Amsterdam is one of the leading centers of industry in Europe and is home to a number of the world's largest companies. The city gets hundreds of thousands of business travelers each year, not to mention the many tourists who visit the city's cultural centers.
If you're on a business trip to Amsterdam, you're in for a treat. Getting around the city is highly efficient and many of the locals speak English. With these tips, you should have no trouble at all finding your way around this beautiful European city.
Getting to Amsterdam
The main international airport in Amsterdam is known as Airport Schiphol (code: AMS) and it features a number of modern amenities that any business traveler will appreciate. Though some U.S. airports offer direct flights to Amsterdam, many fliers will travel through London's Heathrow airport on their way to the capital of the Netherlands.
Busy business travelers will find just about everything they need for a successful trip within the confines of Schiphol. According to the airport's official website, the facility features free high-speed wifi, a visitor center, full pharmacy, printing services, VAT tax reimbursement center, massage parlours and a number of restaurants.
Getting to your meetings on time
After you arrive at the airport, it's easy to get to your important meetings on time. In addition to public transportation offerings such as the Dutch rail network and local buses, you can rent a car or catch a taxi. The Schiphol website notes that many of the drivers are fluent in English. If you want to try out your Dutch, look for taxi stands labeled with the word taxistandplaats.
Note that a legal taxi will have a blue license plate. If your car has another color, it's likely illegal and could be dangerous. Business travelers should stick to legal cabs only.
Business culture in the Netherlands
According to the travel experts at Expatica, Dutch business culture tends to be more egalitarian than that of the U.S. Indeed, American business travelers may be surprised by the horizontal structure of Dutch businesses. In the Netherlands, employees are expected to take initiative on their own, not wait for a superior to lead the way.
In business meetings, a firm handshake is the typical greeting, though travelers shouldn't be surprised if they receive a kiss on either cheek. During negotiations, small talk is kept to a minimum and everyone is very aware of the time. Tardiness is generally frowned upon.
According to the source, business lunches are a relatively new, but growing, phenomenon in Dutch culture. If it does happen, business will likely remain the main topic of conversation. Family, hobbies and sports tend to be good topics for small talk.
When addressing business concerns, keep the conversation focused and pointed. Try to be as efficient as possible. Once you've wrapped up negotiations, there will be plenty of time to explore the many wonderful cultural exhibits around the city.