What makes a city a top-class business destination for business travelers? These are some of the world’s most important trading hubs. They offer excellent business facilities, great food and accommodation, and they are easy to reach by plane. Getting to know them early provides a big advantage in any serious international career.
Sometimes referred to as the capital of the world, New York City generates around $1.5tn a year. It offers direct flights right across North America and across most of Europe, while it’s just a single stopover away from most of South America, the Middle East and Africa.
It has numerous excellent hotels that specialize in accommodating business travelers. The availability of authentic food from all over the world, which comes thanks to the city’s many waves of immigration, makes it popular with visitors who appreciate a few home comforts. Lots of cafés and restaurants provide free Wi-Fi.
Many of the world’s biggest corporate players have their headquarters in Manhattan, and the subway makes it easy to get around. In addition, there are countless world-class cultural institutions on hand, so it’s an excellent place to hold an event or entertain important trading partners.
Despite suffering serious setbacks because of the 2011 tsunami, Tokyo pulls in around $1.5tn a year and remains one of the most important trading hubs in the East. One effect of its troubles has been that Western hotel chains have had a chance to move in, especially around Ginza, Nihonbashi and Marunouchi.
More adventurous travelers will find that there are also many excellent local hotels, and any place with Japanese staff will provide a level of service and attention to detail rarely seen elsewhere. It’s easy to get by in English, but there is an expectation that visitors will familiarize themselves with local business customs. These include bowing to show appreciation (always slightly lower if returning a bow) and getting tipsy at business dinners because the Japanese believe this indicates candor.
One of the financial capitals of Europe, London is a favorite among US travelers because there are no linguistic challenges to deal with and many have family histories there. It is well-connected, with direct fights available from four continents, and makes for the perfect gateway destination for a European business trip. There are lots of amazing cultural institutions within the city, making it great for entertaining or for hosting events.
The Tube system is by far the easiest way to get around, but there are also useful buses, and passes can be purchased. There are many hotels with great business facilities, but they can be expensive and it’s often more practical to rent an apartment to be close to key locations and have somewhere to hold relaxed one-on-one meetings. Meeting rooms are easy to rent by the hour, and there are plenty of places where one can print or photocopy documents or send faxes.
The most important trade hub in the Middle East, Dubai is a city where business people gather to talk about oil, solar energy, gas, gold, IT, banking and other related topics. It’s increasingly well connected internationally, and it is also growing quickly, with a focus on expanding its business facilities and world-class hotels as its economy diversifies.
A major effort has been made to make the city comfortable for Western visitors, and it now has excellent restaurants serving American-style food and even bars where drinking alcohol is allowed, although it is not a good idea to appear drunk outside of them. It’s easy to find people who speak English.
The main drawback is the heat, but as all cars and buildings are air conditioned, it’s only necessary to deal with this for brief periods. Strong business links to the US are making this a better place to center deals with Middle Eastern companies.
With a consistently strong economy that has weathered many storms, Germany is a big player in international trade, but its distributed approach to business can make it difficult to decide where to focus. Although Berlin and Munich are strong contenders, it’s actually Leipzig that has the best reputation for international business. Like all big German cities, it is easy to reach, with excellent transport links.
Its famous university contributes to its business ethos and has helped to make it an important center for finance, technology and engineering. Practically everyone speaks English. The hotel accommodation is good, although prices may be set to rise along with the city’s fortunes. There are lots of bars and cafés serving simple but delicious food and impressive local beers; many of them also offer free Wi-Fi.
The pace of business life here is fast, but the city has nevertheless retained a relaxed approach to daily life, giving it a distinctly civilized atmosphere that is unique in the business world.
The largest city in the world’s most populous country, Shanghai has spent the last few decades transforming itself into a world-class economic center and one of the most important business destinations in the East. It is now responsible for almost a third of China’s exports and 20 percent of its manufacturing. This has led to problems with smog, but it is working fast to become cleaner and greener, installing an underground system that is continually expanding and helping to reduce road traffic.
The government is building nine new towns around it to take the pressure off the residential population and make way for more inner-city hotels and business developments. After years of Communist rule, there is a real passion for entrepreneurship in this city. With vast numbers of talented people looking for opportunities, it is no surprise that it’s attracting corporate interest from all around the world.
In a world that is undergoing a period of economic realignment, these six cities are great places to trade today and look set to continue being great places to trade in the decades to come. Now is the time to get in on the ground floor!