Successful Entertaining in Portugal

Business entertaining forms an essential part of business development activities in Portugal.

It is considered very normal to invite business contacts for either lunch or dinner — although breakfast meetings are far less common. Lunch usually starts at about 1pm and will last for at least two hours whilst dinner will commence at some time between 8pm and 9:30 and can last for up to three hours.

Mealtimes are used for cementing relationship ties rather than discussing business details – so be wary of starting to talk business unless the topic is raised by your Portuguese counterpart. You should use this time to get to know your Portuguese guests or hosts more fully as people. Family, holidays, sports, your impressions of Portugal etc. will often be discussed on these occasions.

Wine is very often drunk during business meals — although it is becoming somewhat less common at lunchtime.

Service charges are often not included on the bill (except in good hotels) and you should therefore leave a tip. A 5% tip would be normal; 10% is generous.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Portugal

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Portugal’s economy was severely hit by the banking crisis and resulting recession. And, as a result the country has really struggled over the past decade. However, many commentators feel that the shockwaves resulting from the crisis will – given time – provide the impetus for Portugal to carry out several long-needed structural reforms. These reforms it is argued will provide Portugal with a much more solid base to build a strong sustainable economy for the long-term.

It was felt that, for many years, Portugal struggled with a bloated and inefficient public sector which was not only a drain on public finances but also served as a barrier to private investment and entrepreneurship. One of the conditions of the economic bail-out which Portugal was forced to seek following the crisis was that these structural imbalances would be tackled. This process was always going to be a challenge but there are signs of progress and the economy is definitely showing signs of a return to healthy growth.

Given where Portugal is on its path to economic growth there is a strong argument in favour of looking at doing business in Portugal now. It is usually good to enter a market at the early stages of an upward trajectory and Portugal certainly fits that criteria.

If you are considering doing business in Portugal or already have contacts in-country, you would be well-advised to find out a little more about the very distinct business culture you will encounter there. Portugal remains a relationship-based business culture but how do you best form and maintain those relationships? What do you need to know about the key drivers of Portuguese contacts to allow you to maximise any potential commercial opportunities?
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Portuguese business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips