You should receive your Russian business partners with the utmost hospitality. Your guests will expect their stay to be well organised, taking it for granted that they will be looked after intensively.
This support applies from their arrival at the airport. Your Russian business contacts will certainly want to be met in person and accompanied to their hotel. Do not simply delegate this task to the new intern. Your guests should be welcomed by a senior representative from your company. Hierarchies are extremely important when doing business in Russia.
Moreover, the hotel should be chosen with great care. Your Russian business partners would always stretch their company budget to the limit to make their guests’ stay as pleasant as possible. By this means, Russians wish to show that they are committed to a long-term “love affair”, metaphorically speaking, and not interested in a hasty one-night stand. Accordingly, their expectations are high.
Choose the hotel carefully, ideally checking in advance whether your visitors would like a spa, a gym or any other amenities. Either way, the hotel should have at least four stars.
Furthermore, Russians will expect to be taken to good restaurants every evening. But be warned: just like your chosen hotel, the establishment you select reflects your appreciation of your guests. Make the most of this opportunity. Do not simply pick the eatery around the corner, book a table at an exclusive restaurant.
Invite your guests to order à la carte. For good measure, you should check beforehand whether all members of the Russian delegation can manage with a menu in German or English. Otherwise, you should ensure that several courses are served, each with plenty of different dishes. Russians are generally fond of international cuisine. Only dishes containing vinegar may not necessarily appeal to Russian tastes.
The leisure programme
On the whole, Russians are extremely sociable and will expect the same from you as their host. Therefore, your leisure programme should include a great many highlights, with events or other entertainment. Of course, there can also be a day or two when nothing is scheduled. Other than this, it goes without saying that you yourself take part in any joint activities.
For example, if you go bowling or to a karaoke bar together, do not keep a low profile and hide in the corner. Instead, you should grab the microphone and be the life and soul of the party. In Russian culture, opening up and establishing an informal basis are conducive to good business. You have a definite advantage if you can relax and let your hair down after lengthy meetings.
Why not invite your Russian business partners to your home in order to strengthen the interpersonal relationships still further? However, it is imperative that you insist when extending a private invitation. Russian etiquette calls for the first invitation to be refused, albeit in friendly terms. You should therefore repeat the invitation several times, giving your Russian guests an opportunity to accept with peace of mind.
You are advised to follow the same procedure when offering refreshments. Do not do so just once but over and over again. In this case, too, your Russian guests will decline politely at least once. Never place dishes on the table without comment for people to help themselves. Your Russian guests will only accept with alacrity when food has been offered several times.
As regards the choice of dishes served at a private home, the motto is: be the host with the most. Russians will regard a cheese board and cold meat as hors d’oeuvre at most and not as the only course they are to be served for dinner. From the Russian point of view, hospitality is synonymous with generosity and largesse.
It is therefore no wonder that, in Russia, fine dining can last up to four hours as a sociable gathering. After all, Russians enjoy making conversation while eating and raise many a toast between the various courses. Depending on the time of day, a stroll is always welcome after the meal, especially if it includes some interesting sights.