- Business Meeting
- Public Holidays
The following text offers a basic orientation in the informal rules and customs that relate to the conduct of business negotiations in Austria. The Austrian market is one of the very conservative and highly competitive markets. Company representatives who want to succeed on the Austrian market must therefore be fully prepared for negotiations. German is a requirement, as is the preparation of quality marketing documents incl. websites. Austrians prefer traditional domestic and proven brands and emphasize quality, Czech goods nevertheless enjoy a solid reputation and we are considered a supplier of quality industrial products.
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Common addresses are “Guten Tag” or “Grüß Gott”, in written communication “Sehr geehrter Herr…” and “Sehr geehrte Frau…”. In the morning and afternoon hours (until 9-10 a.m.) it is possible to greet with the wording “Guten Morgen”, then in the evening “Guten Abend”. Addresses regularly use function or title, whichever is more significant. The custom of using titles dates back to the days of the monarchy. Titles are used and are widely used to designate functions such as president, governor, general director or secretary, a whole range of councils such as commercial, municipal, provincial, ministerial, chief, court, judicial, etc. Austrians know their value and carefully monitor at what level who Yippee. Only after getting to know each other more permanently do they leave the titles, which applies – with the exception of state administration – to the repeated exchange of e-mails. The younger generation generally places less emphasis on titling. In the case of being contacted by e-mail, the information must be sent in a structured form, i.e. first briefly introduce the company and then proceed to the offer. The basic negotiating language is German.
You need to prepare well for a personal meeting and it is also important to map out your competition. We recommend arranging a business meeting in advance. Meetings are usually held during a working lunch or breakfast, inviting business partners to their homes is unusual in Austria. In such a case, it is advisable to bring the host a gift – for example, good (Czech) wine or flowers.
Although Austrians are good hosts, they like to be invited. During lunch, there is usually conversation about non-work topics, Austrian culture, wine or winter sports are very suitable conversation topics. It is common for work and business matters to be discussed at the end of the meeting.
Editing business cards is standard, similar to the Czech Republic. Different titles and functions on business cards are the rule and it is common for one person to have, for example, three different business cards with the same titles but a different function. Punctuality in negotiations is a matter of course, delays on the part of the partner must be explained. In the event that it is not possible to meet the deadline, it is necessary to notify the business partner in time and agree on a new negotiation.
The length and structure of the actual meeting depends more on the complexity of the issue than on the characteristics of the Austrians. It is matter-of-fact, although it is true that Austrians like to have fun with non-business topics. As a rule, Austrian business partners are pleasant, open, but at the same time matter-of-fact, they know what they want to achieve and have pre-established information about the company they decide to deal with. Austrians can create a pleasant environment for negotiations. They like to show off and are willing to talk about their private life as well.
While it is possible to enjoy a glass of wine or beer at a business lunch, it is more appropriate to avoid alcohol consumption during a company meeting, especially during the first contact with a business partner. Social status is valued and perceived, created hierarchical relationships in society are accepted in everyday life. The Austrians tolerate the use of titles and are consistently scolded during negotiations. A different procedure can understandably be noted in the sphere of startups, whose business culture is young, less formal and significantly influenced by Anglo-Saxon countries.
Ideally, a decision-maker should be part of the negotiating team, and a similar age between business partners can be an advantage. In general, however, the age or gender composition of the team does not play a major role.
Austrian business partners dress well and quality branded clothing is standard for them. Clothing should be formal – for men a suit and for women trousers with a blouse or costume. In rural regions (especially in Tyrol, Salzburg or Carinthia) it may happen that a business partner comes in traditional costume. Women should pay attention to decent jewelry and decent make-up.
The regional differences are not too great, especially in the Alpine regions, but written German is often replaced by a dialect. The Austrian business partner can switch to the dialect, especially if the conversation lasts a long time.
