Cultural Differences in Hospitality Industry


Culture is a fairly broad concept, especially when it comes to relationships between people. It includes the understanding, goals, and values that we inherited from previous generations and passed on to future generations. Culture is shaped by a wide range of environmental factors such as climate, legal systems, religion, and languages. It forms an overall picture of norms and beliefs, which in turn influence individual behavior. The difference of cultures is experiencing a particular mixing in the tourism industry. There is a process of globalization of cultures. This process unites people into one large world community, where the same norms of behavior, beliefs, and etiquette work.

However, this process is not quick. It is, moreover, complicated by the current situation of the pandemic. Travel has decreased, and globalization has slowed down. Therefore, it is essential to notice cultural differences both in the hospitality industry, where the clash of different cultures most often occurs, and in everyday life. These ethical issues are especially relevant today. They concern the hotel business and any international organizations that have entered the continental and intercontinental levels. Nevertheless, it is the tourism industry that forms the multicultural environment, in which most interactions are between all possible representatives of different cultures. Employees of travel agencies and hospitality businesses must constantly be aware of the role and influence of culture on a person and how it can influence the behavior of tourists.

Oriental Cultures

Science is conducting many different works to identify cultural differences in the tourism industry. These works are necessary primarily for travel companies providing services. It is vital for Eastern cultures. For example, Reisinger and Turner compare five Asian language groups and Australian tourism services. The study showed that the satisfaction of Asian tourists, particularly the Japanese, depends not only on the quality and orientation of goods and services but also on sensitivity to the specifics of tourists’ cultural values and social norms of behavior. It is far from always that Asian tourists express their dissatisfaction explicitly. However, in work, a significant difference between cultures and, accordingly, the behavior was found in 62% of the studied territories of Australia (2002).

Asians also underwent an experiment in the United States that assessed the qualities of travel agency employees. These qualities were analyzed, which compared which of them are more critical for Asian tourists and Americans. Americans, unlike Asians, welcomed the condescending behavior of employees, not accommodating the methods of intimidation and requests. In turn, Asians preferred a calm conversation on an equal footing, without excessive flattery, but also not without activity, including self-promotion and supplication (Manzur & Jogaratnam, 2007).

The development of technology covers all business industries, and tourism is no exception. The recommender systems or augmented reality systems are used not only for the benefit of tourism purposes and missions but also for the same research in intercultural communication. For example, we analyzed the aesthetic and hedonistic characteristics of augmented reality applications between populations with contrasting cultural differences – South Korea and Ireland. Eastern culture was more susceptible to an augmented reality app’s social influences and hedonistic characteristics (Jung et al., 2018).

Quite often, as in the work described in the previous paragraph, the method of Hert Hofstede is used, to describe cultural aspects. This technique has proven itself exceptionally well and is used by many travel companies for recruiting and training. It includes cultural aspects such as power distance, uncertainty avoidance, degree of individualism, and masculinity. However, despite the popularity, more and more new models appear, using different approaches. For example, using a psychological point of view, scientists investigated the very phenomenon of hospitality. People in Iran, for example, were found to be more hospitable than in Singapore. The study was conducted using assessments of extraversion, complaisance, and a sense of belonging to a group. Hospitality was also associated with higher levels of well-being, such as optimism, psychosocial well-being, and positive impact (Biswas-Diener et al., 2019). Asian countries, again, have been compared to those in the United States.

Quite a lot of modern Asian scientific literature related to tourism is related to tourism risk and practical travel advice. They argue that the risk in tourism has always been present, which is an integral part of any, even a short trip. However, these days, current trends are directed towards the globalization of society, shifting the emphasis from cultural and other differences in favor of a more friendly space (Yang et al., 2018). The delicacy of the personal space of the representatives of Asian nations explains the trend in modern science.

It can be concluded that the representatives of the Asian continent show a high level of hospitality, and are always open to travel, new knowledge, impressions, and acquaintances. They need activity on the part of the interlocutor, and they willingly respond to this activity. However, at the same time, they clearly define their personal space, control risks, and value sincerity, even in business matters. The manifestation of the traits mentioned above is wildly contrasting compared to English-speaking cultures such as Australia, the USA, and the UK.

Western Cultures

One of the most critical factors in fostering intercultural respect and understanding is exchange programs during study or work and travel programs. Previously, such programs were opened most often in English-speaking countries, and people from all over the world participated in them. Now new promising directions are opening on the continents of Asia, South America, and even Africa. Intercultural sensitivity among business people who participated in such programs as students are significantly higher than among people without this experience. The statistics indicated an exciting detail – having such experience is more important than education in tourism (Yurur et al., 2021). The effect that develops intercultural communication affects not only people who have visited new countries but also people who have provided hospitality. Western European and American culture has given rise to such a trend, fostering international sensibility from a very young age.

The peculiarities of Western culture, which in recent centuries has been the trendsetter of both fashion for clothing and art and music, largely determine tourists’ behavior. In the scientific literature, the average Western tourist is also known in comparison with the Asian one. One study found an essential intercultural social difference. Asian tourists emphasize emotion and the effect of novelty and uniqueness, while Western tourists are much more pragmatic (Williams et al., 2017). Western tourists prefer to visit their favorite destination for the second time rather than risk discovering something new. Western tourists place relatively more emphasis on the practical measurement of value for money.

