Tuesday, 29 April 2008

InterCulture: China

Phone Booking of a Hotel Room
in a Chinese Metropolis
in the Year 2008

Guest Author: Thomas Hoefels

The following is a real life story, experienced by my partner Thomas Hoefels, some weeks ago. Conscious about the wonderful and charming character of this intercultural episode, he consented to have it published.

Thomas has over 25 years of experience in international tourism consulting. Yet, the incidence which surrounded his attempt of reserving a hotel room in a Chinese Metropolis did not fail to impress him deeply. Intercultural communication imposes certain hindrances -- but if you read to the bottom, you will see that all came to a good end.

(Ring, ring, ring……….)

Chinese words, presumably: hello?

It's Thomas speaking. I’m calling from Germany and would like to book a room at your hotel.

No book…

But this is a hotel?


And I would like to book a room with you.

No bookshop, this is hotel.

I would like to have a room.

Just a moment…

(Connecting to a colleague……)

Chinese words, presumably: hello?

I would like to book a room.

Your room number?

I don’t have a room number, I would like to visit you and need a room for one night.

A, B or C?


Block A, B or C?

I don’t know your blocks. I need a single room at a reasonable rate.

Block A is 315 including breakfast.

Very good. So I come March 30 and leave March 31.

No 30, it's 315.

I know this now, and I will pay 315. Please note that I arrive March 30 and leave March 31.

No! 315!

Can you give me your email address or your website address? I will write my request to you.

Wessigh? Amill?

No, your homepage or email.


(Connecting to a colleague……)

Chinese words, presumably: hello?

I would like to come to your hotel…


Can you confirm this in writing? Thomas from Germany, arrival at March 30 for one night.

Come! I write.

Can you please give me your fax number?

No fax, this is phone.

I know, but I would like to know your fax number.

Yes! (Silence……….)

Please, could you give me your fax number?


(Connecting to a colleague……)

Chinese words, presumably: hello?

Can you give me your fax number?

Just a moment….

Sil, sil eigh, sea…..


Sil, sil, eigh, sea….

I see, 0086, this is China. I know this, and I also know your city code. But I need your personal fax number. I would like to write a letter to you.

Personal? Letter?

Yes. Please, your fax number!

Eigh, lee, sea, figh, sea, yan…….

Thank you. I come!

(c) Thomas Hoefels 2008

Thomas Hoefels finally decided to arrive at the hotel as a walk-in without any bookings and documents. He was cordially welcomed by friendly people and enjoyed a splendid stay at the hotel.

And upon his check-out, he paid exactly 315, as this was agreed by phone with Thomas from Germany for a single room in block A from March 30 to 31.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

University Lecturing Assignment

The Tourism of the Future?

The University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig/ Wolfenbüttel is a renowned German institute for tourism and travel management. On the campus in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony, the Karl Scharfenberg faculty offers 4-year bachelor programmes where future tourism experts are educated and trained.

And for this summer semester, they offered me the position as a guest lecturer in tourism development – a privilege that I certainly had the pleasure accepting.

Under the title “Dubai: The Tourism of the Future?” I have been lecturing about the principles of tourism planning and development. The focus lieson the thriving tourism industry in the Middle East, with the example of the boomtown Dubai at the Arabian Gulf. These new destinations are analysed and assessed in the light of sustainable tourism, i.e. under economic, socio-cultural and environmental aspects.

The seminar is drawn up as an elective study course and forms part of the university’s regular curriculum. It comprises a total of 32 contact hours and includes a paper presentation as examination procedure. And last but not least: the entire lecture is held in English, a fact that made the course especially interesting for the internationally minded students at Salzgitter.

The scope and contents of the lecture include but are not limited to:
  • The Middle East: Countries, People, Attractions
  • The United Arab Emirates and Dubai
  • Tourism Planning and Development
  • Destination Dubai: Welcome to 21st Century Arabia
  • Tourism Projects and Prospects
  • Success Factors and Impacts
  • Sustainable Tourism Development
  • Intercultural Awareness and Competence

First feedbacks show that the paramount concept of combining theoretical knowledge with practical experience in an international environment is very much accepted by the students.

Furthermore, the interactive lecturing style makes it easy to follow and learn about principles in tourism planning and development. The use of English as the lecturing language is unanimously experienced as comfortable.

The answer of how much learning effect in critically assessing a tourism destination is finally reached will soon be given: the final examination assignment foresees the evaluation of a tourism destination in the Middle East against sustainability. Interesting countries like Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain are set to be analysed – and I will be looking forward to see the outcome.

For more information on the university and the tourism management courses, here is the website:

Karl Scharfenberg Faculty, FH Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel

Andreas Hauser

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Expatriate Assignments

Preparing for living abroad

Initially, the prospects leave little to be desired: “excellent location”, “booming industry”, “responsible position”, “career step”, “bonus & extras”. This is the wording that usually accompanies the proposal of an expatriate assignment in some far-away country. And most of it is certainly true.

Apart from the thrill of doing something out of the ordinary, there is a lot more to going abroad for a pre-defined period of time (usually two to three years) or even forever. Adapting to a new culture and work environment proves to be in most cases more demanding than originally perceived. But on the other hand, going through tough times also brings along interesting experiences, not at last about oneself.

