Physical and Emotional Challenges Faced by International Guests

By Rita Anya Nara Author, The Anxious Traveler | May 11, 2014

The international guest is usually under more pressure than your average clientele to make the most out of every hour and day of their trip – and yet they're the most likely to feel exhausted, anxious, and just not up to their best. Things you don't even think of about your environment – humidity, subpar air quality, pollen counts, hours of sunlight per day, and others – can wreak havoc for someone who isn't used to them. And technological advances can't always ease things like culture shock, concerns about safety, and the anxiety that comes from not knowing how to get things done "just like at home." You don't have to play doctor, detective, or focus too closely on cultural differences to figure out how to make a globe-trotting guest more comfortable. Here are some recommendations for identifying and helping to address the international guest's most common mind-and-body hurdles.

Travel Fatigue

This condition, which is caused by a disruption in routine, a low-oxygen environment, and time spent in a cramped space (namely, all the things that characterize a long-distance flight) is not the same as jet lag. Guests suffering from travel fatigue tend to be "south-north" travelers – think of a guest from Buenos Aires coming to Houston, or from Johannesburg to London – and, with only two-three hours' difference in time zones, can't understand why they feel disoriented, woozy, and tired, yet not necessarily sleepy, or able to sleep. Many guests who suffer from travel fatigue (which usually goes away within 36 hours of check-in) feel too disjointed to do anything but simply lie down.

Your guests may be unaware of the effects of travel fatigue and blame their sleepless state of exhaustion on the quality of the bed, room temperature, small noises outside the door, etc. Simply asking where they're from and mentioning "travel fatigue" can help them understand why they don't feel like themselves – and reduce the chance of them requesting an unnecessary change to a perfectly restful room or suite. The best fix for travel fatigue is to simply wait it out and allow oneself to decompress – i.e., take it easy or find a relaxing distraction until he/she feels "human" again.

Allergies and Hay Fever

There are thousands of different plants, weeds, flowers, and trees growing and spreading their pollen or spores anywhere and everywhere we breathe. Many are found only in certain regions of the planet, and someone on a business trip or vacation is unlikely to know how they could react to "exotic" flora until they've checked into your hotel. Although hay fever and common allergies are usually accompanied by sneezing and sniffling, these symptoms aren't always present, and hay fever-induced hyperactivity or rapid heartbeat can be stressful to a guest who is otherwise healthy. If your guest looks to be in overall good health, and doesn't know why they don't feel well, hay fever may be to blame.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.