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How About An Ice Cold Stout?

Never, right? You’d quickly be on your way out of a pub if that was all they served. Thanks to Guinness Storehouse’s great ‘infotainment’ experience, millions of people the world over now know that the proper serving temperature of stout is 6-7 degrees centigrade. Cooler than room temperature, but never ice cold.

With ‘Irish Pubs’ being a popular export to places as far flung as Siberia and Mongolia, there is a great chance that you’ll be able to be served ‘just right’ when traveling almost anywhere in the world.  And nothing can be more welcoming than a proper pint to recover from what can sometimes be a disorienting experience – finding your way around in a foreign language, navigating unknown streets, digesting foods you’re not accustomed to, and generally trying to make sense of a different culture.

But are we aware of the traditions and expectations of foreign visitors to Ireland? As symbolic as a pint of stout is to Ireland, tea is to China. But serve tea at the wrong temperature, and Chinese visitors can be equally offended. Too high of a water temperature destroys the tea’s flavor, and too low won’t have let the flavor develop enough. The amount of tea poured is also significant. It’s better to not fill a cup of tea completely to the top, leaving plenty of room instead for ‘emotions’.

Culture Matters

While all this can be shrugged off as just something to drink, the attachment people from each country have to what’s in their glasses is rooted in a deeper cultural level. Culture, defined by Edward Taylor, includes ‘knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society’. A person’s ability to be aware of cultural differences and adjust their actions and behaviours accordingly is cultural awareness.

Cultural Awareness Training

Cultural awareness is a skill that can be learned. Everyone on the front lines of welcoming foreign visitors to Ireland should be constantly developing their cultural awareness. This makes the difference between providing simply a service, or creating a great customer experience – one that Chinese tourists will widelyshare on social media.

Benefits of Cultural Awareness Training

Cultural awareness training has many benefits, with two in particular listed below.

  • Cultural awareness training helps create solutions and strategies that develop better relationships.

Major hotel chains like Hilton and Hyatt have developed specific programs to make Chinese visitors feel particularly welcome. These include a round-the-clock interpreter service, in-room tea service, and offering traditional Chinese food and beverage options along with other cultural offerings.

  • Cultural awareness training enables you to manage your own and others’ cultural world views, and adapt accordingly.

With increased cultural awareness, hotel front desk staff can avoid putting Chinese guests in rooms on the fourth floor or in room number four. The number four in Chinese is considered bad luck as it has the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for death.

With Chinese tourists now representing the world’s biggest spenders and the world’s largest outbound tourism market, according to Hotel News Now, cultural awareness training enables hospitality and retail businesses to provide great customer experiences. Rather than serving up a topped up cup of tea that leaves an icy cold feeling, cultural training helps all staff ensure their interactions deliver a home-away-from-home experience.

Elizabeth Douet is a certified trainer, coach and digital consultant active in intercultural initiatives and platforms that connect people on a global scale.

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