The Swiss society for hotel management recently asked us to hold workshops and talks for a seminar on how to deal with hotel guests/customers with special needs, cultures and languages. Our part was about Muslim hotel guests. Most of the topics covered here, were questions asked by the coordinators.
First of all
They are your customers like everyone else
Irrespective of their language, beliefs and background, this holds true for all hotel guests, including Muslims. They should be dealt with as every other guest or part of the society, without any distinction. Many will appreciate it!
Inform your guests, that you have arrangements for special requirements, including for Muslims and if they need anything further, the guest relation desk may be of help, Use the Hotel TV channels to inform the guests of the availability of these services.
If you don’t have the facility of the information channel, use pamphlets in English language, making the guests aware of the special requirements services available at your hotel.
Language: to make it simple, keep to English and offer to have assistance in other languages, if they are available at your hotel.
Let it be their matter, to understand and practice Islam
Even if you are being taught the “How to’s” to deal with Muslims, don’t impose your knowledge on them. They may want to be discrete, not disclose their religion and no one likes to be told, what they ought to be doing according to their religion. Leave it to them to interpret it!
In Europe customers and guests are welcomed by shaking hands, which is not followed by all cultures and countries. Like Christians, Muslims are almost all over the world and their customs vary. While a Muslim from Eastern Europe may shake hands, the Indonesian may bow infront of you slightly with both hands folded onto each other.
How should you greet them?
Greet them with a smile and wait for their gesture! You may recall, that the good European society also taught their young sons, to wait for the lady to offer her hand to be taken and greeted and not to impose it upon her.
Muslims pray 5 times a day facing towards Mecca, which from Europe is south East. This could be included in the information pamphlet or the Hotel TV channel, mentioned above. Washable praying carpets could be arranged for and put in a drawer of the room. Slippers for the bathroom usually are already there, in the good hotels.
If you arrange for some welcome drinks or bites, it is advisable not to serve alcohol or any food with alcohol or ham in it. Chocolates without alcohol and fruit are always safe. However if specifically requested, then have the alcohol served, without questions asked.
How to serve at the table
There are traditions from different regions, e.g. in the South East Asia the society is matriarchal. Thus, the mother is served first. In other countries the honourable guest is served first and then to the right, and again other regions have the father of the house served first; it is his choise if he wants pass on this right to his wife, as I know it from my father. You coud inquire the guests, how they wish to be served.
Picking up service
It is preferable that same-gender personnel performs these duties.
Again, same-gender service would be preferable
Service at the Spa
Again same gender facilities are highly preferred
Anything else to remember
– Discretion! Even if you see and hear the most absurd!
As Muslim travellers, what would be your requirements to hotel managements?
Have you had experience with hotels providing special services to your requirements? Were you satisfied?
What can be improved?