How different Businesses Entertain their Clients around the World

How different Businesses Entertain their Clients around the WorldEntertaining clients is a very large and important part of the business world, but corporate entertainment can differ hugely from culture to culture. What’s considered a good idea in one culture may be virtually unheard of, or considered rude in another.

Knowledge of this can make a lot of difference, as it directly impacts your business.

Keep Cultural Differences in Mind

Something important you need to keep in mind is that when you are meeting a client from a different culture, you are actually dealing with two cultures; that of both yours and the client’s. Working with people of another culture is actually extremely interesting and you can learn a lot about different markets and business techniques.

Try to do as much research on the culture you will be dealing with before your meeting; business etiquette does not differ hugely from the rules of being polite when meeting someone for the first time in any culture. Communicate with your clients during their stay and be flexible; they may want to see something entirely different to what you had in mind! Be a good listener.

Entertaining Foreign Clients

It can be tough to know what direction to go in when entertaining foreign clients; in Japan, businessmen bond by going out to get roaring drunk on Sake in up to three top-class restaurants in one night, followed by some karaoke, which is a much different approach to a business outing in the U.K, where business is usually conducted in a more austere, serious way.

A good way to entertain overseas visitors is to celebrate your own business’ culture. Remember though, that language barriers may be an issue and humour sometimes does not translate well from language-to-language. Historical places or sites of great cultural importance are always a safe bet.

Eastern Asia

Business relationships in China and Japan place great importance on social gatherings, such as meals. This is something that translates easily across many cultures, so going out for a meal is also a good way to conduct multi-cultural meetings. If you are dining with Chinese businesspeople, you may want to pay in advance, as the Chinese will always regard themselves as hosts, even in another country. Chinese names are written with the family name first, so the most respectful way to address your Chinese client would be using their business title, such as ‘Manager Liu’.


Apart from some business etiquette, entertaining clients is fairly similar across the western world. Some Europeans such as Danes, the Dutch and Germans are generally more serious when conducting business, with a no-nonsense attitude. Don’t mistake this for rudeness. Just remember to be punctual and polite and maintain a personal relationship and establish trust.

Central Asia and India

Indians highly value personal space very highly; around an arms length is fine. The exchange of business cards when meeting for the first time is very important, as well as asking about the person, hobbies, family etc. before you start business negotiations.

Strict Muslims and most Hindus do not consume alcohol, so business is usually done in high-class restaurants in prestigious hotels. It is normal in India to eat with your right hand, so don’t be surprised if this happens and just follow suit. If you are doing business in India, always bring a gift for the host and his or her children.

As you can see, there are hundreds of different ways to entertain clients; these are just a few, but if you are dealing with a client from a specific country, it is well worth your while doing as much research as you can about the business etiquette of that country.

Paul writes on a number of B2B topics, particularly around business hospitality and networking. He has previously worked in the corporate hospitality industry.

Editorial Team
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