If you follow along on Facebook, you know that I just got back from a business/pleasure trip to Spain. Despite being in the travel business for my entire adult life, I had never been to Europe before this trip, so you can imagine how MAJOR it was.
For the first leg of the trip (and my excuse to go), I taught a class at a resort in Sitges (about 30 miles south of Barcelona) to hotel sales people. The class was full of adorable, amazing hotel sellers, and it was a total pleasure. I had some – probably elementary – observations about the way people work differently in Europe that I wanted to share.
I was trying to get my students to come up with concise, clear statements (like elevator speeches) about various features of their properties. The folks from Spain really had a hard time being concise and even said that it might seem rude to get to the point too quickly. They said their customers would like to hear them go on and on, and that the clients would do the same themselves. It was presented to me as a cultural thing – Spanish people like to talk, apparently! I fit right in.
The European sales people I talked to work far shorter hours than us. A typical hotel sales person in the US is required to work at least 8am to 6pm and often stays late. My Spanish students said that they arrive at work at 9am and stay until between 5pm and 6pm. No siesta, though, despite what you’ve heard, and they eat dinner around 8:30pm rather than the midnight hour we’ve all heard about.
At least in the context of what we were discussing – selling corporate conferences – there was a great emphasis on starting and ending with a drink or celebration. For example, our dinner on the first night began with a cava toast. My students all talked about being sure to end each event with a drink of some sort. I can totally get behind that.
Have you noticed any surprising differences between the way you work and the way your colleagues in other countries work?