How is your cultural awareness?

Last week was the “World Travel Market” in London when every nationality of the world descends on the city to promote their destination and find new customers and suppliers.. It’s a real melting pot and an exhausting show as the Excel centre heaves with people of all colours and costumes. The show was followed by 3 days living with the locals of Barcelona and conversing with my friends in a language that I’ve tried to master over the years, but it was definitely very rusty.

What strikes me is that the world has shrunk and ideas that were born in Barcelona are now being exported by colleagues into South America although language is sometimes a barrier to venturing beyond our home markets. However I have recently discovered a myriad of “Virtual PAs” that will help you to deal with the language barrier and new sites springing up to help companies to do business in new markets. I read a book recently called “The 4 hour work week” which was recommended by a friend which explained how we can tap into this resource of online virtual help anywhere in the world. I experimented with this a while ago with a mixed degree of success but have colleagues who have outsourced much of their research work to colleagues in Eastern Europe that they found online. We still hesitate to make those connections online unless we’ve had the opportunity to “eyeball” our potential colleagues and determine if the chemistry fits. The book “Blink” sums up our tendency to make split second decisions about people within seconds of meeting them, which may not always be correct.

Cultural differences can be huge and yet I was interested to learn from the Director of a hotel in Nicaragua that they ran a staff survey recently as to which nationality of visitors showed the most courtesy when travelling and top of the list were the Japanese, followed by the British and the Canadians took third place. So who can guess what impressions those World Travel Market Visitors took away with them about of the courtesy of the English and in what order we would score those visitors who descended on London last week?

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