Vacation Tips » Business Travel to Mexico


Many people just think of visiting Mexico for vacationing but Mexico is so much more than parties and drinking. Mexico is raising fast to new heights in the business market. Thanks to President Fox and his many new accomplishments. New technology arriving daily along with many American businesses stretching down into Mexico. With all the new companies arriving there is going to be a need for travel and knowledge of the language, customs, traditions and manners of the people in Mexico.

First of all a good education in Spanish is a must if you want to be a professional and be more respected. It is much easier for someone to understand what you are saying in their own language even though they may know English well themselves if Spanish is their first language. Second, you must have an understand of what the working hours are in Mexico. Some places will differ but I am going by the general rule for office hours for business, government offices, banks and shops. In tourist towns such a Cancun and Acapulco times may vary. Remember to bring a photo ID such as a passport with you if you want to cash traveler checks at a bank. Also the 1st and the 15th of each month is payday in most towns so expect a long line around these times at the bank and on Saturdays. 

* Government Offices- Monday thru Friday daily 8am to 2:30pm. 
* Businesses- Monday thru Friday 9am to 6pm (closed during lunch 1 hr or more) 
* Shops- Monday thru Saturday 8am to 9pm (some Sundays open) 
* Banks- Monday thru Saturday 9am to 2pm and Saturdays till 2pm with limited services. 

When you arrive in Mexico you may get your permission/visa stamped for a longer period of time if you show you have a letter of business with you. Especially if you are a doctor. When arriving and you are doing business with professionals be sure to stay in a nice hotel, it is impressing to the Mexican people. Anticipate several trips to Mexico getting to know your business associates. The first trip is to get to know your associates and there will be many questions asked about your family, career, position. Mexican people want to establish a personal relationship with you before they will do business. They want to see what kind of person you are. You will be asked questions that you think are not relevant to your trip but answer all without being judgmental. Before you arrive though you should have had already written a letter of introduction preferably in Spanish. If you do not speak Spanish and had it written for you let them know that you do not speak it well or not at all. Make your first contact with the head person of the company and hopefully you have a contact person that can help you out. Make all your appointments within two weeks of arrival. Sometime plans are canceled so be prepared for anything to happen and do not get irritated. 

After you have made contact let the head person make plans on where you are to meet. This may include breakfast, lunch or dinner for the place of meeting. Do not drink no alcohol until your associate initiates it first. Try to dine at nicer restaurants when meeting they will notice everything about you and you want to make the best impression. 

This includes the way you dress. Arrive early well groomed, clothes pressed and clean. Men should wear a dark suit, tie and dark shoes. Ladies should wear a appropriate dress and shoes with a stylish hair do, jewelry and light on the make up and perfume. If you are there on vacation and have brought your family, dine in a private area if they meet you at your hotel. 

If you are making your appointments in the morning do not expect anyone to arrive before 10am and 1pm. Two o’clock is the best time to meet. You can expect to have business meetings at night 8:30pm. This is not uncommon and shouldn’t be frowned upon and executives and managers do not work on Saturdays or Sundays, though many factories are open on Saturday all day or half a day. You want to use a persons title when you talk with them even though some of their associates may not. Do not call them by their first name until they say it is okay to do so. When speaking with associates make sure you do not talk about political situations, religion, illegal aliens, Mexican-American war or any other history that may cause someone to frown at you. Nor compare your country with theirs in a derogatory way. 

If you believe you will have problems speaking Spanish to your associates and you need an interpreter you may write or call your countries Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City to arrange an interpreter. 

Be sure when meeting your associates that you respect there authority and rank. Mexican managers receive respect because of their position, age and influence. Being related to someone who works there is a big advantage for you if you are not you will be at a disadvantage. If your associate is late do not show you are irritated, bring a book if he/she is running late. Remember if you are female and you are meeting with a male associate you will also be at a disadvantage. If you are a woman make sure your speech is diplomatic and tactful, be professional in the best way you know how. Do not give into intimidation either. You will rarely find a woman in a high position in Mexico. It is just how it is in Mexico. It is changing slowing in this regard but in the meantime you must be respectful of their culture. 

