When it comes to making international travellers feel good, there’s nothing better than a familiar breakfast.
For years, European hotels wooed American tourists by
offering an American breakfast, consisting mainly of eggs, bacon, toast, oatmeal,
cornflakes, pancakes, juice and coffee. American hotels eager to court
Europeans rolled out the Continental breakfast of pastries, sliced meat, cheeses,
yogurt and coffee. They beckoned the Brits with a full English breakfast of porridge,
poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage and baked beans. The world
even said good morning to a big wave of Japanese tourists by placing miso soup,
rice, grilled fish and pickled vegetables on the breakfast menu.
Now it’s time to welcome the Chinese.
This week Hilton and Starwood launched major initiatives
aimed at wooing outbound Chinese travellers, widely expected to be the next wave
of global tourists.
The number of people travelling from China will reach
100 million by 2015, with 25 million going abroad for the first time each year,
Starwood hotels estimates. Most people will stick close to home, choosing Asian
destinations, but an increasing number are expected to head west. In 2010, 802,000
Chinese residents visited the US, a 53% increase over 2009. Latin America is also benefiting
from the rise in China’s outbound travel — Starwood reports several of its
largest Latin American hotels have seen visits from Chinese guests jump more
than 100% in the last year.
The new Hilton Huanying and Starwood
Personalized Travel programs aim to make Chinese tourists feel more welcome
by providing in-room teakettles (versus coffee makers), Chinese tea, instant
noodles and slippers. Participating hotels will be hiring more Chinese-speaking
front desk staff and adding Chinese language TV channels.
But the biggest focus for welcoming guests from China
seems to be around breakfast offerings. Participating Hilton hotels will offer
two types of congee (a thin rice
porridge that’s served sweet or savoury), fried rice, dim sum, fried dough
fritters, hard boiled eggs, tea and soy milk. Participating Starwood hotels
will add congee, rice, noodles and other common Chinese staples to restaurant
Next time you encounter a cross-cultural breakfast
offering, consider breaking through boundaries and trying something new. If you
are a Westerner, would you consider trying congee or grilled fish for
breakfast? If you are Asian, what do you think of oatmeal, eggs and toast? How
important is a familiar breakfast when you are travelling? Please leave your
comments on our Facebook page.
McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel