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Cross-country Differences in Hotel Guest Satisfaction: #LostinTranslation

September 26, 2014

My intercultural experience from the hotel sector started out during my college years, where I worked as room service and night porter for a couple of years. Our guests came from all over the world and had different expectations as to what was good customer service. Scandinavians preferred to be allowed to take care of themselves. Eastern Europeans wanted to be served. Very different expectations had to be accommodated.

Later, I experienced how cleaning staff at US hotels leave my belongings in the exact spot where I left them, even after having cleaned. Whereas in India, my belongings are nicely placed in the “right” place – at the desk or in the bathroom. They have different perspectives on space, privacy and customer service.

Research done by Gina Pingitore, Weihua Huang, and Stuart Greif, from Cornell Hospitality emphasizes the importance of providing staff with intercultural training. Their findings

underscore the importance of staff training to delineate the differences in cultural preferences of guests from various countries. The need for such training becomes more pronounced for hotels with a large mix of international guests. Hotels need to ensure that they adapt their services to avoid procedures or practices that optimize the experience for some guests but inadvertently undermine the experience for others. It may be desirable for a property to set service guidelines by country of origin that target the largest or the most financially important cultural groups of guests.

In other words, culture makes a difference in whether guests are satisfied.

With Dubai being: 85% expats from all over the world, a constant influx of tourists, and companies using Dubai as a business hub — this topic is of critical relevance for the success of the hospitality industry in Dubai.

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