Austria: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Austria

Austrians are quite formal in their business dealings. A working knowledge of German is very advantageous. Best times to visit are the spring and autumn months.

The Austrians, especially the Viennese, can be extremely formal to strangers. It is essential to address business contacts by their title, until familiarity is well established. English is commonly used in international business settings, but a few words in German (by way of introduction) will not go amiss. Business dress is not too formal in Vienna and it is possible to go to a business meeting without a tie. It is, however, better for business visitors to err on the side of caution in the first instance.

Business hours are generally Monday to Friday 0800-1600/1700, with many offices closing slightly earlier on Friday at 1500/1600. Austrians greatly enjoy eating in restaurants and business meetings are often scheduled over a long lunch. Breakfast and brunch meetings are also becoming increasingly popular. However, business visitors should not suggest lunch as a location for a first meeting.

Austrians tend to keep work and social life separate. Overtime and weekend work is rare. On those few occasions when you are invited to a business contact or colleague's home for dinner, a gift of flowers for the hostess and a bottle of wine for the host are essential, as is punctuality. Visitors to homes should also at least offer to take off their shoes upon entering. Business meals are more for getting to know people, so family and politics should be avoided in conversation.

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1230 and 1330-1730.

Economy

Austria is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Manufacturing, including mining, accounts for nearly 30% of GDP. Since WWII, much of the country's industrial capacity has been in state hands and only recently has been removed from under the protective wing of the state holding company, OIAG.

Tourism is a hugely important part of the Austrian economy, especially since joining the EU in 1995. Its agriculture industry is also extremely successful, with domestic products meeting 90% of the country's food needs. Austria has moderate deposits of iron, lignite, magnesium, lead, copper, salt, zinc and silver. Although there are some oil reserves and an extensive hydroelectric programme, Austria imports two-thirds of its energy requirements.

The previously substantial trade with both the USA and the former USSR has fallen proportionally in recent years. Austria met the criteria for membership of the single European currency and joined it upon its inception at the beginning of 1999, adopting the Euro as its currency. Since then, in common with most of the EU, the economy has been sluggish. However, GDP growth was just over 3% in 2006, while inflation was at 1.7%, down from 2.6% in 2005.
Austria has 31 conference venues, including over 20 in Vienna and a floating conference centre, the MS Mozart, on the river Danube. The provincial capitals of Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, Linz, Bregenz, Klagenfurt and Eisenstadt also offer convention venues, as do several health and spa resorts. Furthermore, there are approximately 70 hotels in Austria which specialise in the conference/convention field. For more detailed information, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office (see Contact Addresses).

GDP

US$332 billion (2010).

Main exports

Machinery, metals, paper, textiles and livestock.

Main imports

Machinery and equipment, vehicles, chemicals and oil.

Main trading partners

Germany, Italy, Switzerland, USA and China.

Keeping in Touch in Austria

Telephone

Call boxes are grey and found in all areas. International calls can be made from payphones with four coin slots.

Mobile phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good.

Internet

Wi-Fi is available throughout Austria. There are also many Internet cafes.

Post

Letters within Europe take two to four days, and to the USA four to six days. Post boxes are yellow or orange; red stripes mean that the box is also emptied weekends and bank holidays.

Post office hours

generally Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1400-1800, and Sat various hours, but main post offices and those at major railway stations are open for 24 hours, seven days a week, including public holidays. Monetary transactions in all post offices permitted Mon to Fri until 1700, Sat 0800-1000.

Media

Austria's public broadcaster, Österreichischer Rundfunk, has long-dominated the airwaves, but now faces growing competition from private broadcasters, particularly in Vienna. This is a relatively new phenomenon to Austria. Some German cable or satellite channels deliberately tailor their content for Austrian audiences. The print market is mainly privately owned, fiercely competitive and popular.

Press

English-language newspapers and magazines are also widely available, particularly in the big cities and tourist resorts.

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