Geneva is a central hub for a lot of business activity and trade fairs. In this blog, we want to talk about what you need to keep in mind when doing business here, especially if you want to become more successful in achieving your business goals while developing strong relationships at the same time. So if you are working for one of the multinationals looking to do business in Geneva or maybe a part of a smaller organisation looking to do international business at one of the events, you are in the right place!


 

First of all, why is Geneva so famous for its business activity and trade fairs? Geneva is a home to a lot of international organisations, and many other multinational companies hold one of their main headquarters in the city. These include the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and the United Nations. Plus Facebook, HSBC Private Bank, Microsoft, and others. There are also many business events held in Geneva – you can always find one relevant to your industry and find out more information about statistics and trends or meet potential clients/suppliers. These events include the Geneva Motor Show, blockchain conferences, conferences about energy and the future of the Internet and many more. The main venue for such events is the PalExpo (Geneva Exhibition and Congress Centre) which can seat up to 2,500 people and is located next to the airport. All of these events make Geneva a busy business hub with plenty of activity happening in the area. Famously, Geneva (and Switzerland in general) is also known for its Swiss watches with some top businesses in the industry holding headquarters in the city, including Patek Philippe, Piaget, and Vacheron Constantin. The world’s largest physics research centre CERN, investigating the structure of the universe, is also located in Geneva.

 

What should you know when you have just arrived in the city for business? Geneva is the most important city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, though French is not essential here – there is a huge variety of nationalities and languages in the city. Switzerland has four national languages – varying based on the city. In addition, each city has different cultural norms. Therefore, make sure that the person you are doing business with speaks your language or hire an interpreter. In Geneva, everything is easily accessible on foot, however, there is an effective public transport system as well if you’re looking for convenience or need to get somewhere faster. Geneva is an expensive place to stay (rated as the second or third most expensive place in the world for business travel), but some of the most luxurious hotels in the world are also located here, so the higher prices come with high quality. There are a dozen five-star hotels, even though it is a relatively small city. You could say they are “highfordable”! 

If you are arriving by plane and wish to take the public transport, you can make use of a special offer at a  ‘Unireso’ machine and travel by trains and buses for free for 80 minutes. The airport is located 4 minutes away from the city centre. The short journey can also be made by a taxi – they can be found just outside the airport.

Moreover, we have a few tips for you regarding the Swiss culture. Punctuality is important in Switzerland. Well, it is a little less important in French parts, like Geneva, but it is still highly recommended. In the French-speaking parts of Switzerland (including Geneva). small talk can be expected and sometimes a round of (non-alcoholic) drinks can be expected before getting down to business. The locals of the French part are also known as conceptual, analytical thinkers who try to use universal rules to solve problems. The Swiss culture values privacy, so it is better to avoid topics that are too personal. Try to avoid jokes on Swiss culture and humour when possible to avoid offending someone accidentally (works for most cultures, right?). Besides, business cards and gifts are appreciated at the end of negotiations.

 

If you do want to explore the city for a bit of sightseeing and turn your business trip into a bleisure trip, here are some of the top things to do. Geneva’s Old Town has plenty to see and is one of the most scenic areas of Geneva. There are a lot of independent boutique shops, cafes, restaurants and the unique architecture will definitely keep your eyes wandering. Geneva’s Jet d’eau is an enormous water fountain, spouting water 140 meters up into the air – definitely worth a picture. Other good places for this are the Pont du Mont-Blanc and the Promenade du Lac. If you are into humanitarian work, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum displays all the work done by the organisation over the last 150 years. Moreover, Plaine de Plainpalais has one of Switzerland’s biggest and best flea markets involving hundreds of stalls and all kinds of vintage (and not) things.

 

 

 

By Haris Wahid


References

https://www.timeout.com/switzerland/things-to-do/best-things-to-do-in-geneva

https://www.ausbt.com.au/the-basics-of-doing-business-in-zurich-geneva-switzerland

https://www.expatica.com/ch/employment/Doing-business-in-Switzerland-Swiss-business-culture_101552.html

https://www.heathrowexpress.com/news/travel-guides/2014/03/17/the-business-traveller-a-business-travel-guide-to-geneva

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140520-the-art-of-the-swiss-deal