International corporate travel isn’t regarded as the cheapest business activity on the calendar. With flights, visas, accommodation, transportation and food rounding out the bare necessities of any business trip, costs can begin to stack up before travelling employees even use any kind of social allowance.

But what about those cities that demand even bigger budgets?

Here are six of the most expensive cities in the world for business travellers, with some usual suspects and some interesting surprises:


1. Vienna, Austria

Austria’s historic capital, Vienna, is widely regarded as one of the world’s best places to live. In fact, it has consistently taken top spot in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey.

Excellent healthcare, infrastructure, political stability and low crime levels all contribute to Vienna’s desirable status, but these pillars of society don’t come without cost.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, Austria ranks as the 10th most expensive countries for international visitors. The Report details the average cost of accommodation, airport charges, fuel prices and flight ticket taxes.

While Vienna is famed for its exceptional coffee, your pre-meeting fix will cost roughly 20% more than it would even in Sydney.

What opportunities does Vienna hold for corporate travellers?

Businesses in the United States have recognised the appeal of a stable, geographically beneficial European base in Vienna. The Austrian government has moved to encourage foreign business by dissolving trade barriers, and presently around 350 U.S firms have subsidiaries, affiliates, franchisees and licenses in Austria.



2. Oslo, Norway

Like Vienna, Norway’s capital Oslo has enjoyed positive standings in Mercer’s annual Quality of Living Survey. Yet also like Vienna, it ranks as one of the world’s most expensive cities for international visitors.

Oslo is currently Europe’s fastest growing capital city, and has been a hub for start-up businesses in recent years. It’s modern approach to work/life balance and superb infrastructure make it an attractive prospect for international businesses looking to expand into European markets.

According to The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Report, Norway’s Business Environment ranked 13th out of 141 countries.

A country’s Business Environment ranking is judged by metrics including its human resources and labour market, its international openness and information and communications technologies readiness.

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So it’s clear that opportunities abound for corporate travellers visiting Oslo, however the city can hurt the hip pocket on several fronts. The same Report ranked Norway as the 5th most expensive country in the world, with staples like accommodation, food and transport costing as much as 275% more than in Australia.



3. Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv is regarded as one of the best, if not the best markets for start-up technology companies in the world. In fact, Israel has declared itself the “start-up nation” and says that technology is its prime export.

Microsoft, Google, IBM, Apple and Intel all have second homes in Tel Aviv. According to local tech news source, No Camels, Intel Israel is responsible for almost one tenth of the country’s overall exports.

Google’s expansive Tel Aviv offices, taking up 11 floors of the Electra Building, and Apple’s newly-opened headquarters set the tone of enthusiastic international business in Israel. 

However, you guessed it, the city isn’t cheap for corporate travellers.

The World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 ranks Israel as the 6th most expensive city for international visitors, with food prices being a main offender. 



4. San Francisco, USA

The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported on the booming popularity of San Francisco for Australian technology companies entering U.S markets. It cited the resumed non-stop flight offered by national airline carrier Qantas, and San Francisco’s thriving tech landscape as drivers of this popularity.

However, breaking into the market doesn’t come cheap for corporate visitors. Business Travel News ranked San Francisco as the most expensive U.S city for business travellers in their Corporate Travel Index.

Travel managers, brace yourselves.

According to the BTN report the average daily budget breakdown for the essentials in San Francisco looks like this:

  • Hotel - $370.78
  • Car - $56.01
  • Food - $120.55
  • Total Essentials - $547.34USD


5. London, UK

Like Tel Aviv, London boasts some of the fastest-growing modern businesses in the world, often centred near the affectionately named “Silicon Roundabout.” In fact, 72 of the companies ranked in last year’s Inc. 5000 Europe list called London home.

However, the Business Travel News Report placed London as the most expensive city for business travellers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with a daily spend on essentials also topping $500USD.

Businesses sending their employees to London can’t afford to be relaxed with their corporate travel policy.

Thankfully, there are simple and effective ways CFOs and travel managers can reduce team travel spend and facilitate a productive trip. 



6. Caracas, Venezuela

The likes of San Francisco, London, Oslo and Tel Aviv may be usual suspects in discussions of expensive corporate travel. Venezuela’s capital, Caracas on the other hand, may not come to mind.

However, the South American city ranks as the most expensive for visiting business people.

Venezuela is the UK’s fifth largest trade partner in Latin America and the Caribbean, and boasts the world’s largest proven oil reserves. It’s sky-high living costs are largely put down to spiralling inflation and soaring prices of consumer goods.

Caracas doesn’t only represent a city that demands tight budget control for international business visitors, it presents a host of employee safety concerns for travel managers.

Is your business spending too much on corporate travel? Calculate your potential savings using our Travel Savings Calculator below:

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