How to survive the world’s most innovative business cities

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Everything you need for a business trip to New York, London, Tokyo and San Francisco

If you've read our article about the world's most innovative business cities, you already know there are lots of reasons to visit them. Maybe you're flying out to open a new office, or perhaps you only have a couple of meetings – whatever the case, we're going to help you turn your next trip into the best one yet.

Let us run you through everything you need to know about these cities to get the most out of a business trip to them.


New York City

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The city that never sleeps will never cease to amaze even its most seasoned visitor. As the definitive business capital of the United States, there's no shortage of reasons to travel there.

Getting around

As one of only a few American cities, New York actually has a stellar public transport system – for only $2.75, the MTA network of subways and buses can take you anywhere. So will the famous yellow cabs or an on-demand ride service like Lyft or Uber, but it won't just cost you a pretty penny – the ride will take much longer, too.

For a city as sprawling as NYC, it's surprisingly easy to get around by bike, which makes renting a Citi Bike a great alternative – weather permitting.

Where to stay

As a general rule of thumb, the further you are from Manhattan, the less you'll pay per night. Chances are, however, that you'll need to be there anyway – most offices are located on the island. Luckily, AirBNB has offerings for (almost) every budget.

Some great neighborhoods to consider in Manhattan are Chelsea, East Village, Greenwich Village and otherwise anywhere south of 59th Street. In Brooklyn you should aim for Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights or DUMBO.

Only consider the other boroughs if you don't mind traveling for a long time to get anywhere.

Meeting and working

The Big Apple is the birthplace of WeWork, and their workspaces are littered around the city. Its flexible plans start at $45/month for a desk, free coffee and access to their meeting rooms.

Alternatively, there are tons of coffee shops where you can comfortably bring your laptop or host a meeting – most of them have Wi-Fi, plugs and dedicated tables for working. A few recommendations are Think Coffee, Toby's Estate Coffee and Little Skips.

 

Be a local

Never forget to leave a generous tip – wages are low, and workers often need the extra money to make ends meet. 15 to 20 percent is acceptable for average to good service, but consider leaving more for an exceptional experience.

Another thing to keep in mind is to always stay to the right side if you want to go slow — not just on the road, but also on escalators and sidewalks. It'll help you stay out of the way of stressed-out locals on their way to work.

 

London

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Gray skies might be its trademark, but there's no denying the importance of the British capital in Europe and the world – it's home to both established financial institutions and surging fintech startups.

Getting around

A ride on the London Underground isn't as cheap as in New York, but it's still affordable. It's important to note that the city is enormous, and getting around might take a long time – that's why taking a cab or Uber could shave off some time, at a cost. Renting a Santander Cycle for anything else than a short ride won't get you very far, however.

Where to stay

It bears repeating that London is a very large city, and your location should be carefully picked according to where you need to be most in the city – otherwise you'll take a long time to get anywhere. Some great neighborhoods to look out for are Soho, Shoreditch, Bloomsbury and South Kensington. If possible, try to stay close to Central London – you probably don't want to be in the suburbs.

Meeting and working

London has a host of great co-working spaces to work from like Fora, The Dock, Central Working and Vrumi. There are also some stellar coffee places that allow laptops, including The Riding House, Prufrock and Ty Coffee.

Another great spot is Google Campus, a free co-working space operated by the tech giant. With fast internet, affordable drinks and like-minded people, it's the perfect place for some (net)working.

 

 

Be a local

Punctuality is a big deal for any Londoner. When you have a meeting, just make sure you plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes beforehand. If you get stuck in traffic – and you will at some point – you'll still make it on time.

Finally, everyone will make this mistake at least once, but you should be prepared anyway – you need to look to the left when crossing the road. You'll see warnings for this all around the city at pretty much every crossing, but it won't hurt to keep it in mind.

 

Tokyo

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You won't forget the first time you set foot in this massive metropolis, but don’t be misled — behind the blistering neon lights lies a city that could be the perfect gateway to Asia for your company.

Getting around

Most people agree that Tokyo is one of the most livable cities in the world, and part of that is thanks to an amazing public transport system. It's fast, cheap and always on time – there's no reason not to use it. However, because of its quirky addressing, most streets in Tokyo don't have names. If you need to get somewhere fast and don't want to waste time getting directions from your phone, it's worth getting a cab or Uber.

Where to stay

Tokyo doesn't have a clearly defined city center – instead, it's spread out over multiple districts that all operate as their own community. Shinjuku is the de facto business hub, but it might be hard to find an affordable place there — however, if you're staying close enough to a metro station, you'll be fine. In general, you should try not to stray too far from Shinjuku, Shibuya and Minato – most other areas are very remote.

Meeting and working

Until recently, most public places didn't offer free Wi-Fi. While this has definitely changed, you could still end up somewhere without a connection, so make sure to check beforehand.

A few great places to work are Fuglen, Lattest and Streamer Coffee Company, all of which are laptop-friendly and serve great coffee.

If you end up somewhere without Wi-Fi right when you need it the most, don't fret — just look for a Starbucks. They're plentiful, which makes them the perfect backup plan.

Be a local

If you're coming to Tokyo for a meeting, it's important to realize that most Japanese people don't speak English on a professional level. It might be worth considering to hire an interpreter, but for a low-budget alternative the Google Translate app also does a decent job at real-time translation.

Something else to know is the very particular etiquette when exchanging business cards. As it's seen as a formal way of self-introduction there's a strict protocol to be followed, with all steps taking place in a specific order. Make sure to read up on it.

 

San Francisco

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The gate to Silicon Valley isn't just known for its year-round fog, it's also the beating heart of the global technology industry.

Getting around

While San Francisco is the smallest of all cities featured in this guide, moving around town can be complicated. Its public transport system, made up of buses, trams and a subway line, is often late and relatively uncomfortable. There's good reason why Lyft and Uber are so popular here, and it makes sense to follow the trend — it's a much more dependable ride.

The city's small footprint makes it easily walkable, but don't bother biking — one of its many hills tend to pop up when you least expect it.

Where to stay

If you're visiting to do business with one of the area's giants like Google, Apple or Facebook, don't make the mistake of booking a place in San Francisco — you would be far away from their offices in the Valley. Otherwise, it's hard to pick a bad location, but as most businesses are located around the Financial District and SoMa, it wouldn't hurt to look around there.

Meeting and working

Welcome to coworking heaven! This is where bringing your laptop to a coffee shop was invented, and there are lots of great spots to show for it —Arlequin, Mazarine Coffee or Ritual Coffee Roasters are all perfect options. If you need dedicated outlets and an environment that's purely focused on work, Workshop Cafe is the place you're looking for.

After being flooded with too many laptop-staring customers, some places have now actively banned computer usage. Wherever you go, make sure to first check if working is allowed.

Be a local

San Francisco has some incredible food, and it would be a waste if you didn't get a taste of it during your visit — so why not have a meeting over lunch or dinner? Check out this list from Foursquare to find a great place and treat both your business contact and yourself to an incredible meal.

And don't forget to try the Mexican food — outside of Mexico, it doesn't get better than here.

Happy Travelling,

Team Xpenditure.  

Tags: Corporate travel