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– Hospitality Cultural Competence – Offering a warm and germ free welcome

These are exciting times for hospitality professionals! Your position puts you right at the center of your brand’s push to expand globally. You are a trusted resource. Your expert knowledge and cultural advice will be used by both executives and staff to project international respect, confidence and authority. In other words, as a competent representative of your brand, you have the unique ability to attract and maintain guests and clients globally.

Why then do you insist on coughing into your right hand? This is the hand that you will offer to international guests, clients, vendors, heads of state and other global dignitaries. To be excellent brand ambassadors, hospitality professionals must learn the rules of global business behavior.

Handshaking Internationally

You will be judged by your handshake. The person who extends his or her hand first generally has the power position when introducing him or herself.

Let’s say you are at a cocktail party and you have a cough. Your potential guest or client has observed you coughing or sneezing. Why risk your international (and local) credibility by reaching for your international guest’s hand and offering him either a germ-laden welcome, or her a wet and cold paper cocktail napkin?

It’s important to keep our right hands not only clean, but free of cocktail glasses, wet paper napkins, purses, brief cases, reading glasses and food. It’s not about eating and drinking. Mingling with the public is about representing your brand with dignity. Have something to eat before the reception so that you can concentrate on your business agenda and not on your stomach.

Handshakes vary from country to country. As an example, in France the accepted handshake is a light grip with one brisk stroke. In Asian countries women may only nod. Western Europeans don’t want you to stand too close. Never pull your hand away from an international guest too soon as this may indicate rejection. Business customs differ dramatically from country to country. Read up on the subject. Ask an expert. Be prepared!

Introductions Globally

To develop and maintain successful international guest relationships you need to know one very important point. International guests do not appreciate the North American sense of instant familiarity and lack of formality. Rules of formality are strictly observed overseas (outside of the United States and Canada). Globally, a proper introduction is a sign that you respect your guest. Are you able to introduce your GM and your company’s best international guest? Remember to say the name of the most important person first. That would be your guest. Guests are always more important than anyone on your property.

What about foreign titles? As an example, your guest may be from Germany and might be Herr Doctor or Frau Doctor. If you are going to make a mistake regarding rank and status, make a formal one! Never address an international guest by his or her first name until invited to do so. Your introduction would be, “Frau Doctor, I would like to introduce Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones is the General Manager of the hotel.” As the person of superior rank, your guest would extend her hand first and say, “Good Morning, Mr. Jones.” Mr. Jones would receive her handshake and say, “Good morning, Frau Doctor.” The German handshake grip will be firm and there will be only one stroke.

Does this seem like a lot to remember? Just think about the number of different countries that your global guests represent. There’s a lot of important information to learn to ensure both international guest happiness and increased revenue for your property. That’s why I recommend that you be prepared.

There is so much to know about working in the international hospitality arena. Additionally, people universally judge you by your handshake and the first impression that you make representing both yourself and your well-respected brand. My best advice? Research you guest’s country and traditions regarding introductions and first meetings well-before this important visit.

Go ahead and showcase your leadership skills by becoming the culturally knowledgeable “go to” person on your property!

Excerpts of blog taken from the book: Hospitality Management – People Skills & Manners on and off the Job. Copyright © 2015 Lyn Pont, Ph.D.

— Isadore Sharp, chairman and founder, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

“Pont’s book is a must-read for anyone considering a career in hospitality.”

See the book at: www.HospitalityManners.com

Visit Lyn at: www.MannersForBusiness.com

#Culture, #Etiquette, #Protocol, #Manners, #Hospitality


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