How to do business in Lucerne

It can often be daunting to travel to another country on business. Corporate culture can vary dramatically in different destinations so it is always good to be prepared.

Switzerland is a small and diverse country but when it comes to business it is known as a lucrative and successful place where business etiquette is important. As a result it stands out on a European scale. Home to many major European corporations it is a destination where many cultures are often brought together in one room. It is also a place renowned for its advanced technologies. It is good to be prepared in order to feel confident for whatever business meeting you are attending.

Here are some business tips to take with you when you visit Lucerne:

First impressions

First impressions are lasting and can be the make or break of any business relationships or negotiations. Swiss society is fairly conservative and formal and traditionally people often address each other by surname, however this is changing. If you are unsure it is best to address people by their title and surname until invited to do otherwise. Meetings should be pre-arranged for a specific time and be punctual as lateness is frowned upon. To make a good first impression it is not recommended to ask about personal information or make jokes.  If you follow these pointers then you will be sure to be off to a good start.


Negotiations will only come to a close when the best possible outcome can be met. This can often delay proceedings but it is with the best result in mind. Hard sells or pressuring in the business environment is not favoured so it is good to examine all avenues and continue discussions until agreement is met. When in business discussions be direct and to the point as this will gain you respect. The larger the meeting the more formal it is likely to be.

Business dining customs

It is common that most business entertainment is conducted in restaurants. This is a great opportunity to absorb local culture and sample delicious produce. Long lunch meetings are more common than breakfast meetings. If you invite someone to a restaurant for a meeting it is customary to foot the bill.

A country of many languages

Amazingly Switzerland has four official languages: French, German, Italian and Romansch, the latter spoken by only 1% of the population. This can pose challenges in itself but fortunately, English is commonly spoken and understood. If you are unsure, it may be worth organising a translator. Lucerne is situated in one of the German speaking cantons.

Technology and Meeting Facilities

The Swiss are some of the most regarded high-tech innovators in the world. They are often chosen as a test market for new technologies before they are launched elsewhere in Europe.  It was not long ago that conference a meeting rooms had small TV’s, over-head projectors and no wireless internet. In this changing age of technology the Swiss are perhaps ahead of many other European countries with regards to this. Cities like Lucerne now invest in and offer state-of-the-art meeting facilities.

This is evident at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Lucerne. This business hotel offers versatile conference rooms. W-LAN facilities allow guests to easily connect devices to project presentations. The image processor allows four different sources to be projected at one time. Flipcharts have turned electronic and can be controlled by a finger or a special pen and can be connected to via iCloud.

These almost futuristic meeting facilities are just an example of what you may experience when conducting business meetings or attend conferences in Lucerne, or indeed all over the country. Switzerland excels in such technologies. This, combined with the tips above should leave you well-prepared for any successful business meeting.

What are your experiences from doing business in another country?

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