Tips for Business Travellers in Australia
By Rod Morris
If travelling to Australia on business, you’ll find a fairly informal working culture in which there are few strict rules of etiquette. However, it will help to be aware of the following:
You should make advance appointments for meetings and turn up on time; punctuality is valued and expected of visitors, although the hosts may be more relaxed about their own timekeeping.
Avoid visiting from December to February, when many business people take an extended break. Normal office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, but earlier starts and breakfast meetings are increasingly common. Business negotiations may also be conducted informally over evening drinks.
Business attire for meetings is quite conservative, although this varies. In general, a dark suit and tie are the norm for men, and suits or skirts and blouses for women. Clothing is more casual in the summer and in tropical parts of the country.
It is customary to shake hands on meeting business contacts, and to exchange business cards. Meetings are fairly informal, and first names are used following the initial introductions. A little initial small talk is common, but avoid controversial topics like immigration and aboriginal rights.
Australians are not impressed with status or self-importance, so you shouldn’t flaunt or brag about your own or your company’s achievements. Direct communication styles are respected, and presentations should be straightforward and honest. Aggressive negotiating or selling techniques should not be used.
Australians enjoy lively debate and discussions, so don’t be afraid to express your opinions. Good natured humour and teasing is commonly used in meetings and presentations. It is common for people at different levels of the organisation to be consulted before business decisions are made, which may delay the process.
Gift giving is not common in Australian business practice, but a small gift will be appreciated if you are invited to someone’s home.