New York is the most popular business travel destination in the world.
If you find yourself going to the Big Apple for work, read our top tips to make the most out of your New York business trip.
Getting to New York from the Airport
It’s best to factor in how you plan to get into the city when making your choice of arrival airport. Unlike the UK, there’s not much of an integrated transport network in New York.
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
From JFK, yellow cab taxis are a flat $52 fare ($56.50 in peak hours) into Manhattan. The journey should take an hour, except during rush hour, when it can be double that time. Groups can pre-book limos or airport shuttles.
The AirTrain Subway option is cheap but entails a connection, a lot of stairs, and is probably not for first-timers.
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Newark airport in New Jersey is less hectic than JFK but further away and there is no flat fee for taxis, so expect to pay more than when travelling to/from JFK.
Newark is however connected to Manhattan’s Penn Station via the NJ Transit train. A brief ride from the terminal on the AirTrain connects you to the mainline Newark Liberty International Airport station. The fare is around $15.
One tip for your return journey is to consider a daytime flight back from either airport. These typically leave around 8am or 9am, allowing you to travel to the terminal against the rush hour flow. Daytime flights arrive in the UK at 9pm or 10pm, when immigration is quieter. More importantly, the timings mean jetlag is far less of an issue.
Getting Around New York
Manhattan’s grid pattern makes it easier to navigate than most big cities. Avenues run north-south and numbered streets run east-west, so telling a taxi driver “72nd and 5th Avenue” is like giving a map reference.
The Subway is more confusing than London’s Underground but has the same Oyster card-style system called Metrocard. There is no simple compass point direction system; trains usually use Manhattan as the reference point, so they are Uptown (north), Downtown or Bronx or Brooklyn-bound. We recommend downloading the New York Subway MTA Map app for your iPhone or Android device to help.
Where to Stay in New York
New York hotels offer poor value in comparison with almost every other major city and can be cramped and lacking in business facilities, so choose wisely.
Two new properties near to Penn Station open this summer.
Virgin Hotels makes its debut in New York, located on the northwest corner of 29th Street and Broadway in the heart of Manhattan. The 500-room glass tower offers a full range of business and meeting facilities.
Ritz-Carlton NoMad (North of Madison) opens nearby in June at Broadway and 28th with 250 rooms and the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge facilities.
Further down the price and client age bracket, Moxy Hotels will open properties on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (New York’s answer to London’s Shoreditch) later this year.
New Yorkers tend to arrive at work early, often having been to the gym first. Breakfast meetings are more normal than boozy dinners and drinks after work.
For business meetings, dress as smartly as you would in the UK, initially anyway. If your host is more casually dressed than you, take that as your guide for subsequent meetings.
The standard greeting of “How are you?” does not warrant a detailed reply, it’s an automatic phrase that merely needs a glib, positive response.
Swearing is usually frowned upon in professional circles, so if you really must, gauge the room. The same applies to voicing any controversial views.
Bleisure – Take time to see the sights of New York
First-timers will always want to see the icons, but some can be avoided – Times Square, for example, can resemble London’s Leicester Square on a bad Saturday night.
A good way to orientate yourself in any city is to go to a high point and New York now has several options, with Summit One Vanderbilt opening in 2021, joining Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building. Summit One is entered via Grand Central Station, which is worth visiting.
On the West Side at Hudson Yards, there is also the new 100-storey Edge Observation Deck. The High Line, an elevated former rail freight track, now a linear park, stretches there from Greenwich Village and is an excellent walk, particularly with a guide.
The Staten Island Ferry will also give great views of the city; take it at sunset if possible as the warm light will reflect off the skyscrapers. Another excellent view of Manhattan from the opposite side is from Brooklyn Bridge Park.
New York’s museums operate in a different manner to those in the UK. Many levy an entrance charge and offer only timed admission, so make sure you check out any you wish to visit in advance.
Do’s and Don’ts in New York
✔️ Visit Central Park if in town at weekends; all human life is there.
✔️ Take advantage of the lower sales tax – 5.5% compared to the UK’s 20%.
✔️ Book a guided walk; Free Tours By Foot is a pay-what-you-wish experience.
✔️ Use jetlag to your advantage, both for early breakfast meetings and seeing the city while it’s quieter.
❌ Make the mistake of under-tipping, it’s not taken kindly. In restaurants add 15-25%.
❌ Assume taxi drivers know where they’re going; they aren’t trained like in London. Always give a two-street reference – very often they won’t have even heard of your hotel.
❌ Be afraid of approaching people for directions or advice, New Yorkers are far more friendly than they are made out to be.