Swiss Business Etiquette
Swiss culture and business etiquette go hand in hand. Here are some rules that business travellers should take into account in order to succeed.
When travelling for business purposes, it is of the utmost importance to leave a good impression upon your colleagues and clients, and knowing the correct manner in which to conduct business is crucial to achieve this. We advise that you take note of some important tips when conducting business in Switzerland.
Dressing and Grooming
“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.” - Zig Ziglar
In Swiss culture, grooming is very important and makes a huge difference in the success of your business meetings. Make sure that you are immaculately dressed – in a corporate style of course. For men pin-stripe suits work well, provided you are in an executive position, and women are advised to keep it corporate too: knee-length skirts and dresses or smart pants are good choices, while low cut shirts and tops are a no-go. A nice buttoned up blouse and smart jacket will do just fine.
“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” - William Shakespeare
As famous as Switzerland is for its beautifully crafted cuckoo clocks (a favourite amongst Swiss souvenier collectors), its etiquette for punctuality is well known. Not only is it rude and inconsiderate to keep your business colleagues and clients waiting, but it will make them nervous too – especially you’re dealing with a customer. Keep it a general rule to arrive at least 10 minutes early. As time-keeping is such a strong aspect of Swiss culture you can always rely on a Geneva airport taxi to get to your clients and meetings on time.
"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.” - Mahatma Ghandi
Strict hierarchy rules apply to Swiss business etiquette when dealing with customers. Upon greeting, one must first address the customer, then the boss, then one’s colleagues. When introductions take place, always remember to introduce the boss to the customer first.
Wining and Dining
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” - Virginia Woolf
In Switzerland, business meetings are mainly conducted in restaurants where lunch meetings take precedence over breakfast meetings. Try finishing everything on your plate, as the Swiss view leftovers as a rude gesture. Only use your hands when breaking bread, and the cutting of soft foods such as desserts, potatoes and salads should be done with a fork. Hands should be kept on the table and make it a priority to leave a business party no later than midnight. In Swiss culture, when both sexes are attending a business meeting, the men are quite traditional when it comes to payment and will, in general, cover the bill.
Overall, Swiss business etiquette is very much a culture of professionalism, manners, respect and consideration. It is quite a breath of fresh air in contrast to some other cultures where business etiquette is busier, noisier and more aggressive.
How to Get to Geneva from London
There are a multitude of airlines that will fly you from London to Geneva Airport, from British Airways to Swiss Air (which are the best for your budget) to Air France and Brussels Airlines, amongst many more. Most of these flights have up to one stop.
How to Get from Geneva Airport into the City Centre
Geneva Airport is based very close to the city. A pre-booked Geneva airport taxi will take you to your destination and back again comfortably and in style. A bus journey into the city will take 20 minutes, whereas the train will get you to the central train station in 6. Know that car rentals are also available.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you’re looking for a Geneva Airport taxi to conference centres in Switzerland, Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you and your luggage get to and from the airport surely, swiftly and safely.