Hotels – lost in translation. Lets enjoy languages.
Everybody wants to be understood so multi lingual is a guest expectation when it comes to hotels. That requires sometimes translations and sometimes translators. And here it often gets funny. We all have our own experiences.
Be careful with the Nazis!
My favourite was once a guest from the other side of the Atlantic who most properly was already suspicious of a German General Manager, an Austrian Chef and another German as Restaurant Manager. And that in the middle of Europe!
He of course complained the moment he was proofed right reading the Lunch menu one day when it had “Nazi Goering” as dish listed. Okay it was actually written as “Nasi Goreng” but this couldn’t fool this Gentleman. He claimed that he knew history and Field Marshall Goering as head of the Luftwaffe during the Nazi time was clearly listed on the menu. A clear case of Management making fun of their guests! We actually couldn’t convince him of the Indonesian origin of the dish and accepted the complain. Who are we to know better?
China has his share of entertaining translations and we need to be thankful that all this translation programs nowadays help us get much better through life. Reminds me of the guest who came one day and complaint about bed bug bites. It looked to me like a mosquito bite but the guest insisted on bed bugs. Why? “That’s what your Doctor told us”. Put me in a bad situation. When I checked with my Chinese Assistance he explained to me that this were really Mosquito bites but the only English Insect name the Doctor knew – and used was - bed bugs. Thanks for that one !
Sometimes it is also a cultural misunderstanding.
With my bad knowledge of Russian I was puzzled by reading a street sign on a ten (10) lane highway that ask people not to park and stop on the middle lanes. Clearly my Russian was not good enough. Who would stop there? After years of driving in Russia this signs still exist and they make sense. I have seen enough cars stopped in the middle lanes of highways often just to clean the window or fill up some liquid or oil.
Sewage or suicide?
One guest complained at the reception to a German manager who’s English was not good about the sewage smell in the room. The Manager knew nothing of this word but concluded that suicide is the word to discuss. After a short frustrating conversation for the guest were sewage and suicide was used in equal amounts the guest gave up with the final remark that he was now seriously considering suicide himself.
Let’s continue learning languages.
Stephan Busch earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA and is Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality.
Stephan Busch has an invaluable and diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.