In Austria, various lobby groups play a significant role, which strive to advance their interests, however, the entrenched principle of “social partnership” brings together various interest associations and institutions to negotiate with each other and accept compromises. The Austrian partner is willing to make compromises, but he knows well his own boundaries and, in most cases, the boundaries within which his business partner can move. This often results in consistent pressure on the price. Business negotiations are accompanied by a high degree of seriousness and reliability, however, caution is required in the approach to business partners. Austrians have a significantly higher respect for laws, authorities, officials and guardians of order than is usual in the Czech Republic.
Austrians are open to a wide range of conversations and it is difficult to find a topic that cannot be discussed. However, they are great patriots and one must be careful when the conclusion sounds like criticism of something Austrian, even though educated and objectively minded partners are aware of its justification. On the contrary, wine and winter sports, especially skiing, are popular and grateful topics of conversation. Current developments in politics are also commonly discussed, although one must be careful when evaluating individual political parties. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Austria culture and traditions.
The basis of success is personal dealings and an individual approach to the partner. The Austrian business partner will welcome if the Czech partner informs him in advance about everything important, by e-mail or by phone. An Austrian business partner would like to know exactly what benefits a certain product or service provides, and it is precisely these benefits that need to be clearly communicated. In personal negotiations, he should not be confronted with substantial changes in business parameters. Key points of business matters need to be communicated directly to the responsible employee and should not be communicated through other channels. Smaller details can be resolved again by phone or e-mail. As part of business preparation, the use of e.g. WhatsApp in the state administration and in most companies is rather an exception, while their use is usual for young companies and startups.
The need to use the services of an interpreter depends on the German language level of the Czech partners. Naturally, Austrians prefer to use German as their language of communication. It can be said that many Austrians take it almost for granted that a Czech understands German and will speak German with him. Austrian German (including Viennese German) differs considerably from the written language, and partners do not always take into account the foreigner’s ability to understand. In particular, university-educated persons (and of course the younger generation) have a fairly good command of English, which can then be the language of business. On the other hand, its use quite often results in an emotional distance from the partner. The way to an Austrian’s heart is more likely to be opened by using German. Other languages - and interpreters – are hardly used in normal business negotiations. Very few Austrians speak Czech, however, some know a few basic phrases and words and use them in small talk. It is necessary to avoid remarks in Czech that are not intended for the ear of the Austrian partner, because he could understand them.
First of all, we recommend that you prepare well for negotiations with Austrian partners and perform a market analysis. It is necessary to critically assess whether a certain product/certain service will find application in the demanding Austrian market. A professional procedure includes not only clear communication of all important parameters, but also the preparation of business presentations and websites in high-quality German. Investing in the linguistic perfection of business materials definitely pays off, as increased attention is paid to the business offer from the start.
The Austrian market is saturated – the high quality of the product or service is not enough by itself, it is necessary to present exceptional parameters and ideas. In certain areas, especially engineering, the Czech Republic has a very good reputation in Austria. As always, in the case of a new business contact, it is better to verify the potential partner using local sources. It pays to pay extra attention to the conclusion of contracts – if there are any ambiguities in the draft contract, it is always advisable to consult with a lawyer familiar with Austrian law. It is recommended to speak clearly and concisely during negotiations and to approach negotiations and problems with confidence that they will be overcome. You have to be prepared for very long negotiations, Austrian partners can be very tenacious on key issues, such as prices.
In Austria, most public holidays fall on the same date as in the Czech Republic. The public holidays listed below apply throughout Austria, individual states also celebrate a holiday in honor of their patron saint. Austrian shops are closed on public holidays.
Public holidays: January 1 (New Year), January 6 (Three Kings), Easter Monday, May 1 (Labor Day), Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Corpus Christi, August 15 (Assumption), 26 October (Public Holiday of the Republic of Austria), November 1 (All Saints’ Day), December 8 (Immaculate Conception), December 25 (First Christmas Day), December 26 (Second Christmas Day).
National Patron Saints: March 19 (St. Joseph): Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, May 4 (St. Florian): Upper Austria, September 24 (St. Rupert): Salzburg, November 11 (St. Martin): Burgenland, November 15 (St. Leopold): Lower Austria, Vienna.