The smoothing and mixing of cultural traditions in Europe are due to such associations as the United Kingdom and the European Union. The visa-free regime allows tourists to travel among different countries with different cultures. It creates stronger relationships between representatives of different cultures, who are the creators of a new, larger culture within these associations. In addition, intercultural sensitivity is fostered in large countries in which many different nationalities live. These countries include the United States and Russia. However, history has laid down a wide variety of cultural traits that characterize Western tourists in a given nation. For example, the Greek staff does not tolerate uncertainty, while the Italian is quite self-righteous. The paper also notes that today’s world is more dynamic than ever. The assessment of intercultural communication requires new approaches due to the obsolescence of the cultural aspects of Hofstede and other models currently in use (Walters et al., 2021).

Another vital aspect to better understanding the culture of Western tourism is language. Romance languages are similar, and learning within a group is simplified, which better holds cultural interaction. Due to their history, other language groups are more common on other continents, making such destinations more attractive for tourists. One study assessed the importance of language for people from various Western cultures. In particular, the language experience seems to be more important for tourists who emphasize the role of their mother tongue (Italian and French) than for tourists who are more open to using other languages such as German and Portuguese. (De Carlos et al., 2019).

The essential research in the field of the hotel industry has obtained results that reflect the national aspects of the psychological aspects of employees of different cultures. In particular, the model developed by a group of scientists assessed the correlation between humor, aggression, and attachment to work. Aggressive humor was better adapted to the American workforce, while Chinese employees needed more welcoming humor to boost confidence despite the collectivism of Chinese culture (Chen, 2017). A comprehensive assessment of all participants in intercultural communication will make it possible to determine the norms of behavior for employees more accurately and, at the same time, for tourists visiting a particular country. Therefore, such studies concerning the basic and standard psychological aspects are essential for both sides of the cultural dialogue.

In the United States, the hospitality industry often provides jobs for Hispanics. Another study aimed at assessing employee satisfaction evaluated comments in two languages – English and Spanish. Hispanic employees were more emotional and paid attention to working conditions hardly seen in English comments (Young, & Gavade, 2018). Such studies make it possible to understand better Latin Americans’ mentality in the science of tourist hospitality and create a specific layer for social and economic research.

The culture of Latin America deserves a separate chapter, but current trends in tourism will limit this work. A new direction of recreation has recently appeared when a tourist on vacation is looking for a job in another city or country. Even though this approach is contrary to the usual essence of vacation, it gains popularity among Hispanics (Shaheer et al., 2021). They often choose New Zealand for such vacations. Such an unusual, at first glance, the crossing of cultures can be explained by the mentality of Hispanics, whose countries cannot be called developed, and they do not miss the opportunity to feed their families even on vacation. In addition, the United States is a popular livelihood destination, while New Zealand is also an English-speaking country with a much more familiar climate for Hispanics. In addition, working on vacation provides no less valuable experience of intercultural communication than the usual stay in hotels and restaurants in any other city. The work contains much more communication and cultural expressions, through which the process of cognition of a person of another culture is accelerated several times.

It can be concluded that all conditions for traveling within their country or continent have been created for the Western tourist. Often, such a tourist is content with well-known destinations, preferring to repeat the trip he likes rather than choosing something new. There are many points for lovers of distant destinations where the tourist does not have to use a language unfamiliar to him. European and American hospitality is often devoid of that emotionality and uniqueness that is inherent in Eastern culture. However, norms of behavior and social responsibility are better centered and, for the most part, coincide from nationality to nationality.


It is impossible to say with certainty which nations have developed intercultural sensitivity. It is important to note that it is necessary to maintain a friendly atmosphere anywhere in the world. Hospitality and travel industry employees are not alone in developing this trait. The code of conduct for tourists themselves and ordinary residents with whom tourists come in contact in the guest city also creates a particular layer of international relations. The general impression about the country, about the people in certain countries depends on such interactions based on the impression that the tourist created from the employee or resident. To avoid negative or mistaken attitudes, people need to gain more experience in intercultural communication. Studies show that this experience cannot be replaced by education or additional training. Cultures of hospitality and behavior should strive to create a global friendly space while not losing their fundamental differences, not losing charm and interest in the eyes of future tourists.


Biswas-Diener, R., Kushlev, K., Su, R., Goodman, F., Kashdan, T., & Diener, E. (2019). Assessing and understanding hospitality: The Brief Hospitality Scale. International Journal of Wellbeing, 9(2).

Chen, H. (2017). Workplace Humor and Job Embeddedness: A Cross-National Study between Chinese and US Hospitality Employees.

De Carlos, P., Alén, E., Pérez-González, A., & Figueroa, B. (2019). Cultural differences, language attitudes and tourist satisfaction: a study in the Barcelona hotel sector. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 40(2), 133-147.

Jung, T. H., Lee, H., Chung, N., & tom Dieck, M. C. (2018). Cross-cultural differences in adopting mobile augmented reality at cultural heritage tourism sites. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

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Walters, G., Huck, L., Robinson, R. N., & Stettler, J. (2021). Commercial hospitality in tourism: A global comparison of what culturally matters. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 95, 102939.

Williams, P., Soutar, G., Ashill, N. J., & Naumann, E. (2017). Value drivers and adventure tourism: A comparative analysis of Japanese and Western consumers. Journal of Service Theory and Practice.

Yang, E. C. L., Khoo-Lattimore, C., & Arcodia, C. (2018). Constructing space and self through risk taking: A case of Asian solo female travelers. Journal of Travel Research, 57(2), 260-272.

Young, L. M., & Gavade, S. R. (2018). Translating emotional insights from hospitality employees’ comments. International Hospitality Review.

Yurur, S., Koc, E., Taskin, C., & Boz, H. (2021). Factors influencing intercultural sensitivity of hospitality employees. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 22(1), 26-44.

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