According to the U.S. Commerce Department, international visitors spent $13.9 billion traveling to and visiting the U.S. in September, which is a 4 percent increase over the previous record for the month, which was $13.4 billion in September 2011.
In addition, 66 million international travelers are projected to visit the United States this year alone. And, over the next five years, we will be seeing a large percentage of the international travelers coming from China, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, India, Australia and Venezuela.
As a result of this new rise in international travelers coming to the U.S., many in the hospitality sector will be embracing new strategies for attracting and catering to the needs of these unique guests.
Hoteliers should consider the following innovation and cultural strategies that could better meet the needs of these travelers:
- In-Room Macs Set to Yahoo! International ISP: When an international guest checks into their room, the in-room Macs should have their nation’s version of Yahoo! set as the home browser.
- Specialized Concierge Services: Hoteliers should consider unique cultural training programs for their front desk and concierge staff. This could include learning key phrases like “welcome” in each language to the more-subtler side of each culture. For example, most Spaniards would never drink water out of a plastic bottle and prefer all of their drinks in nice glasses.
- Understand Communications Preferences: Many cultures prefer to communicate in different ways. Where as the people of one nation tend to prefer texting, others may be more apt to use social networking platforms or even e-mail.
- Text-Communications in Native Languages: Hoteliers should consider sending updates to guest via text or email in their international guests’ native languages.
- Currency Exchange Services: Hoteliers may also want to consider offering in-lobby currency exchange kiosks, or have it built in as part of the front desk offering.
In addition, it’s all too easy to make a social gaffe that could offend an international traveler, all due to an unknown cultural difference. By fully understanding many of the unique traits of the cultures of this new wave of international guests, hoteliers can offer the types of services that can build major international brand loyalty.
A main driver of expanding international guest loyalty also falls right into the realm of technology. By embracing new guest innovations, which are completely customized for each international traveler, hoteliers can tap into this expanding market in new and unique ways.