Nowadays, an intercultural training to prepare for the foreignness of the new working and living environment should be a matter of course. The preparation for the “other” culture as well as a consciousness for one’s own action patterns should actually be a mandatory requirement by any manager or executive to his/her employer.

Additionally, there is a number of contractual things that should be taken into consideration before leaving home. While every country has different labour laws, some basic principles should be considered in a separate “expatriate assignment agreement”. They often constitute also the power of negotiation and the final mix should be aligned with the future expatriate’s individual requirements.
  • currency of payment (local – US$ – Euro)
  • mobility bonus hardship incentives (for special conditions)
  • rental payments health insurance (also for family members)
  • social security payments
  • substitute for family allowance
  • flights home (frequency and travel class, including family)
  • tax consultation
  • moving support
  • schooling fees
  • language training (also for the family)
  • return guarantee

In companies that frequently send their employees to work abroad, all of these issues can be expected to be dealt with in a proactive manner. However, should the expatriate assignment be a new field, it is very important to consider the various factors – negligence in this case could mean risking financial or labour disadvantages.

But no matter how tedious the preparations for going abroad turn out to be – when going with an open mind, the experience itself can be expected to be highly gratifying.

And one thing is for sure: it always ends up being a travel to one’s inner self.

Andreas Hauser

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Arabic Language

The Arabic Legacy in English

Little awareness exists in the mind of many Europeans as to the great past of a time called “The Caliphate”. Between the 7th and the 15th century, much of the Mediterranean as well as most of Spain was actually under Arab rule. In fact, it was a time of many scientific advancements – and a dominance that lasted for more than 700 years. Still today, the heritage of those times can be detected in everyday life.

Arabic as the language of those times has left its legacy on the present tongues in Europe and even across the Atlantic. While it is recognized that Spanish vocabulary hosts a number of expressions derived from Arabic (e.g. Andalusia stems from the time of “al-Andalus”), the impact on the English language is far less known.

However, there are quite some terms that can be clearly detected as the legacy of those times in the Middle Ages. The following lists provides a selected array of common English words, their Arabic roots and their original meanings:



Original Meaning


amir al-bahr

ruler of the sea






wine spirit












cane sugar

cipher / zero








philosopher’s stone



poor man









citrus fruit









embalmed corpse






head, origin









to drink







For those interested, Wikipedia provides yet a more exhaustive list of English words derived from Arabic.

Arabic Words in English

The vocabulary clearly shows the high level of education and scientific awareness that prevailed during the “Golden Age” of the Arab rule across Europe. But language was not the only area where a legacy can still be seen today: Andalusia, the former capital state of the Caliphate, is home to some of the most splendid and outstanding architectural marvels that exist in this World.

But that will be left for another time and another blog entry.

Andreas Hauser

Monday, 14 April 2008

World Records in Tourism

The World's Highest Fountain

Jeddah is the gatway to and the economic centre of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Its long-lasting history and its location on the coast have furthermore earned it the romantic byname "Bride of the Red Sea".

In an effort to stress this intimate connection between
urban structure and water, it is prominently presented in the city's main landmark: the water fountain of Jeddah is the world's highest.

The Jeddah Fountain at Sunset

Especially in arid and desert countries, water plays an important role as a crucial means of survival. To honour this precious element and to place an emblematic emphasis on the city's proximity to the sea, the fountain was built in the 1980s.

Under perfect wind and weather conditions, it tops out at an incredible 312 m. This is especially impressive when considering that the second highest fountain in Seoul/South Corea reaches a modest 202 m, while the Jet d'Eau in Geneva marks Europe's best with a mere 140 m.

The show opens every day around 5 p.m., when the water is pressed with a speed of 375 km/h up in the air. The regular northerly wind then disperses the water spray and creates an emblematic 'water curtain', visible from the air and from many points across the city. And at night, effective lightning produces a sense of serenity and beauty all along the coast.

The Illuminated Jeddah Fountain at Night

For those who are interested in the more technical aspects of the construction, there is very detailed article published by the regional Newspaper Arab News:

The Jeddah Fountain

And from my personal experience I can affirm that it is a truly wonderful and majestic sprectacle!

Andreas Hauser

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


Intercultural Training

Arab World and Latin America

It has taken a while, but now finally the time has come to announce the launch of my new webpage on the topic of Consulting, Management and Training in Intercultural Contexts:

With this latest web presence, I respond to the increasing demand for my intercultural trainings for Middle East and Latin America.
The importance of this issue cannot be underestimated, since it is to a suprisingly large extent responsible for the final success or failure of many projects.

Over the last months, I have experienced a strong growth in request for my services in the field of intercultural trainings and seminars. Recent feedbacks show that especially the combination of my on-site business experience as well as my personal motivation for the respective cultures is well received.

The authenticity that I convey by having stepped into many cultural pitfalls myself proves to be a very strong and beneficial asset. I do offer seminars for selected countries in all of which I have gained personal and professional experience with public and private sector institutions on a management level.

More information on the training concept and core elements for the cultural realms of the Arab World / Middle East and Latin America can be accessed on www.andreashauser.com:

Front Page of www.andreashauser.com

Being confronted with a foreign culture does not only have direct implications on daily work and life abroad. It is also highly interesting and exciting from a personal development point of view.

To illustrate this, I have put my understanding into the following words:




Please be invited to visit -- I will be looking forward to receiving both positive feedback and constructive criticism on my new website!

Andreas Hauser