Geneva is a city precision-built for business connections
Geneva is a brisk, flashy, business-like city, equally concerned with the pulse of commerce as it is the serious business of world peace. The pace of life and cost of living here can make it a slightly daunting place to touch down in for a quick business trip, so our quick primer should help you set your Tag Heuer and get your bearings.
Being home to the UN, Red Cross, dozens of banks and countless NGOs, Geneva is both a major international diplomatic hub and a busy financial centre. As a result the business culture is quite conservative and hierarchical, so punctuality, smart dress, politeness and formality are all expected.
When handling introductions, it’s best to use titles instead of first names and introduce your manager to your client first. Meetings tend to be brisk, to the point affairs. English is widely spoken in meetings, though a quick greeting in French (Swiss French deviates little from the mother tongue) wouldn’t go amiss.
The five-star Le Richemond, one of the city’s grand dames of the Belle Epoque era, has recently been refurbed, with lake views and one of the world’s most extravagant suites at an eye-watering $17,500 a night.
The Swissotel Metropole has signature rooms with neat features like an ironing on arrival service and whizzy room-high mirrors, which double up as huge TVs you can connect to your I-pad.
In a city not known for its affordable hotels, Design Hotel F 6 is a smart budget option, with free Wi-Fi, meeting spaces and in-room Nespresso coffee machines.
There is no shortage of top tables in Geneva to wow clients. L’Adresse is a stylish bistro-cum-fashion-boutique, up a red staircase in a former artist’s studio in the Eaux-Vives district.
Rasoi by Vineet in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is an interesting proposition, being Europe’s only Michelin-starred Indian restaurant.
If you’re forking out yourself, then Café du Rond Point is a stalwart budget bet serving reliable brasserie fare. With its corner terrace it also makes for a fine meeting point and people watching space in the heart of the city.
The Geneva region is renowned for its pastry produce. Some tempting morsels you may want to try include Gâteau du Vully, a sweet, yeasty dough and Malakoffs, a type of deep fried cheese doughnut of Crimean origin.
Swiss white wine is excellent but rarely exported, so take the chance to stow a few bottles of Chasselas Mondeuse from Lake Geneva vineyards into your case.
FloorTwo at the Grand Kempinski Hotel has a panoramic terrace where you can gaze out at the Jet d’Eau while sipping a signature cognac and Cointreau cocktail.
For a more intimate, bohemian vibe, head to Café Marius on Place des Augustines, a cosy Art Deco wine bar oozing Left Bank charm. If you’re hitting the tiles in a group, then Café Cuba on Place du Cirque is a lively Latin outpost that does a mean mojito.
London City runs 19 flights a week to Geneva, with four daily flights on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. The majority of the best business hotels are within a few hundred metres to the right of the main train station, Gare de Cornavin
Public transport in Geneva runs like clockwork, as you’d expect, taking in buses, trams, trains and even yellow taxi-boats that traverse the lake. You’ll get a free Transport Pass courtesy of your hotel, plus an 80-minute pass at the airport when you arrive.
The train from the airport takes just 6 minutes to reach the downtown area. The business district is on the River Droite (Right Bank) 2 kilometres north of the station, while the Left Bank is home to an elegant Old Town and University.
Once you’ve finished your business, take a tour of the Palais des Nations. The United Nations’ European HQ and cradle of diplomacy houses 2,000 artworks, including Miquel Barcelo’s incredible ceiling fresco.
You’d be hard-pressed to miss the Jet D’Eau, the lakefront water fountain that shoots a jet 140 metres into the air, while Geneva’s answer to Greenwich Village, the market town of Carouge is worth the tram ride, packed with leafy squares of Sardinian architecture, galleries, craft workshops and boutiques.
For more, see our guide for how to spend 24 hours in Geneva.
Business need to know
Being a major conference centre, Geneva attracts all manner of events, from the International Motor Show in March to CERN’s open days in May and Europe’s biggest sailing regatta in June.
The Swiss have a reputation for being early adopters of new technology, so IT companies are thriving here. Other growth areas include health and pharmaceuticals, while the more traditional industry of watch production is booming again, thanks to fresh demand from Asia.
Watch your hands! The Swiss are less demonstrative than their European neighbours, so don’t go overboard using your hands in meetings. Whatever you do, don’t point at your head as this can be interpreted as an insult.
