April 01st 2021

Multilingual Hospitality

The formula for business success is like fashion – subject to trends that swing from one extreme to another. Once upon a time, the mantra was ‘actions speak louder than words’; today managers and motivational speakers are preaching that ‘communication is the solvent of all problems’. In marketing circles, many still believe that ‘a good product sells itself’. So where does the Four Seasons stand in this debate? And how does it maintain the momentum of its success? The answer is: by doing it all.

Ticking all the boxes 
First, there is the ‘good product’ – an upmarket destination that renews itself continuously. Then there is the ‘action’ – a culture of offering a personalized service according to individual needs. But to trigger it all, you need healthy communication. It’s a process that starts with the hotel’s partners – the tour operators and travel agents around the world – and continues with the guests, before, during and even after their stay. 
Given that English has established itself internationally as the main language of business, our partners and guests from the UK and other English speaking countries have always enjoyed the benefits of communicating in their own language. German and French speaking staff members made guests from other European and francophone countries feel comfortable and welcome. And as ties between Cyprus and Russia become closer on various levels from business to trading and tourism, the Four Seasons is actively employing the skills of its Russian speaking team members to reinforce open and genuine communication with guests and partners from Russia and the CIS.

Open communication
Four Seasons Sales Manager Larysa Borgardt initiates the conversation. As a native Russian with 12 years of experience in this position at the hotel, she has a clear goal: “It’s a very different rapport when you can speak to someone in his own language. Working with everyone from the leading tour operators in Russia to small agents in remote destinations in the CIS regions, they all know that they can simply pick up the phone and contact me anytime, whether to discuss an important issue or ask about a detail – even the colour scheme of our guest rooms or if we can prepare a particular dish upon request.” 

Once all questions are answered, agreements are signed, and guests are booked into the hotel, Larysa briefs and discusses details with her frontline counterpart: Lana Perikleous. Also a native Russian speaker (who also speaks English, Greek and German), Lana is the hotel’s multilingual Guest Relations Officer, who takes the lead from Larysa and ensures that every guest enjoys the special attention and details as requested. She says: “I welcome our guests, circulate throughout the day and make sure to approach anyone that might need assistance, or simply to ask if everything is OK. Sometimes all it takes is eye contact for me to realize that one of our guests needs attention.” 

Creating a comfort zone
Despite their broader roles, the Larysa-Lana team are jokingly nicknamed the ‘Russian Connection’ which so many guests and business partners have come to trust and rely on. As they both say: “Our Russian partners know that we not only speak their language but also understand their culture, their market, and their expectations. They feel comfortable communicating with us openly and freely, and asking anything without hesitation. That in turn gives us the context and greater insights which allow us to offer guests all they could ever hope for. This level of satisfaction – among guests from around the world – is the basis of the Four Seasons’ remarkable rate of repeat guests, over 50%. 

With so many expatriates from Russia now integrated into the fabric of the Limassol community, the arrival of relatives, friends and business associates from their native country is not a random occurrence, but a steady flow; one that is always welcome at the Four Seasons