What you may consider to be neutral may be perceived as rude by someone else. And what you consider to be the right behaviour in a specific situation may cause eyebrows to be raised by people from another culture. Culture is a very powerful factor in encounters between people from different parts of the world, and therefore also in the encounters between our staff on board and the many Asian guests we are very happy to welcome every year.
“We service 135,000 guests from countries such as South Korea, China and Japan, and we expect numbers to grow in the years to come. Therefore we need to keep improving our cultural understanding of their way of interacting with us, so that we replace the risk of frustration with positive interest and satisfaction among our guests, as well as our staff who work hard to deliver a first-class service,” says Kim Heiberg, Route Director.
Cultural awareness training
And support is at hand: in recent months, 264 colleagues in the Cruise Route organisation participated in cultural awareness sessions facilitated by Véronique Havrehed and Emma Nordström from Training & Development. The focus was on main cultural dimensions, how cultural differences affect our behaviours, sharing best practices and on concrete actions to constantly improve our offers and services to our international guests.
“It was very well-received. Our colleagues working on shore in the port office and on board in the Guest Service Centre, accommodation, shops, restaurants and bars were all deeply engaged in the discussions, asking questions, sharing their experiences and discussing practical ways to improve communication and smooth interactions with guests of different nationalities,” says Emma.
The training was led by Véronique, who spent 17 years working and living in Asia, and has facilitated many training sessions on cross-cultural collaboration in her career. She was supported by Emma Nordström who has over three years’ experience of working on board Pearl Seaways and King Seaways, and has conducted leadership and service training for the cruise routes in recent years.