Learn more about Geneva on the tourist board’s website.
Hit the ground running with these apps and sites that put the pleasure back into business travel.
Here at London City we know that business travel can frazzle the coolest of heads. Juggling a hectic schedule, navigating cavernous airports, foreign tongues and customs can leave precious little brain energy for negotiations and client demos. Even the most grizzled road warrior could use a helping hand, so check out these handy tools that cut out the donkey work!
While there’s no shortage of niche apps that give you simple recommendations for nearby restaurants, bars and cafes, this city guide stalwart still has the edge, since it covers all amenities. To let everyone know your whereabouts as soon as you arrive check out its new sister social check-in service Swarm.
English may be la lingua franca of business but having a few language basics ensures smoother transitions for busy travellers. @Duolingo provides an instant, graduated, immersion in 14 of the most common languages, delivered in bite size chunks that get you listening, speaking and writing immediately. And best of all, it’s completely free.
If you’re a regular business traveller, chances are that you’ll have notched up your fair share of airmiles and reward points, but who has time to check just how many you have before you can cash in for that hard-earned long haul upgrade? Now you don’t have to, thanks to the @Mileblaster, which tracks your points across a multitude of loyalty programmes, including car hire and hotel ones, plus it’ll even notify you before your points are due to expire.
Whether you’re a hyper-cautious early arriver or lumbered with lengthy layovers, there’s bound to come a time when you need to decompress over your laptop in a decent airport lounge. @LoungeBuddy is your key to this land of warm muffins and endless aperitifs, showing your nearest available options - including those with one-off fees - depending on your points, privileges and specific needs.
Arguably the most business-centric of the plethora of travel organiser apps available, @WorldMate threads all your confirmation emails into one attractive, easy to read itinerary that accommodates your business meetings and even prompts you with up-to-the-minute hotel upgrade suggestions.
Say goodbye to wallets bursting at the seams with creased receipts and tatty transport tickets, @Expensify lets you scan receipts in, quickly categorise them, create and send handy expense reports on the fly. It integrates with everything from QuickBooks to Evernote and automatically converts foreign currencies, keeping those pesky calculator headaches at bay.
The life of a business traveller can often be a lonely one and while some cities employ professional greeters, many do not. @Tripbod brings a personal touch with highly customised concierge services. Clued up locals can provide in-depth trip planning before you go or take you on a personalised tour reflecting your own interests, rather than just relying on the tourist board.
Finding a trustworthy taxi in a jiffy after hitting the tarmac was always something of an occupational hazard for business travellers. Until @Uber arrived that is. The world’s fastest growing company is now active in over 100 cities worldwide. Cashless payments and neat touches like ‘one tap booking’ and receiving the name, number, snapshot and real-time location of your driver make it a truly seamless experience.
Maxed out your data and can’t get on to wi-fi when you land? Forget about roaming charges, @Ulmon’s app has detailed maps you can download (limited in the free version) and use offline for some 6000 destinations. It even shows your current location sans internet, backed up with user tips and destination content, including medical services and hotel suggestions.
By Jools Stone
For any assistant booking a flight for the boss can be a daunting task. Where do you start and how do you make sure they are happy with your choice? Here are my top tips on booking a flight for your boss…
15 questions to ask your manager about their flight
Other things to consider…
If your organisation is based in London I would always recommend you book your flights from London City Airport. It is without doubt the UK's fastest airport for business travel. I've been on a few business trips to Amsterdam via London City Airport and every time it was the quickest and easiest way to travel. It is by far the nearest airport to the City and amazingly it only took me 20 minutes to get from the terminal entrance to the departure lounge which is frankly a miracle these days! Once I arrived back from Amsterdam, within 15 minutes of landing at London City airport, I was on the DLR heading back to my office.
It is worth remembering that London City Airport is actually the only airport located within London! The public transport connections are brilliant. It is 14 minutes from Canary Wharf so everyone working in the Docklands should use London City Airport and for everyone else it is only 22 minutes from the airport to Bank station, which is located in the heart of London's financial district.
Once our managers leave the office to go on their business trip they are unfortunately out of our control, which can cause any number of headaches! London City Airport is the most punctual airport in the UK so yet another reason to organise business travel from there. The flight network is growing; at the moment you can book flights to over 40 European destinations including Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt, Edinburgh and Amsterdam.
