To do business in Brazil, break down these 4 barriers

brazilblogDoing business in Brazil is BIG business! With a whopping 43% share of Latin America’s 225 million passengers boarded (PB) annually, the country is a leader in the region’s air transportation industry.

Amadeus has operated in Brazil for the past 20 years. With more than 120 people working from our São Paulo office, we understand the marketplace backwards and forwards. Our mission is to improve the travel experience for everyone, making it accessible to all.

Brazil’s large and complex geography, customs and culture often make it difficult for multinational companies to navigate the business climate. As Amadeus continues to grow our operations in Brazil, here are 4 barriers we continue to “break down” to make it easier to do business with our internal and external customers.

Language and communication

Brazil is the only Latin American country with Portuguese as its national language. (The majority of South American countries speak Spanish.) In addition to Portuguese, nearly every Amadeus employee in Brazil speaks English and Spanish as a second (or third) language. When communicating with our international colleagues and customers, English is our preferred business language. Yet rest assured: If someone needs to clarify a conversational point, we are always willing to “try again” in Spanish, Portuguese, or any another language. One way or another, we are committed to creating understanding by breaking down language barriers.

Operating practices

It may sound rhetorical, yet there is always something to be learned from every customer. Although we all work in the same business – and sometimes even on the same continent – the same solution applied in Chile or the US may not work seamlessly in Brazil without customization. National laws, state legislations, taxes, economic factors and disruptive market conditions are a constant in the global airline industry, and Brazil is no different. Our capacity to understand and help our customers make the best business decisions is Amadeus’ main asset as a regional team.

Time and commitment

It’s a fact that in Brazil, meetings may not begin on time. Arriving late does not mean a client is disinterested or does not want to work together. Tardiness cannot be misinterpreted as 100% impoliteness. In the airline business – and especially in Brazil – airline employees (including busy executives) are often required to do serious multitasking. While we all agree punctuality is critical to the smooth running of the airline business, it’s also important to extend grace from time to time, especially in Brazil, where “going with the flow” is still a part of our cultural DNA.

Trust and relationships

Relationships are based on trust, and building trust is necessary to operate successfully in different cultural contexts. As a technology provider in 190+ countries, Amadeus must strive for intelligent, win-win negotiations with customers everywhere. We must also make every effort to clearly understand an airline’s needs, ideas and points of view. Building trust is about being willing to share risks and opportunities. Doing something simple together – like hosting an improvised brainstorming session or “grabbing coffee” together goes a long way to let ideas flow, learn about each other, and build trust. Collaborating on joint projects is also a good way to build trust and confidence. So even if we, as colleagues, are geographically far away, we must still find ways to “stay close” in other ways.

Building bridges together

In my experience, I’ve discovered that the more I get to know someone, the stronger our relationship becomes. This requires a daily, conscious effort to break down personal and professional barriers based on culture, customs or expectations. The great Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his [own] language that goes to his heart.”

As members of the global Amadeus family, we are all connected through the language of our shared commitment to shape the future of travel. Here in Brazil, we are motivated by innovation, providing personalized support, and creating new opportunities to strengthen partnerships with new and future customers. As I see it, the joy is in the journey!




  1. so well written – and in my language 🙂

    Arenda, I smiled when I read the part about ‘on time’. having lived and worked in Germany, but with people from some parts of Asia and Africa, the results were always – let us say – interesting.

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