You say Potato, I say Kartoffel….The Pitfalls and Privileges of Doing Business in an International Company

By: Sophie Talbot

I was recently at dinner with some friends, one of which has just come back from a trip overseas.  We started talking about how difficult it can be to navigate the tricky world of international customs and conventions.

 That got me thinking about stories from my travels with MICROS and the many international colleagues I’ve spent time with over the years.  I reached out to some global colleagues to come up with insight to share.

For instance did you know…

In India they impose a luxury tax, which is a tax calculated based on rack rate.  Also, a cow in the road will have priority over you or your car and the Chinese food in India is to die for.

In Monte Carlo, MICROS created a police interface which sends all guests’ passport and general information to the local police station,(legal requirement),  Also the pavements there are made of tile that is fit for most people’s bathrooms or patios.  If it rains, watch out!  The tiles turn into slip-n-slides and are especially hard to navigate in heels!

In Geneva’s fancy hotel district, don’t try to buy a pair of panty-hose unless you have saved up for a few months.  They are really expensive, even in what you think is the cheap, corner shop.

In Japan, it is rude to say “no”.  This can make for interesting installations.  My colleague also sent me these funny thoughts:

“Check your socks for holes.  At some point you can expect to present to an audience in your favourite batman socks you got for Christmas.  Check for signs of shoe removal on entering any office or restaurant.”

 “I bow, you bow, I bow more.  To bow lower than your recipient is displaying more respect.”

 In a large part of mainland Europe, when addressing a colleague, you should always start your email with a greeting like “Hi” or “Hello” before the person’s name.  For example, it should be written, “Hi Sophie”.  Just typing the name will be considered rude.

We, at MICROS, make our solutions fully translatable.  We have performed installations in over 180 countries around the globe and have catered to legal requirements and different character sets.  OPERA even has the functionality for alternate language name.  This way, international chains can have the ability to store the guest’s name in the local language, as well as English, so that hotels in countries that support that language can greet the guest appropriately.  This also prevents the central staff from confusion, with a character set that they don’t understand.

On a final note:  I am a Brit, transplanted to the US by way of Germany.  I was listening to the local Maryland news channel a couple of weeks ago, and I saw a segment on preparing for the London Olympics that made me think long and hard about our different cultures.  A very nice British gentleman, from Heathrow airport, was talking about how busy Closing Day will be at the airport.  He said, “there will be bums on every seat.”  The local TV anchors weren’t quite sure how to react to that, perhaps envisioning planes packed full of alcoholics or run-down homeless people.  I know “bums on seats” to a Brit is the same as “heads in beds”.

I almost wrote in to explain but then just smiled and thought how much fun it is sometimes to be separated by a common language.

In case anyone was wondering I say Tomato….:)

And many thanks to my world wide colleagues for sending in some great examples – who knows maybe we can do a follow up.

Find out more about what MICROS can do for you! For more information contact us at Phone: 866.287.4736 (US and Canada)

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