I booked a flight for my manager to travel from London City Airport to New York. Yes that is right London City Airport does fly to New York; it's not just Europe! The flight was unfortunately delayed at JFK by quite a few hours. Once my manager eventually arrived into the London office he was so pleased he flew into London City Airport. When my manager is tired and jet-lagged the last thing he wants is to be stuck in a big airport and then have to do the long journey into the centre of London!
London City Airport love assistants!
London City Airport's Premier PA Club is designed specifically for PAs, EAs and Administrators. It is completely FREE to join and there are NO annual subscription fees. Members of the Premier PA Club can expect up to date flight news and travel information from London City airport, invitations to exclusive PA events and competitions. Also assistants will have access to London City Airport's promotions and business briefings.
The club is only available to members so click here to register and join the Premier PA Club today!
It’s a strange feeling being stuck; knowing you can’t leave and there are so many other things you should or could be doing but there’s nothing you can do about it. Having no control over the situation is frustrating.
I accompanied a group of our favourite travel writers on a trip to Switzerland last month, so that they could experience flying through London City Airport first hand, to promote the route to Geneva operated by SWISS and to demonstrate the ease of flying from LCY for a skiing break. You can leave your desk at 4pm on Friday, be on a plane by 5.30pm, in the resort in time for a late dinner and drinks, have two days skiing, fly back first thing Monday morning and go straight back to the office. That’s the idea anyway.
The outbound leg of the trip worked like clockwork; through security at LCY in minutes and time for a leisurely breakfast before boarding to get acquainted. A transfer from Geneva by train and bus took us to the Alpine resort of Villars where we enjoyed beautiful scenery, skiing, après-ski, traditional raclette dinner and an all-round magical weekend. That is until we got back to Geneva airport to return home. Of course we knew there was snow in the UK but were hoping that we’d be the lucky ones whose flight was unaffected. Alas no. The flight was cancelled and it dawned on us why there were so many people sitting around going nowhere.
All remaining direct flights to London airports that day were full so we were booked onto the first flight the following morning. The next task was to find somewhere to stay for the night, so we paid a visit to the tourism desk at the airport. The clerk told us that Geneva was full as so many people were stranded so our group of five, who had met for the first time this weekend, would have to share three rooms. Of course we questioned this but were told in no uncertain terms that every hotel was full so off we went with our reservation to the hotel he had selected for us.
On arrival at the hotel I asked again about additional rooms. Turns out the hotel wasn’t full at all. Around an hour and a half later, when the receptionist had finished arguing with the airport tourism office we finally got our original reservation cancelled and rebooked five individual rooms. Exhausted and irritated we had dinner and got an early night ready for a 5.00am start to make our flight.
Back at Geneva airport we checked in, went through security, arrived at the gate and every information screen said the flight was on time. Phew. Time ticked on and 15 minutes after our scheduled take off time, the flight was cancelled. None of us could quite believe it. “What if we never leave here and I have to wear these clothes for the rest of my life?” said one of the group. “If I’d have known this would be the last outfit I ever got to choose I’d have chosen it differently.” Humour kept us going. Kept us going back out of security, down to arrivals to reclaim our bags for the second time. Back to the check in desk to get our third boarding pass in two days; maybe this one would be third time lucky. To our new in-direct route of Zurich for a five hour layover and then onward to an alternative London airport. In total a 31 hour delay and a challenging experience, but a great ‘travel chaos’ story to share and a bunch of new friends.
Of course heavy snow is not a problem we face every day in the UK and it’s rare for it to cause major travel disruption. Our trip took us to a country where snow is the norm and enabled us to experience life on the piste, and the whole group fell in love with it.
You can fly direct from LCY to Switzerland, France and Italy, from where a whole host of ski resorts are within easy reach. Or if you prefer to keep a firm grip on the ground beneath your feet you can choose another of our 44 destinations for a well-deserved break. We offer some of the quickest times through departures and arrivals of any airport and free wifi for all passengers, so it really is the most efficient way to travel to and from London. Snow permitting…
Irish Dancing Flashmob Welcomes Passengers on CityJet AF5118 From Dublin
London City Airport, the only London airport actually in London, has seen the total number of flights (arrivals and departures) handled by the airport since it opened in 1987 reach the one million mark. The millionth movement, which arrived at LCY at 0850 on Wednesday July 11 2012, was CityJet flight AF5118 from Dublin.
