Successful Entertaining in Spain

Lunch is the main meal of the day and business discussions and deals are often conducted during working lunches — although business is likely to be discussed during the later stages of any meal.

These lunches can often last more than two to three hours and often don’t start until 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm. The meals are often quite large with a number of courses and wine being served. Try not to see this as wasted time — it is an essential part of the relationship building process.

Dinner is often a lighter meal, and is usually not begun until around 10: 00 pm which people from many other cultures find extremely late. It is customary for the person who extends the invitation to pay the bill.

Do not be surprised to be taken outside the office to a coffee house during the day. These informal chats over a coffee are one of the best places to build relationships and many of these offline conversations are the most useful for information gathering, testing the water etc.

Almost all eating establishments include a service charge in the bill. However, it is still customary to leave a tip of about five to ten per cent in restaurants.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Spain has had a rollercoaster ride over the past twenty years from an economic perspective. The country went through a classic boom and bust scenario. The Spanish population felt the highs and lows of a rapid growth in living standards only to be then battered by a massive downturn leading to wage stagnation and record levels of unemployment – especially amongst the younger generation.

Things seem to be picking up however and the hope is that Spain has weathered the economic storm and is poised for a period of solid, manageable GDP growth which can help to drive the country into a more prosperous and sustainable future. Some painful lessons have been learnt the hard way and future economic consolidation will be built on stronger foundations going forward.
If you are thinking of doing business in Spain, the economic signals are positive and now is probably a good time to approach the market. The country has a highly educated workforce and a strong middle-class consumer base. As a key member of the European Union, Spain has well established trading links throughout Europe. Add this to its position as ‘the gateway to South America’ and its geographic proximity to North Africa and Spain starts to look like a highly attractive market.

However, if you are thinking of doing business with Spain it is extremely important that you do some homework before diving into any initial relationship-building activities. What are the key motivators of potential partners or clients in Spain? How are decisions arrived at and what is the best approach in terms of communication? Studying Spanish business culture will help you make the right impressions from the outset.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Spanish 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