Workers and Guests Have Different Language Needs in a Hotel:
1. Some Workers Say Little to Guests: housekeepers, gardeners, maintenance, shuttle drivers
Click for Hotel Lesson 1.
- These need a few words to be polite and answer simple questions from guests, "Where is...," "When is..." They need Numbers, Time, and Hotel Lesson 1.
2. Guests who stay in a hotel which does not know the guest's language: for example Brazilians in Russia, India or China
- These need Hotel Guests and Hotel Lesson 1 to arrive, enjoy themselves, and leave. They need Numbers and Time to understand answers to their questions. Guests can book reservations in their own language, since they can use translated email, a website, or an agency. They have guidebooks in their own languages explaining specialized terms like suite or king size.
3. Some Workers Have Detailed Conversations with guests: front desk, telephone, concierge
Click for Hotel Lesson 2.
- These need to understand a range of sentences on checking in, money, rooms, complaints, and getting around the area. They would benefit from all the lessons here. They especially need Numbers, Time, Alphabet (for spelling names), Telephone, Hotel 1 and Hotel 2. "[M]ost of the utterances are short, direct and purpose-driven. They rarely consist of more than one clause, and ... are mostly based on or influenced by what guests say. Such responses are, for the most part, strictly functional." ("Hospitality language as a professional skill" 2003 p.80)
- The front desk and concierge also need a translator App on a tablet (Apple, Android or Windows). They will use it when a guest goes beyond the worker's language abilities. The App needs to display alternate keyboards to let the guest type in the guest's own language and alphabet, which the App will translate to the hotel worker, and it will translate the worker's answers. Voice translation is a good feature, but typing will also be needed when the App misunderstands a voice.
4. Restaurant Waiters
Click for Restaurant Lesson
- Waiters need to understand special requests and common questions, which are taught here. Waiters also need to speak and understand the entire menu, which varies and cannot be taught here. The restaurant can translate the menu with Google or Bing into common languages of the guests, and the guests will feel more welcome.
5. Foreign managers who supervise local workers
- These need intermediate skills in the local language. They can use the best courses in the List of Language Courses.
Groups 1-4 need to speak in very simple words, because many people they talk to have limited English vocabulary (think of desk clerks in Russia or China talking in English to guests from Indonesia or Arabia).
Most websites and books which teach English for hotels cover a difficult mixture of the topics above. So it is hard for each group to learn what they need. Websites and books often start with making a reservation or booking by phone, one of the most advanced tasks because of poor phone connections, and rarely needed when people use translation sites on the internet.
Hotels and Travelers: Top 16 Countries
Travelers come from everywhere and go everywhere. They need people who speak their language.
FOREIGN TRIPS (Overnight, most recent year available in 2008-2012)
876,000,000 World Total, by Origin of Traveler:
85,000,000 Hong Kong, China
58,000,000 United States
19,000,000 Saudi Arabia
18,000,000 Japan (all trips; most are overnight)
There are 876 million overnight tourist trips per year (UNWTO Factbook, Outbound table 3.2). Numbers include trips between Hong Kong and the rest of China.
Most of these travelers use hotels and need help in their own languages.
ROOMS IN HOTELS (2011-2012)
Rooms Average Rooms Per Hotel
21,170,000 41 World Total
4,900,000 93 United States
1,500,000 132 China
1,370,000 27 Japan
1,100,000 32 Italy
950,000 27 Germany
900,000 47 Spain
660,000 37 Mexico
650,000 17 Britain
620,000 36 France
530,000 NA Thailand
410,000 25 Indonesia
400,000 41 Greece
400,000 40 Brazil
330,000 117 Turkey
290,000 22 Austria
260,000 33 Russia
There are 21 million rooms (UNWTO Factbook, Accommodation tables 4.13-4.14). Numbers include motels, guest houses, vacation rentals and hostels.
Many hotels are small (average 41 rooms), so they need the simplest possible training for their workers.