#AWarmerWelcome: The True Spirit of Hospitality

What’s one of the biggest worries people have when traveling? 

Hint: It stops more than 30% of travelers from embracing new and different destinations and accommodations.

Booking.com surveyed 20,500 global travelers about various travel topics, including travel ambitions, trip planning habits and biggest fears. Nearly 30% of the people surveyed agreed that one of their biggest worries while traveling was the language barrier, and that this communication worry can even stop them from booking unknown accommodations or a vacation in an exotic locale.

When asked what would remove those travel anxieties, one in five said that language skills would make the difference. If they were sure they would be able to ask questions at their hotel or order their favorite foods, aspiring travelers claimed they’d be more likely to book a new destination.

Booking.com saw the opportunity to partner with a translation tech company in order to ease client woes and increase bookings. They teamed up with an offline translation device called ili, to “help travelers to overcome their travel concerns around language.”

According to ili, their device can translate your words offline, and can be used as a communication aid when you’re trying to ask for directions, food, shop or ask for recommendations. These types of Apps are very helpful for day to day activities, but in terms of making real connections, there’s still no substitute for conversation in your native tongue.

Apex Hotels, from the United Kingdom, compiled their own survey of 2,500 former customers, to see what they could do to improve their services and guest experience.

This was the cornerstone of a new campaign entitled #WarmerWelcome. Logically, one of the survey questions asked respondents what the phrase ‘warmer welcome’ meant to them.

A surprising 49% of the survey group said that Warmer Welcome meant being greeted in their native language while traveling.  Apex immediately set out to equip their staff with the appropriate language skills to improve their guests’ experience. They pledged to ensure their front of house teams are capable to greeting visitors in ten of the most commonly spoken guest languages. Concierge and reception staff are being trained in key phrases in languages such as Mandarin, Portuguese and Italian to make their guests feel even more at home upon arrival.

It’s not enough to just speak a language – the quality of your staff’s vernacular and their word and phrase choice can affect a guest’s perception of the hotel. Hotel staff needs to be trained in “the language of hospitality.” While non-native speaking staff might not realize the difference, the guests who are hearing phrases in their native tongue definitely will.

To provide an absolutely stellar guest experience, ” it’s important to help your hospitality and guest contact staff to choose their words carefully when interacting with guests, prospects, and even their “internal” customers from other departments,” explains Doug Kennedy, a language training expert in the hospitality industry.

Even in an industry where multilingualism seems like an obvious necessity, language skills are underrated, or worse, language programs are underfunded. It ends up with missed opportunities or unsatisfied guests. Smart hotel owners should be providing language training, and testing should be part of hotel staff’s training and ongoing education programs. “It’s my pleasure,” “You’re very welcome” and “we’re so happy to have you as our guest” go a long way towards guest happiness!

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