Choosing to host conferences in Spain is an easy choice for many industry specialists. It’s not only central, safe and technologically geared but also has sunny weather and wide range of cultural and leisurely activities which make for popular post-conference recreation.
But whether you’re wining and dining delegates in a Gaudí building in Barcelona or treating them to cocktails overlooking the Costa Blanca from one of the luxury hotels in Calpe, there are always cultural gaps to bridge when going from country to country. Here are a few tips on how to mind the gap the next time you’re coordinating or attending conferences in Spain.
In an article weighing up the differences between the Spanish and British way of life, it’s noted that in Spain “there are various character and attitude traits that can seem a little blunt and even offensive to people from other cultures, particularly the British.” It goes on to remind foreigners that in Spain, this is simply the way people are. Whereas the British are generally more reserved, the Spanish are less fussed about the idea of personal space and queueing.
The timing of activities over the day differs widely from the UK. Of course, when hosting conferences in Spain, your daily schedule will run as you see fit, but for the general public, things start a bit later than they might back home. On average the working day starts around 10 a.m and lunch and siestas during the summer take place between two and four. Often workers will stay at the office until as late as eight at night, before coming home to a late dinner and even later bedtime.
Owing to the lunch period across the country, many services, such as the post office and banks, close during lunch hour. Cafes and restaurants generally stay open but don’t count on doing business in the middle of the day.
Napkins on the floor
In tapas bars, particularly in the bigger cities, you’re likely to see scrunched-up napkins tossed on the floor. No need to mistake it for messiness, apparently throwing napkins onto the floor instead of piling them onto plates makes dishwashers’ jobs a little easier as there’s no need to be concerned about napkins clogging up the sink. The napkins are simply swept from the floor later. This is according to an article on cultural differences that one American discovered during her extended stay in Spain.
Only say “thank you” when thanks is due
According to this same article, in America and a number of other countries too, “thank you” is said a whole lot more than is commonly heard in Spain. She uses an example of being handed homework by her Spanish teacher and everyone in the class saying “gracias”, but after a while the teacher asked “Why is everyone saying thank you for homework? It’s not a gift! It’s homework! You foreigners say thank you for everything!” In Spain, reserve your gratitude for when it’s due, for instance “when a waiter brings you your food, someone gives a gift, etc.”
For those intrigued by the prospects of immersing yourself or your delegates in the delights of this warm, friendly and beautiful country by hosting conferences in Spain, get in touch with us. Our portfolio of luxury hotels in Calpe are consistently rated as top choices for MICE events and conferences in Spain.