I love to travel and have never met a country that I did not enjoy and whose people I did not learn from. My belief is that we must embrace the differences in all cultures and learn to enjoy them while we are visiting, while also taking some of the best characteristics home with us to incorporate into our own lives.
Travelling down the Rhine last month and visiting 4 distinct countries brought culture and lifestyle differences to the forefront.
Our German tour guide would not let the bus leave until she had counted the passengers 4 times and confirmed everyone had their seats belt on. She refused to let us walk on the grass and waited until everyone had arrived at a sight before she began speaking. No matter how slow the group was.
In France, our tour guide never once confirmed how many people were on the bus, nor whether we buckled up. Despite the fact that seat belts are the law in France. He moved quickly through his commentary, not caring if anyone could see what he was pointing at. When a small group of our tour complained that he was moving too fast, his response was “I don’t care!”
Being of both French and German descent myself I enjoyed both, but noted (and laughed at) the differences. The best example of cultural distinction on the trip, however, and the lesson for your business was in Switzerland:
- None of the churches had any sign of decay, graffiti, gum or defacement. Even in the bell towers, and despite being over 1000 years old. In Colmar France as a comparison, the stated attitude is that “decay is part of history”.
- The streets were pristine and buildings showed no sign of wear, dirt or dust.
- The canals were clean enough that people were waterskiing in them. Would you consider doing that in the Rideau Canal in Ottawa?
- The hotel shuttle pickups had a clearly marked “hotel bus” section at the airport completed with a posted schedule. For us, it was shown at 5:00 pm, 5:20 pm, 5:40 pm, etc. Compare this to North America where the shuttles will arrive “soon, somewhere in the centre island past the blue post.”
- The airline concierge met me at the gate and recognized me by name.
The lesson is this; you can offer a superior product and service. Just as there is nothing stopping any country from cleaning up their landmarks, and providing an easy welcome to visitors, there is nothing stopping you from making it easy to buy from you, picking up the phone on the first ring, following up with a customer in 24 hours, and ensuring delivery is correct the first time.
But, there has to be a willingness.
Dedicated to increasing your sales,