David Cameron was in China last week talking up the prospect of Chinese visitors to the UK. China has the fastest growing outbound tourism market in the world, according to UNWTO. 100m Chinese are expected to travel abroad by 2020 and Visit Britain sees a big opportunity for the UK.
But the Chinese are not notably proficient at English. How do you overcome the language barrier at check-in? You can hardly have a Mandarin speaker at every hotel reception.
An interesting idea in China Daily recently: guests can be welcomed and allocated their room by a fluent Mandarin speaking assistant – only that the assistant won’t actually be in the hotel but in an operations centre in Shanghai or anywhere else in China. Kevin White of Asiawide Hospitality Solutions said that multi-lingual check-in machines are only a modest extension of the room management systems that already control services in many hotels today.
So there’s a welcome in cyber space…