When exchanging business cards have some printed up in Spanish. It looks more professional. Have printed on the business card your business degree, position, company, email address, phone number and name. You may also hand him/her one in English. Remember once you have made a sale you are to give that person the most highest respect and you must show it at all times, even if you are meeting years later, at a social party or on the streets. 

If you are bringing printed material down make sure it is in Spanish also. Not everyone knows English at the same level. And it shows that you have gone out of your way to do so. Use charts, diagrams, catalogs, outlines and computer knowledge in English and Spanish. Mexico businessmen like short range goals if you are making a presentation that is going to require a lot of money and time they may not be interested. Make sure you do your homework on the company and who runs it. It would be a good idea to know someone personally who know s "who" in the company. Never become arguementive when you are negotiating a deal. Be patient. Mexican people like to talk things over in a slow manner respecting everyone’s input. This may stretch out over a few days or weeks. If you need an answer in a month tell them you need it in two weeks. Because "time" runs differently with Mexican people than it does with North Americans. 

Business Gifts 

I have just covered some of the basics when dealing with Mexican people in a business setting. There is much more but this should give you a good idea on how it works. Always remember when visiting on a business trip it is a good idea to have a business gift. Some ideas for that is: 

* A clock for the office 
* Gold plated pens/lighters 
* Calculators 
* Picture frames 
* Scotch 
* Arts/books 

If you have made a second trip and have become acquainted well with the family then you may bring a present for his wife/husband or children and say it is from your family. Never give gifts of silver it is a tourist thing and would not be considered a cheap gift. 
Gifts for the family would be: 

* Electronics 
* Designer shirts with logo 
* Perfume 
* Toys (for children) 
* CD’s 
* Baseball hat 
* Candy 

Business Entertaining 

I would consider business entertaining just as important as any other business occasion. This is a more relaxing way to get to know your associate/family. You may bring along your spouse if you wish. Children are even welcomed at times. Ask your associate if his/her family is coming so you can prepare. You can entertain in your home/hotel or meet at a nice restaurant. If you are meeting at a restaurant you may want to do this earlier because dinner usually doesn’t start until 9pm. A good time to meet at a restaurant would be earlier in the day either for breakfast or lunch. Remember their breakfast isn’t until 10am and lunch around 2 or 3pm. Do not be drinking any alcohol until your associates do so first. Do not arrive like you have already been drinking also. Entertain Mexican people in the best restaurants, offer them three restaurants and let them to choose. In Mexico, when a person brings their family and you have invited them, you are expected to pay for the whole family no matter how many they have brought. So, if you have a celebration and you invited the family and he/she brings mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, children, aunts, uncles be prepared to pay for the whole family. Be careful how you say things. If you just wanted to invite his/her spouse and that’s all make sure you say that, be direct. 

If you are meeting them in their home arrange for flowers to be delivered ahead of time to that family’s home. Make sure they are delivered on time before you arrive. If they have children make sure to bring a gift for them to, something small will do. This is very important to remember, if you see something in your guests home and you openly admire it to them, they will think that you want it and will try to give it to you when you where just admiring it. Even saying something is very pretty they will feel impelled to give it to you so watch what you say to them. 

If you are single man or woman do not invite the spouse of your associates along unless their own spouse has already done so. That would be very rude and offending to some Mexicans. It is okay to be friendly but not overly friendly if you know what I mean. Do not ask questions about your associates spouse it is rude especially with her/him not being present. In fact do not ask too many questions let them do the talking. Just remember to be respectful and kind, manners are a always first. Hold doors open to women and let them have the seat/chair first. It is rude for a man to be sitting and a woman to have to stand in his presence. 

Also, if you are invited into their home come on a empty stomach but do not eat too much, the children and women are always served first, then the men. But you may be served first because you are the guest. This custom my differ from state to state in Mexico. Some even pray before their meal so do not act surprised and you may be asked to say the prayer so be prepared. If your host serves a food that isn’t to your liking it would be an insult to not eat it. Do not look at the food like it is from another planet, most of the time your host will serve something that you are more use to. Do not be shocked if your host has servants, this is common in Mexico. Watch how the family treats their servants and do the same. If you want to tip the maid/servant do so privately because the host will insist that you do not. Last but least, always thank the family for their hospitality. 

Later follow up with them in a letter or a phone call and keep in touch to form a lasting relationship with them. 

Article provided by Sheri C. - Gracias!