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Mandarin menus and no rooms with a 4: Spain's hotels target Chinese

06/08/2015| 7:10:15 AM| 中文

Fourteen hotels in Spain have been rated Chinese-friendly, hoping to cater to some of the 300,000 Chinese expected to visit Spain this year

With 300,000 Chinese tourists expected to visit Spain this year and a million by the end of the decade, hotels are rushing to adapt in order to receive a “Chinese-friendly” stamp of approval.

“It’s paradoxical that Spain, the biggest tourist destination after France and the United States, is practically unknown in China,” said Kurt Grötsch, chief executive of Chinese Friendly International, whose endorsement is recognised in all 28 EU member states. The World Tourism Organisation estimates that 100 million Chinese will leave their country on holiday this year.

Among the adjustments hoteliers need to make is to never give a Chinese visitor a room with the number four in it, nor one on the fourth floor. In Mandarin the number four sounds so similar to the word for death that Chinese go to great lengths to avoid saying it.

There should be no physical contact when greeting guests, and the hotel’s visiting card should be presented with both hands. The restaurant menu and other hotel information should be offered in Mandarin, fruit should always be served in portions, never whole. Hot water should be served with meals, especially if the guests have ordered meat, and all rooms should have a kettle, even though guests often use them to cook noodles.

Furthermore, waiters should remember to serve the eldest or the most highly educated person first. They should never point with the finger, only with the hand.

“Word of mouth counts for a lot in China,” said Grötsch. “If a Chinese enjoys themselves somewhere, more will come. Often you can become Chinese-friendly without any great investment.”

He recommends that waiters learn a few basic phrases in Mandarin, such as asking diners whether they’ve enjoyed their meal.

Currently, 14 hotels in Spain have been rated Chinese-friendly. “Being rated Chinese-friendly by a recognised association is a big help in dealing with Chinese companies and positioning ourselves in an emerging market,” said Alex Rodríguez, marketing director of the Vincci hotel chain. The company’s five-star hotel in Málaga has acquired the rating and the chain may soon seek approval for its three Barcelona hotels.

Grötsch admitted that the Chinese were not always the most popular guests, especially those travelling abroad for the first time. “They can be rude, people see them as arrogant, they talk loud and smoke like chimneys in non-smoking areas.”

One Barcelona hotel that has been approved as Chinese-friendly since 2013 no longer wants to be associated with this type of tourism as it drives away other visitors. Germans, in particular, are inclined to cancel their reservation if they know there will be Chinese in the hotel, a hotel spokesman claimed.

However, the Chinese government is anxious to create a good impression and has drawn up a blacklist of citizens who behave badly abroad. People found guilty of antisocial behaviour, vandalism, gambling or going to strip clubs will be placed on the list for two years and will face additional, unspecified punishments.

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TAGS: Spain | Chinese friendly | tourism
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