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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.