Coffee vs. Tea at International Meetings

Attendees need refreshment breaks -- but what should you serve them?

A_small_cup_of_coffeeCoffee makes the networking break go ’round, right? Not everywhere. In China, “It’s all about tea,” said Kellen’s Phelps Hope, CMP. “And you can’t get through a tea break without some kind of snack-food item. It could be a little square pastry item, or something of that nature.” Similarly, according to PCMA’s Michelle Crowley, “In Singapore, and most Asian cultures, you would never have a refreshment break without food.”

Also, attendees who expect to talk business across the table should think about timing. In Latin America, “They have the concept of sobre la mesa, which is ‘over the table,’” Crowley said. “That is where the real business conversation is, and it doesn’t begin until after the meal is done or you’re on dessert. You’ll expect to stick around for more than a usual lunch hour.”

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is associate editor of Convene.