As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do. But as a hotelier, greeting and looking after guests from all around the globe can be quite a challenge. It's important to know each country's etiquette to make guests feel welcome and avoid embarrassing situations. A friendly gesture to one nationality could be less than polite to another.
When dealing with customers, the key qualities needed to ensure professional customer services include friendliness, individuality and flexibility, positive outgoing personality, knowledge, appropriate body language, empowerment to make decisions and reliability
Mannerisms and cultures
Many nationalities have their own unique ways of communicating, with subtle differences that can make greeting a guest an art.
- The French handshake is relatively brief, with eye contact, and not as strong as an American handshake. The French hate to be interrupted, making it far more important for housekeeping to get the timing right on entering a room. Arguments are a form of national entertainment, meaning that managing a complaint is likely to be more spirited when dealing with the French.
- Dressing according to status is important to the Japanese, so it's good to have a smart uniform to reflect the status of a hotel and the impression you want to convey. When communicating, hand gestures and facial movements can be distracting. Smiling can be a form of displeasure, so a broad welcoming grin at check-in may not be appropriate. The Japanese prefer not to use the word "No", which can be alarming when a situation clearly calls for a "No".
- For the British, personal space and privacy are rated highly. Therefore a guest issue may be very important but only expressed discreetly, leaving lots of room for misinterpretation.
- For Australians a similar approach to privacy is the norm. Punctuality is important, as is eye contact, and Australians are almost as good at queuing as Brits.
Ally Dombey, managing director of training provider IFH UK