As the unsuspecting passengers walked through the arrivals doors into the main terminal concourse, they were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine and an impromptu Irish dance performance from professional dancers who had been mingling with the normal Wednesday morning crowds. As soon as the performance was over, the dancers disappeared leaving the passengers to continue with their journey, having been part of something brief, but momentous.
If you are someone who is always looking for new places to visit for weekend getaways, appreciate fine wine, traditional French food and a charming historic setting to enjoy it in, then we may have found your next mini-break destination.
Last week, to highlight the possibilities that have been opened up by the new British Airways flight to Angers, London City Airport hosted its first blogger trip by whisking away six food and wine lovers to France’s beautiful Loire Valley. We enlisted the help of tourist board Pays de Loire to create a jam-packed schedule of decadent activities that showed off the region’s highlights, and certainly left no one hungry or thirsty.
To help you discover what the region has to offer, here are a few of the mouth-watering, tongue- tingling activities that we fitted into our short stay.
After checking in at London City Airport, we set the mood for the trip with a visit to the airport’s City Bar and Grill. The bar’s knowledgeable manager Antony Stanley talked us through the unique wine list and hand-picked two refreshing wines, the ‘Couteaux Du Layon, 2008’ and ‘Chateau Pierre-Bise Savennieres Clos de Coulaine 2010’, to accompany a delicious plate of cured meats and pâté.
After a short flight that took little more than an hour, we checked into the Hotel Mercure Centre, which overlooks the lush Jardin des Plantes in the heart of Angers, and got ready for an afternoon of sightseeing, wine and food.
We strolled through the cobbled streets of the city and stopped at the Chateau D’Angers to see one of the area’s historical gems, the 'Apocalypse De Angers'. Four metres high and one hundred metres in length, this is the world’s largest medieval tapestry and was woven for Louis I, Duke of Anjou (1373-87). It took seven years to make and illustrates the 'Book of Revelation' or the 'Apocalypse'.
Next stop was La Maison des Vins de Loire at Hotel de la Godeline, where host Laetitia Proux gave us a fascinating introduction to the Loire Valley wines. We tasted six different wines: Crement de Loire ‘Cuvee Flame’; Chateau Pierre-Bise Anjou Blanc 2009; Chateau Yvonne ‘La Folie’ Saumur Champigny 2010; Chateau des Rochettes’ Pieces du Moulin’ Ajou Villages 2010; Domaine de Bois Moze Rose d’Anjou 2011; Domaine des Petits Quarts Bonnezeaux 2010.
Wine tasting in La Maison des Vins de Loire
For dinner we ate at Mets et Vins Plaisirs, which had, of course, an extensive wine list of over 300 wines, many from local producers. Hidden away from the road, this restaurant proved to be another gem in the city of Angers. I drank Crement de Loire, a wonderful dry, fresh wine with my meal of Carre de d’angeau au romarin & petits pois carottes (rack of lamb with rosemary, peas and carrots). Desert was quite a treat too, a Bavarian mango and strawberry soup with crushed pistachios, which was written on the menu as ‘ Bavarois mangues, soupe de fraises et pistaches concassees’.
A short 30 minute journey from the hotel in Angers brought us to the glorious hillside vineyards of the Closel Chateau des Vaults. We were given a guided tour by the estate’s owner Evelyne de Jessey, the Vicomtesse de Pontbriand, who is of the fourth generation of female vintners to oversee the production of the vineyard’s award winning Savennieres white wine. Evelyne really brought to life the unique elements and intricate processes that create the variety of fine wines from the Chenim Blanc grape.
Vines of Chateau des Vaults
|Back in the chateau, which nestles among 15 acres of garden, we sampled 13 different wines from the family label ‘Domaine de Closel – Chateau des Vaults’. For a wine-tasting newcomer like me, the visit to Chateau Des Vaults had provided a brilliant insight into the geography, history and passion that goes into winemaking.|
Inside Chateau des Vaults
We visited La Coisette, a traditional ‘guinguettes’ in Behuard for lunch to enjoy some of the region’s traditional dishes. For dinner I had a light fish starter of ‘rillettes de poisons’, followed by fricassee d’andouillette aux, petits oignons’ (sausage with onions and chips) and a desert of crème aux griottes (cream with cherries).
