Accommodating the International Guest

By Sanjay Nijhawan COO, Guoman Hotels (UK) | June 06, 2010

Welcome to the hospitality in the twenty first century: the last twenty years has witnessed the evolution of a global marketplace. A global age demands acute global awareness, keeping up with demands from international guests requires foresight and keen planning.

In a multi-cultural environment problems can occur when differences in hierarchy, status and protocol lead to poor communication and misunderstanding.

Every society has numerous nuances that would make it irresponsible to suggest a uniform approach to understanding any country's social/business customs or etiquette. Yet, having a set of loose guidelines can assist in bettering awareness and avoiding offence.

In this essay I outline five essential practices that meet the growing demand for multi-cultural awareness within the hospitality industry.

1. Effective linguistic communication and provisions

Of course as any good hotelier knows cross-cultural communication all starts with identifying and understanding the cultural demographic of your hotel. This should be kept in mind in order to maintain an effective and proactive recruitment policy so that your hotel provides at all times a good mix of staff who, between them, are equipped with the necessary range of language skills. Build on what you've got too - ensure regular language training is available to staff to build on staffs' linguistic repertoire simply or to maintain existing language skills.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.