Sunday, May 17, 2009

Coffee or Tea?

I read in a book another traveler's experience of flying within my current continent of residence, an account of the welcoming hospitality that will always tell you what you want to hear. This traveler was flying on a local airline when approached by the flight attendant. "Would you like some coffee or tea ma'am?"

The traveler thought, why yes, that would be nice. "I'll take some coffee please."

"I'm sorry, we only have tea."

Makes perfect sense, right? Why offer it if you don't have it? Because people want the choice, it sounds better to offer it... ok, I really don't know why.

Last week, while visiting Zanzibar, we arrived at our hotel and were taking in the sights, smells, sounds, eagerly anticipating all that our vacation had ahead of us. The packet on the hotel we'd read had told us of two restaurants on-site. One a sports cafe with simple meals such as pizzas, sandwiches, etc. The other a finer dining restaurant. Our reservations had promised us a dinner on the beach at candlelight the first night, served through the main restaurant, and we were very excited about it. When we checked in, the manager at the desk gave us all that we needed to know. He pointed down the paths and gave us directions, straight to the pool, left to the cafe, and right to the restaurant. He even provided us with the times each place served every meal through the day.

When the sun went down, dinner time neared, we prepared ourselves and took a walk down the path to the restaurant. But we arrived to find an empty and dark building, with only a small sign in the middle next to a security guard, which proclaimed the restaurant to be closed for maintenance. We later found out that it was right in the middle of a 2-month closure! And yet still, our booking (put together specifically for this season, rates change monthly) included meals from said restaurant, the manager gave us directions to it and told us all of the standard meal times, and we had not a single indication that it was closed until we actually arrived!

Some parts of a different culture are just hard to get used to...

1 comment:

Kevin Eby said...

To remind you of some of the things about the culture you left behind...

About 15 years ago, on an airline that is no longer in business, I was greeted with a similar choice, "Orange Juice or Champagne?" to which I replied, "Could I have some Ginger Ale?". The response from the US Flight Attendant was, "If you could have Ginger Ale, I would have asked if you wanted Orange Juice, Champagne or Ginger Ale?"Anyone want to guess why this airline went out of business?