Afternoon tasting began at Domaine de Bablut where we were met by Christophe Daviau. The Daviau family of wine makers owned windmills and vineyards on the hills of the Aubance in the Loire region as early as 1546. Our wine education continued with a visit to the cellars, where among the great barrels and cylinders we learnt more about the drink’s journey from vine to bottle. We tasted Anjou Villages Brissac red wine, Rose d’Anjou and the sweet wine of Coteaux de l’Aubance.
Wine tasting session at Domain de Bablut
Chateau de Brissac wine cellar
We walked off our lunch and tasting escapades with a tour of the Chateau de Brissac. Home to the Duke of Brissac since 1502, the castle has 204 rooms, 7 levels and is known as the tallest in France.
Our last dinner of the trip was at a beautiful little restaurant called ‘La Table de la Bergerie’. The establishment is well known for its own wines, which are produced on the vines located opposite the restaurant. For dinner I had the Poisson du jour, which was turbot, followed by the delicious ‘Nage de fraise au cabernet, mascarpone vanillée, sorbet fraise’ (Strawberry cabernet, vanilla mascarpone and strawberry sorbet).
We spent the morning exploring the vineyard and wine caves of the Domaine de la Tuffiere in the Beaugeois area of the Loire Valley, between Angers and Saumur. Local monks choose the south facing slopes to establish the vineyard in the 14th century. It was the perfect spot to enjoy a traditional French picnic of salad, baguette, pork and cheese and one of the vineyard’s delicious Rose Cabernet D’Anjous before making our way to the airport for a journey home. We arrived at London City Airport at 14.30 and it only took us 10 minutes from wheels down to the DLR – it just doesn’t get any better than this!
So, what are you doing for the Olympics? That’s the question we’re being asked at LCY all the time. People naturally assume that as we’re an airport and as we’re just three miles from the Olympic site that we’re probably part of the opening ceremony – preferred supplier of fly-pasts to the Games of the 30th Olympiad (or similar).
It’s also assumed that we’ll have the jets of the rich and famous lined up in descending order of size at the western end of the runway, our baggage handlers will be overwhelmed with strange and unusual carrying cases (for the hammers, and discii, and javelins and shot), and the floor of the terminal will be temporarily covered in sand to make the beach volleyballers feel at home.
Well, fans of London City Airport - of our friendly staff, our 20 minute check-in time, our 10 minute arrival and our convenient location – nothing could be further from the truth. With 67 days to go until the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games, it’s business as usual at the only London airport actually in London.
Business as usual means exactly that – the 250-odd flights handled by LCY every day will continue to arrive and depart. We do have capacity outside of peak hours, but we don’t do charter flights and – in any case - it requires a special type of aircraft to fly in and out of LCY (fixed wing, since you ask, certified to fly 5.5 degree angle approaches – is that too much information?).
So, while we do expect some extra flights and some extra passengers, and perhaps some Games Family and athletes, what we will be doing during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is mostly serving the business and leisure travel needs of you, the discerning LCY customer (of whom there are three million every year) and working closely with our airline partners (and LOCOG) to meet any changes to expected demand.
Yes, we’re three miles away from the Olympic Park – which is very convenient if that’s where you’d like to go. But we’re also three miles away from Canary Wharf, seven miles away from the City of London and 13 miles away from London’s West End – which provides unrivalled access to everything else that’s on offer in London.
So while Heathrow is full to bursting, and they’re dealing with quantities of baggage like they’ve never seen before, while Gatwick is coping with its normal tourist charter flight business and dealing with extra Olympic traffic, while Stansted is star-stuck with the private planes of the rich and the famous – London City Airport will be getting you where you want to go, reasonably quickly and reasonably easily.
Reasonably quickly and reasonably easily? Well, the one thing we can guarantee we’ll all be doing for the London 2012 Olympics is allowing extra time for our journeys. Keep an eye on traffic and transport reports, because it will definitely take longer. Follow us on Twitter @londoncityair for up-to-date airport information or visit our website www.londoncityairport.com - oh, you already have.