Business trips are continuing to decline worldwide, a result of today’s economic climate. But Brazil is one country that is still warranting international investment. While its economy (like many others) has contracted severely, the future of Latin America?s largest economy looks a bit brighter, as it’s important agricultural and energy sectors continue to perform somewhat strongly. Brazil’s credit industry is also in much better shape. Its financial institutions have been traditionally subjected to high taxes and government involvement. While this has restricted growth during boom times, it also discouraged banks from making the risky financial decisions that have wrecked havoc among other markets.
Brazil’s status as a trade show hub and the preference of its businessmen to meet partners face-to-face means that companies who choose to invest there will likely have to fly down at least once, and often multiple times. If you find yourself among one of these trips, here are some tips that should hopefully help you out.
It is very easy to travel to Brazil via air, as most major airlines offer direct service to its major cities. Its two largest metropolitan areas, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, have two airports each and there are also some nonstop flights from the United States and Europe to smaller cities such as Recife, Porto Alegre, and Manaus, although these are less frequent.
Flying is also the best method of transportation if you have to travel from one city to another, although it is also the most expensive. But you can easily set up an international bank transfer so that you are not stranded and penny less. Brazil’s domestic airlines are safe and reliable, and road travel can be dangerous on certain routes. And although the planes are smaller, there should be ample room for your briefcase and luggage!
Travelling within the cities themselves is best done via taxi. This is especially true in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, both of which are cities that are spread out and lack a subway system. Out of any American city, they most closely resemble Los Angeles in terms of city layout and transportation, so it is best to plan and travel relative to location. Renting a car is usually not a good idea, as it not as cost effective as renting a taxi and can lead to too many travelling complications. If you do decide to rent however, it is important to note that nearly all rental cars have manual rather than automatic transmission. And make sure to take out a rental insurance as well- you never be too safe!
Many people tend to lump in Brazil with the rest of Latin America in assuming that the overall business culture is more relaxed, with daily siestas. This however, is usually not the case. While some of the more provincial cities might be more casual, especially when it comes to punctuality, the major cities, and Sao Paulo in particular, tend to follow the same business procedures and schedules that Americans are used to. And while dress codes may be more informal in some cases, most executives tend to sport the same conservative suits that most American and European businessmen wear.
There are some differences when it comes to dealing with Brazilian business partners. Like other South Americans, Brazilians value small talk as a way of getting to know potential business partners, so it is important to strike a casual, yet informative tone with any meetings. Jumping right into the agenda will appear inappropriate. And because they prefer to first build a personal relationship before a professional one, it may take some time before any big decisions are made on their end, so it is important to be patient.
Most meetings will take place in English, but if you happen to have any knowledge of Portuguese, don?t be afraid to show it off, even if you don?t speak it very well. Your hosts will undoubtedly appreciate the effort.
Food and Dining
During any travel experience, the dining options are important as well. Fortunately in Brazil, you should have no problems eating well!
When it comes to dining choices, the options are remarkably varied in Brazil, especially in Sao Paulo, where you can find nearly any type of ethnic food possible. If you’re like me though, you prefer to go local.
Brazilian cuisine has a lot of similarities with that of Portugal, its colonial occupants. In fact its national dish,feijoada, was introduced by the Portuguese. What this primarily means is that most dishes emphasize either seafood or beef, and may include legumes and sausages. There are also a number of other influences as well, and this is something that can vary by region. Northern provinces tend to reflect some of the same traits as Caribbean cuisine and also include many recipes and stews brought over to Brazil by African slaves. Southern cuisine is heavily influenced by the Argentinean gaucho culture and tends to be protein-heavy; churrasco, Brazil?s answer to the American barbeque, comes from this region.
Brazil also has a lot of beverage options as well. Any coffee and juices tend to be of a high quality, given that most of the ingredients do not have to be transported far. Brazil has also become known in recent years for producing quality beer and wine. The country?s most popular cocktail, the caiprinha, has also becomes well known recently as well, as people worldwide have begun to enjoy the mixture of sugar cane liqueur, limes, sugar water, and ice. You should probably stay away from drinking these before a meeting however!
These are just a few pointers toward travelling in Brazil. By following these guidelines, asking your hosts for advice, and being cautious, you should have no problems in making the best of your trip down south!