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Many people may wonder: how does diversity affect the hospitality industry? As traveling becomes easier and more accessible for everyone due to the rise of the internet, low-cost airlines and a diverse range of hotel offerings, the cultural paradigm is shifting. With this shift comes the duty of hoteliers and staff to be sensitive to cultural differences when dealing with clients from unique backgrounds.
In this article we will look at what cultural diversity is, how it affects the industry, its benefits, and how to manage a diverse workforce.
What is cultural diversity?
Cultural diversity is the understanding and acceptance of different people’s way of life due to their sexual orientation, gender, upbringing, socio-economic and religious background. Because culture encapsulates so many areas of what makes a person who they are, it’s key to recognize and celebrate these differences in order to have a more harmonious experience in the hospitality industry.
By acknowledging that everyone comes from a different experience, and that this will affect how they interpret and react to different situations both positively and negatively, you can create an environment in your hotel that safeguards these differences.
How does cultural diversity affect the hospitality industry?
Cultural diversity affects the hospitality industry from the time a hotel is conceived. When you are creating a hotel in a country that has a distinct culture, it’s important to be sensitive to these differences and incorporate elements that are important to each society.
For example, if you are building a hotel in Italy, it is paramount to include a bidet in the bathroom as Italians have the custom of using the bidet on a daily basis, sometimes even in place of a shower. Or in Japan, it is customary to take your shoes off when you go into a room, so if you’re building a hotel in Japan, you might consider incorporating a shoes-off policy inside the rooms.
It’s also ideal to have a property management system in place that will help you better understand who your guest is and adapt to their needs. If you have a lot of guests from a tech-savvy culture like Japan who are used to using technology in their everyday lives, you can use a self-service kiosk and a virtual assistant who will make them feel more at home and avoid the language barrier of your front desk staff not speaking Japanese.
What are the benefits of cultural diversity in hotels?
There are many benefits to cultural diversity in hotels, so let’s take a look one by one.
Bring different perspectives to the hotel
Having guests and staff from different backgrounds brings diverse perspectives to your hotel, allowing for a convergence of different ideas and a wonderful way to create connections. Differences spark curiosity and represent a great way for both guests and staff to interact and learn new ways of doing things.
By hosting guests from different backgrounds, you make your hotel experience richer and more interesting because at the end of the day, one of the key motivations people travel is to experience different cultures.
Improved customer service
By having a culturally diverse team, you’re able to better attend to different types of guests, no matter where they come from. Facilitating cross-cultural communication and fully understanding that each guest’s needs and ways of communicating are unique depending on where they come from, you can gain an edge over the competition.
An example of this edge could be in the case of tight-knit religious communities where word-of-mouth is a strong force. When someone from one of these communities has a positive experience at your hotel, they are more likely to recommend it to a friend and to turn into repeat guests.
The chance to innovate
Innovation is driven by different perspectives and by having staff and guests from diverse backgrounds, you’re more likely to inspire innovation. That could be by offering products and services that are popular in other countries which haven’t yet made it to the country where your hotel is located, or by integrating amenities that for one culture might not be a necessity but are for others.
Better market segmentation
By having a diverse staff, you can also serve a more diverse population. That means you can have a better market segmentation because you can better understand their pain points and address their needs so that you can reach a wider audience, adapting your services and products to the market demands.
How to manage a diverse workforce?
Managing a diverse workforce is not easy, but it’s key to a more effective operation and providing a high level of service. In order to successfully manage a diverse team, It’s important to establish policies that promote inclusivity, setting up regular training, and reinforcing the importance of acceptance in daily staff meetings.
You may even consider promoting intercultural awareness by having staff members share their own experiences and traditions. If it’s the holiday time, you could even organize a dinner where each staff member brings a traditional holiday dish, which is a great way to celebrate differences.
Part of managing a diverse workforce is playing an active role in making sure that not only your staff but also your leadership is aware of the importance of diversity in your organization, knowing that if anyone is disrespected, they have a place to go or someone they can talk to and there is a protocol in place to handle such a situation.
Diversity can apply not only to customers, but also to staff, which is why it’s so important to incorporate acceptance into your hotel’s modus operandi. In fact, it’s a key part of managing a successful hotel staff and ensures they are prepared to handle any kind of situation that they are faced with, no matter where the guest comes from.
In this article we’ve looked at what cultural diversity is, why it’s important in the hospitality industry and how to manage a diverse team. Because the hotel industry is by nature multicultural, it’s key to have staff that’s trained in how to best manage these differences and to promote an environment that nurtures this multiculturalism.
When handled right, these differences can be one of the greatest strengths in the hospitality industry, and creates an environment where diversity can be celebrated. It also unlocks the key to a unique experience, the chance to innovate, and to differentiate your hotel from the competition.
Eva has over a decade of international experience in marketing, communication, events and digital marketing. When she's not at work, she's probably surfing, dancing, or exploring the world.
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Mews Data Dive 2023