Tips for welcoming international travelers to your independent hotel

For many independent hotel operators, the warm weather and longer days of spring signal the beginning of their annual busy season.  Starting in April during spring break, but kicking into INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERShigh gear after Memorial Day in late May, tourists take to the roads and airways to enjoy some much needed fun in the sun.  This year, independent hoteliers will notice a growing number of international tourists who have traveled great distances to explore the great sights and attractions the United States has to offer.

During the first two months of 2015, 30.1 million international air passengers traveled to the U.S., a 6% year-over-year increase.  Air traffic from Europe was up 2%, Asia increased 4%, the Middle East rose 22% and air arrivals from China were up 60%.  As the numbers show, the U.S. is more popular than ever with foreign travelers, so independent hoteliers should view this as a great opportunity to capture new business, increase bookings and generate greater revenue.

Hosting international guests can present challenges for hotel operators, but here are a few tips for making the experience as smooth as possible:

Don’t get lost in translation
Language barriers are the most common challenges faced when welcoming foreign guests.  Unless the guests contact the hotel prior to arriving, it is difficult to know when these situations will occur, but here are a few resources hoteliers can rely on to prepare for these moments:

•    Google Translate: This online tool translates typed and handwritten (with mouse) text, so it’s a great resource if communicating verbally is a challenge.

•    Find a translator: Most universities have a foreign languages department, so establishing a relationship can be a great help to operators.  Having a foreign language student help with welcoming international guests can go a long way toward ensuring that they have a great on-property experience.

Safety first
For any international traveler, their passport is easily their most valuable possession, so when traveling abroad, deciding where to store their passport is always a tough decision.  Independent hotel operators can help alleviate some of this stress by equipping each guest room with a mounted safe or offering to store travel documents in a dedicated safe in their back office.  Some travelers will opt to carry their passports on their person, but they will appreciate the hotel providing a safe storage option.

Ability to adapt
Keeping a supply of multi-country power adapters/converters will not only be helpful for travelers, it may save independent hoteliers from costly repairs in the future.  The moment of truth for many international travelers is seeing what happens when they plug in their cell phone or hair dryer using their own adapter/converter.  All it takes is a wrong setting to over-power their small appliance, as well as damage guest room electrical outlets.  By keeping a set of tested multi-country power adapters/converters on-hand to loan foreign travelers, operators can eliminate a potentially expensive traveler mistake.

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