I am currently on a business trip overseas in our South East Asia (VN) branch, to meet and have a meeting the founder of Company A. The founder has just emailed me:

Dear 3kstc,

Are you still here until Friday this week? What is a good time to catch up with each other?

I still work during the day in our SE Asia branch, and the only free times I have is after 5pm-6pm. To be honest - I rather sight see by myself (since I am here, and the opportunity is here) then have a beer and typical business conversation with someone else. I fly out Saturday back home.

TL;DR / Q: How could I amicably reply to the above email and say "I'll pass thanks" without offending them or sounding rude (since SE Asian demographic are easily offended)

I leave on Saturday - so I'll have to make something up for the next 3 nights,

Dear Founder,

The next couple of evenings are looking a bit difficult for me. Thursday night there is a high possibility of having dinner with my work colleagues, and on Friday I'll be souvenir shopping and packing up before I fly out on Saturday

^ I need to find something for Wednesday... or I am open to suggestions/imporvements.

Addendum/Clarification: I have met with the Founder in the first week of my trip, it was fairly a formal meeting. So the purpose/goal of my trip has been completed. Follow up emails, minutes, etc. were all exchanged during my first week. This email is just for (I assume) pleasure - nothing more.

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    My advice to you that you take Founder with you sight seeing or for beer. The Founder wanting to meet you is wanting to recap that meeting an/or make an informal business proposal. It's not "catch up" time, it's all business. – workoverflow Jan 9 '18 at 10:05
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    Cant you do this catchup meeting during works hours or goto lunch with them - your not coming over very well here – Neuromancer Jan 9 '18 at 12:53
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    Customer relationships are not about a single scheduled meeting, it is about ongoing conversations formal and informal. If your role is to interact with client leadership, that is part of the job. – cdkMoose Jan 9 '18 at 17:32
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    How often to you travel to see the founder in person? If it's fairly infrequent, I would say it's probably better to socialize with them. You don't want to miss the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them if it's not something you get a chance at very often. – David K Jan 9 '18 at 18:18
  • Being naive sucks. Started losing [alot of] sleep over this, any helpers? – 3kstc Jan 11 '18 at 1:36

Be straight forward about your available time slots and state what's available rather than making excuses for when you're not.

I don't think it's a good idea to say that you're "buying souvenirs" as this sends the message that you buying gifts for your friends/family is more important than a business meeting.

If you really don't want to meet, then simply state that you're fully committed during your trip and apologise for not have any free period in which to meet.

  • So maybe Dear Founder, I'm free for a beer or two Friday evening? – 3kstc Jan 9 '18 at 8:03
  • Or if you really don't want to meet, simply state that you're fully committed during your current trip and maybe catch up at a later date. – user44108 Jan 9 '18 at 8:13
  • I'm not really keen - how would I say it though? Dear Founder, I'm fully committed over the next 2-3 nights before I fly out. – 3kstc Jan 9 '18 at 8:31
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    For what it's worth; sightseeing and buying gifts for friends is more important than business to many people, but don't tell your business partners that ;) – Erik Jan 9 '18 at 8:56
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    "Fully committed" sounds strange to me. I would more likely say "I already have plans" – David K Jan 9 '18 at 13:09

From @Snow's comments, I think the best amicable response would be the following:

Mr. Founder,

I'm fully committed over the next 2-3 nights before I fly out, but would love to catch up on my next visit.

With Kindest Regards,


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    "Fully committed" sounds strange to me. I would more likely say "I already have plans" – David K Jan 9 '18 at 13:14

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