Dubai - More people prefer to talk business over a sandwich and cup of coffee
Picking a good place to finalise the last few details about your new business partnership can be a bit tricky nowadays: the office might prove to be too stuffy, while a restaurant might be too noisy and fancy. The coffee shop down the street, however, looks to be just perfect.
For many business executives in the UAE, cafes and coffee shops are proving to be a regular stop in their daily routine. Whether it is a quite place to review some documents, a place to relax and grab a quick bite to eat, or a cosy location for an informal meeting, cafes are increasingly becoming the destination of choice, experts say.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Cezca Chanelle, group marketing manager at Horizon Hospitality, observed that breakfast meetings and lunch meetings in Dubai are becoming increasingly popular.
"In a fast-paced city like Dubai, people are always on the go and time is money. Networking in Dubai is everything and informal meeting locations provide the best ice-breakers and conversation starters, they provide a great leeway to building strong relationships and approach business in a humanistic manner."
Business executives, Chanelle said, like an area that is a bit quieter, but still cosy.
Molly Huggins, manager of Flow at Emirates Towers, said that there are an increasing number of people opting to work or meet at Flow to conduct business over coffee or lunch.
"Technology has empowered an increasingly mobile workforce where business executives are better-equipped to work remotely thanks to enhanced connectivity options and mobile apps," she said.
"This shift towards working at a café is not just limited to business meetings, we have seen an increasing number of freelancers, independent contractors and solopreneurs coming to work from Flow daily. As more millennials join the workforce, there will be an evolution towards working styles and techniques and we believe the trend to use remote workspaces or less formal meeting venues will continue to grow."
"As we are located in an office tower, it is not surprising that over 75 per cent of our customers are business executives," she said. "In terms of customers, the most popular demographic we see at Flow are between 25-35 years of age."
Asked about how long an average business meeting can go on for, she noted that while this depends entirely on the type of business meeting, a corporate trade meeting usually carries on for about two hours.
"We've observed a lot of start-up teams prefer working remotely from cafes such as Flow as employees can utilise a professional space to work, meet clients and make connections to grow and run their businesses. This segment of our customers usually works for a few hours daily treating the cafe as their office space."
Ultra Brasserie also sees its fair share of business meetings. Naim Maadad, COO at Gates Hospitality, noted that the whole purpose of Ultra Brasserie as a brand is to meet and discuss about work and personal life, whilst having a organic healthy lunch or coffee break. Business executives spend 40 to 45 minutes at the venue.
"On average the spend on food would be between Dh70-Dh90, and that on non-alcoholic beverages would be Dh25-Dh35," Maadad said.
Shaun Parsons, complex general manager at Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, noted that it is now extremely common for business executives to pop into Gourmandises not just on a weekly, but a daily basis.
"We have regular guests who sit here every day, often even sit at the same table and order our signature breakfast over a catch up with their business associates. It is also not uncommon to see hotel business guests who have turned a corner of the café into their workspace for the day, and have a host of meetings over tea and coffee. Some pass by for swift business meetings over tea/coffee or lunch, while some occupy the space for a whole day of meetings."
Like Muggins, he believes that technology has made it easier today to conduct business from anywhere.
"Gone are the days business executives need to be seated in an office to conduct business. Nowadays all you need is Wi-Fi. Seeing this trend only grow stronger, is a sign that the culture of doing business outside the office is here to stay."