New York City consistently tops rankings as a popular business travel destination. It is home to the headquarters of many high-profile brands across various industries, and those who put in the effort to make the trip out will likely return to their cities rewarded with valuable connections and meaningful business opportunities.
However, the City That Never Sleeps can be an overwhelming experience unto itself, especially for a first-time business traveler. Here’s what you need to know before you pack your bags and go…
Know the airports
Three major airports provide access to the Big Apple. They each have their pros, cons, and quirks.
The biggest and busiest airport on this list is John F. Kennedy International Airport, more commonly known as JFK Airport, Kennedy, or simply JFK. It is located in Queens, a New York City borough about 16 miles out of Midtown Manhattan. JFK serves millions of passengers, many of whom are coming in or heading out on international flights. Over 90 airlines operate out of the airport, many of them serving routes to and from 5 inhabited continents. Given these numbers, the biggest struggle that a business traveler might face flying into JFK would be the airport’s much-derided immigration lines. Those coming in from overseas will most likely find themselves stuck for hours in a queue, so keep that in mind.
Next, there’s LaGuardia Airport, also located in Queens. Compared to JFK, LaGuardia sees a lower number of passengers: around 30.1 million to JFK’s 61.6 million in 2018. International flights must possess border preclearance to land in LaGuardia; the airport is mainly used for domestic flights instead. However, it is notorious for delays and cancellations, which can throw a wrench into the trip of a business traveler.
Finally, there’s Newark Liberty International Airport. Located in New York’s neighbor-state of New Jersey, it received over 46 million passengers in 2018 and serves 50 carriers. It may not be the most exciting airport out there, but its proximity to Manhattan and convenient access to public transport services make it an attractive choice for business travelers.
Being smart about where you fly into can save time and help increase your productivity in the city. It’s also a good idea to compare and contrast the many ways of getting out of the airport. NYC’s iconic taxi cabs serve all of the airports on this list, with fares going from anywhere between $25 and $75 outside of tolls and tip. Ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Lyft can be slightly cheaper, with public transportation as the most frugal option.
The value in choosing your accommodations wisely simply can’t be stated enough. Where you choose to stay can have a significant effect on your NYC business experience. There’s no shortage of lodging options all over the Big Apple; but as with all great cities, traffic is a major issue in the city, especially in the midtown area. Sudden road blockages are also common and can severely hamper your ability to get from Point A to Point B.
Midtown Manhattan is known as NYC’s largest central business district. Fortunately for business travelers, the neighborhood is very well-equipped for their needs. There’s a hotel for every budget and no shortage of function spaces, restaurants, or coffee shops. Expect to pay a premium for convenient access to where you need to be, but what you lose in money you’ll easily make up for in lack of frustration. A great mid-ranger in an unbeatable location is The Westgate New York. It’s a short walk away from iconic attractions in Midtown, such as Grand Central Terminal, the United Nations building, or Bryant Park.
Expect things to be more expensive
The Greatest City in the World also has a reputation for being The Most Expensive City in the World. New York City consistently tops rankings for cost of living. Prices for goods and services may be steeper than what you’re used to. You’ll often find coffee listed for between 3 and 5 dollars on a breakfast menu in a Manhattan restaurant compared to the 1 or 2 dollars it usually costs elsewhere in the United States.
According to an infographic from BBC GoodFood, the average cost of a neighborhood meal for two—sans alcohol—is 35 dollars. Business dinners can run you anywhere between 250 to 500 dollars, depending on the restaurant. New Yorkers expect a 20% tip on top of your meal or fare, preferably in cash, too. Consider these factors before you go and plan your budget accordingly.
While many would describe New York City as a difficult experience at worst, business travelers that make the effort to come out are often richly rewarded. With these tips and an open mind, you’ll surely have a productive, even enjoyable trip.