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Cultural Sensitivity: Does your hotel cater for all guests?

  Posted in Guest Experience  Last updated 22/05/2024

Cultural awareness and sensitivity is extremely important at your hotel, from both a guest and staff perspective. Wherever your hotel is situated you must consider that the culture of visitors may be very different to yours, and it’s also likely you will hire staff from diverse backgrounds too.

Including this in your hotel management strategy will greatly improve your level of guest and staff satisfaction, resulting in better reviews and an improved reputation for your business.

Here are the most important tips you should take note of.

Tip #1

Be conscious of food requirements

Yes, when people travel they are often open and eager to try new things but they also want access to what they like and what they’re familiar with. This is where it’s vital to know the historical trends of your hotel and collect data on your guests.

If the majority of your guests are Chinese, the food you serve in your kitchen or restaurant should provide them with traditional and authentic options. The same goes for Middle-Eastern guests who will require Halal meals to be available. Other cultures, such as Greek, typically eat at unconventional hours. Some Greek travellers probably won’t want their main meal of the day before 10pm so navigating situations like this is something else you will have to juggle.

For guest satisfaction, there are few things more important than the dining experience at your hotel so it pays to consider the options carefully.

If your guests are often Chinese, you should offer traditional and authentic food options.

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Tip #2

Accommodate religious beliefs and rituals

Many religions have strict customs that guests will need to adhere to even when on holiday.

You should think very carefully about setting aside quiet and private spaces for prayer and contemplation. The space needs to be easily accessed and available at all hours of the day, so you don’t exclude anyone.

You should also note the time of year that guests are visiting and see if anything of religious significance is happening. For example, pay attention to the dates for when Muslims practice Ramadan as they change every year. You should consider removing alcohol from their rooms and be flexible around meal times.

Tip #3

Educate yourself on customs and preferences

While dining and religion are definitely the two most important considerations, cultural awareness also extends to the hotel room itself and the everyday interactions with your guests.

Take TV for example. Guests want something that interests them and something that allows them to relax. If all you’re offering is local news channels or cartoons, you may be inviting some frustration from your guest. With some Arabic channels, a Bollywood movie channel and a large variety of daytime international soaps, you’ll be ahead the game.

Another factor is the way your staff communicate with international guests. Even though in Japan bowing is a common custom, it’s a very complicated one and Japanese travellers don’t usually expect to be greeted in this way when they come to your hotel. If you bow too low, or not low enough, you risk offending your guest as soon as they arrive. In the same context, within certain Middle-Eastern cultures a man would never shake hands with a woman.

It’s always best to train your staff to use some reserve in these regards and maintain a neutral but respectful approach.

#Tip 4

Know how to get the best out of your staff

Many hospitality workers are also migrants so the chances of you hiring a staff member from a different culture is high. There may be language barriers to overcome, but the most important element is the attitude and respect you have towards each other.

Feedback and criticism can be approached in many different ways depending on culture. Some cultures like to be direct, while others will be less confrontational and more passive.

In countries like France, Italy, or Spain decisions are always made by people nearer the top of the company hierarchy while in certain Scandinavian countries, lower grade employees are given the autonomy to make decisions. This is why it’s important both you and your staff are on the same page when it comes to managing the many nuances within your hotel.


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By Shine Colcol

Shine is the SEO and Content Manager of SiteMinder, the only software platform that unlocks the full revenue potential of hotels. With 5+ years of experience in content strategy, Shine has produced informational content across various industry topics, mostly about operations management and continuous improvement. She aims to share well-researched articles for hoteliers to discover how to optimize their time and increase room revenue.


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