel often to one destination for business, the more sightseeing you do within the city, the more familiar you’ll be with the location making it easier to relate and talk with local executives.

If extending the trip or bringing along family isn’t an option, there are other ways to make business travel more fun and less of a chore. First of all, visit the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Web site for the city you will be traveling to on business. The Web sites give tons of information on the sightseeing opportunities and often will have sample travel itineraries. Also, greeter programs are popping up in many major cities like Chicago and New York. A greeter program allows you to be paired up with a local, bilingual tour guide who can show you around the city. The perks of greeter programs are that they can be arranged at whatever time works for you and they oftentimes are free.

Hotel concierges are extremely familiar with the city within which they work and the immediate area by the hotel. Whether you have a free afternoon, an hour to spare, or are just looking for somewhere to eat, the hotel concierge can inform you of many fun, local activities to partake in.

Last, you don’t have to limit your business travel fun to just simple sightseeing. Try taking a cooking class one evening or do something daring like skydiving or swimming with the sharks. The options are limitless.