Travel Conversation in Business English

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Travel is a big part of many business people's lives. This lesson will show students how to use travel-related vocabulary and conversations in business settings.

Time to Travel

When you travel on business, you have many things to think about. First of all, you need to book the details of your travel including flight, rental car and hotel. Second, you'll probably need to ask questions, make requests and sometimes complain when things don't go well. In each of these situations, it's important to use the appropriate travel conversation.

Think back to your previous business travel experiences. What types of situations did you experience? Did you ever want to ask a question or make a complaint, but you didn't know which words or phrases to use? This lesson will provide you with several business travel scenarios and some examples of vocabulary and phrases you can use in each.

Reservation Time

Making reservations is a key part of business travel. Fortunately, these days most reservations can be made online and without having to speak to another person. However, you may sometimes be in a situation in which you'll have to make reservations over the phone or face to face. In these situations it's important to speak clearly and it is perfectly acceptable to ask someone to repeat information if you are confused by what he or she said. It's better to ask someone to repeat something than to end up booking a reservation with the wrong travel information.

Read the following reservation situations and take note of the vocabulary the characters use to ask and answer questions depending on the situation.

Booking a Flight

Kelly has arrived at the airport and needs to book the next available flight to London.

  • Counter agent: How may I help you?
  • Kelly: Hi. I need a seat on the next available flight to London.
  • Counter agent: I'd be happy to help you with that. Which airline do you prefer?
  • Kelly: It doesn't matter. I just need to get to London as soon as possible.
  • Counter agent: Ok. Let me see. There's a flight to London leaving at 2:30 pm.
  • Kelly: That's perfect.
  • Counter agent: I'm afraid all of the coach seats are sold out. But there are a few business class seats available.
  • Kelly: That's fine.
  • Counter agent: Do you prefer a window or aisle seat?
  • Kelly: Aisle, please.
  • Counter agent: I'll need your passport, frequent flyer number and credit card, please.
  • Kelly: Here you are. Oh, is there a vegetarian meal option?
  • Counter agent: Yes.
  • Kelly: And is the plane equipped with Wi-Fi?
  • Counter agent: Yes. Here's your boarding pass. Please arrive at the gate at least 45 minutes prior to takeoff.

Booking a Hotel

While waiting at the gate for her flight to London, Kelly calls her favorite hotel to reserve a room.

  • Hotel agent: Hello. This is Jamie at the Best London Hotel.
  • Kelly: Hi. I need to book a room.
  • Hotel agent: Certainly. When will you be arriving?
  • Kelly: Tonight around 8 pm. I know it's short notice. I'll take any room you have.
  • Hotel agent: Let me check our availability. We do have a single room available tonight. How many nights will you be staying with us?
  • Kelly: Three nights.
  • Hotel agent: Very good. Have you stayed with us before?
  • Kelly: Yes, many times.
  • Hotel agent: I'll need a few details from you and then we can get your room booked.

Making Requests and Complaints

You will need to ask many questions when traveling. Sometimes you need to get directions or request certain services. When you ask for a service, be sure to be polite by using words such as 'please' and 'thank you.' People are usually more willing to be helpful if they are treated politely and with respect.

Similarly, when you need to make a complaint, be firm but respectful. Try not to raise your voice and resort to abusive language. Everyone makes mistakes so if you do need to complain, state your complaint clearly. You can also suggest a solution that will make you happy.

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