Travel is one of the most valuable educational experiences that a person can have in their life. We see it rise in popularity among families, colleges and even government jobs. Why then, do we not see a rise in popularity among companies around the world? The biggest thing holding people back from experiences that could enrich their professional life is fear of the unknown. What will happen if I bring up the idea of a destination training to my boss? How will the board of trustees react? What will the HR department say? All of these questions can hold people back from an experience which can maximize educational value while giving the company something to talk about at the annual shareholder meeting.
The first thing that you need to understand is that cultural conflict is one of the biggest costs globally around the world. Most people do not understand that annually, intercultural conflicts can cost up to $13 Trillion US. This means that there is a cost of about $2,000 for every man, woman, and child on the planet. Since most of the intercultural conflict occurs with the people who do the most intercultural activities, businesses, it stands to reason that businesses lose the most money on conflict each year. One of the best reasons to take a destination trip to learn about intercultural conflict is because each conflict you avoid, based on culture, can be millions that your company saves in lawsuits each year.
One of the greatest things about destination training is that companies can use them as edu-vacations. Employees love them because modern companies allow employees to bring their families with them. If the education portion is scheduled for one hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon or evening, this allows for employees to spend time with their families and still get 15 hours of training during the week. When you augment this with about 10 hours of training that they can listen to on the bus/plane ride, then you have a full 20-hour training and employees get some R&R. It is a win/win. With consultants who come into your business costing up to $200,000, you can send 20 employees on excellent intercultural experiences for the same amount. This means you can send your team around the world for less than you can bring a “professional” consultant in, who just tells your group what they think they should know instead of showing them what happens in the real world.
One of the key factors in intercultural training, the best training for international edu-vacations, is making sure that you find a reputable provider. By and large, conflict resolution company provide the best training in this area because that is what they do. Often you will find that consultants spend their time teaching employees stereotypes that most people think about certain cultures. This is the worst foundation for an intercultural class because it leads to poor expectations. Classes should be built on a foundation that all conflict is based in a need/want model, which results in need-based disputes and want based disputes. Culture is a human construct which does not transcend these imperatives. This means that if you are teaching people “how to deal with a specific culture” you are just teaching institutional racism. Take the time to find a provider who will teach you the conflict model and you can help people regardless of their cultural background.
A good program balances education, fun, and safety. This is one of the key things that you need to look for on these trips. Being in a new place opens up the mind, it is a biological fact. This means that your employees are more receptive to what they are learning, and they will relate these new facts to memories that are good, which will increase retention. While it may seem like destination education trips would be more expensive, the “home visit” consultants can far outstrip the cost of an edu-vacation. Factor in that edu-vacations have a higher level of service and you have an excellent case for why your company should do one.
About the Author
Dr. Smithmyer is the Vice President of International Affairs for Brāv Online Conflict Management, an international consortium of conflict resolution professionals. Dr. Smithmyer is also a columnist for NRN doing mostly political and international business columns. When Dr. Smithmyer is not working with people to make the world a better place, he enjoys snorkeling the waters of the world.
Dr. Smithmyer has traveled extensively in the United States, Australia, Vietnam, and the Bahamas. He has also presented in the U.K., India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Smithmyer is one of the most lettered men in the world with nine degrees. As an adjunct professor in his spare time, Dr. Smithmyer uses his business experience and travels to help bring the world to his students and even brings the students to the world through experiential learning trips.
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