The limelight is on Russia at the moment – or more specifically Sochi – as it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. But for business travellers, Russia is a key destination that is consistently high in demand throughout the year. It is the largest country in the world, rich in natural resources, with the eighth largest economy which has shown resistance to the global economic crisis.
Gateway cities in the west include the capital Moscow; Saint Petersburg – the second largest city and former political capital and now, Sochi – a subtropical beach resort that is currently making the headlines with the Olympic Games. In order to travel to Sochi International Airport, passengers need to typically pick up a transfer flight from Moscow.
As Russia is so large, there are a vast number of airlines that serve the country and provide Business or First Class cabins. The larger operators include SkyTeam members Aeroflot, the formal national carrier operating 129 domestic and international destinations. Newer carriers include Transaero Airlines operating 99 domestic and international destinations and S7 Airlines, originally Siberia Airlines and members of the Oneworld alliance with a route network of 87 national and international destinations.
The top ten busiest airports that are currently in operation in Russia are Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo international airports which are all in Moscow; Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg, Koltsovo Airport in Yekaterinburg, Tolmachevo Airport in Novosibirsk, Pashkovsky Airport in Krasnodar, Ufa International Airport and Sochi International Airport.
Where to Stay
Finding 5-star accommodation shouldn’t be a challenge for business travellers staying in the main cities with luxury brands well represented. Across Moscow and St Petersburg, options include the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Kempinski, Orient Express, Rocco Forte and Corinthia. Reliable business class brands are also expanding fast with a wide selection from chains including Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental, Sheraton, Mercure, Swissotel plus the newer and exceptionally well-reviewed Lotte Hotel. Whilst there is a plethora of luxury and business class brands, travellers should beware that costs can be high with Moscow regularly featuring prominently in cost of living surveys. In TripAdvisor’s 2013 Room Service Survey where the price of average common items and services were compared, Moscow hotels topped the table as the highest in the world.
Business Tips for Visiting Russia
Whilst English is commonly spoken at least to a basic level in the larger cities, a few basic words of Russian will be greatly appreciated everywhere and essential for those travelling in more remote areas. It’s important to ensure that appointments are arranged as far in advance as possible and reconfirmed with sufficient gaps in between to take into account one meeting beginning late. Be punctual but also prepared for more senior contacts to arrive late.
Traditional, smart business attire is appropriate with meetings starting with a brief and firm handshake and introductions using formal family or surnames. Initially personal questions should be avoided but often after a short time, conversation will progress to family, culture and history. When it comes to arranging a suitable time to conduct business, breakfast meetings are rare; it is, however, common for meetings to run over dinner. During such occasions, alcohol commonly flows and your hosts will be generous with additional rounds of food and beverages!