The array of destinations provided a nearly a full view of developed life in China. Beijing was a fast city with a lot to offer. Packed into it's city walls are traditional & international attractions that interest nearly all tourists in China. Xi'an seemed to be feuding with itself. Half of the city was developed with tourist products & business centers, while the other half still carried that simple life feeling. This city has a lot to offer in tradition, but had plenty of room for modernity. Hangzhou and Suzhou felt like sisters. Full of greenery and religious sights, these two cities are perfect holiday locations for tourists looking to relax. They carried the feeling of a small town, but with the resources of a major city. Shanghai was, in my opinion, the least special city out of the five. Shanghai doesn't feel like China. This city was too infested with Western products and people. Tradition is hard to grasp on to here because it has been built over with skyscrapers.
I could hear my stomach over the electronic music playing in Tomorrowland. Four hours had passed from the time we had gotten into Shanghai Disneyland and still not much was accomplished. In an effort to secure what little time we had to attractions, quick service meals were the answer. Walking around the park there were a lot of smells. Not the familiar scent of turkey legs. Instead it was sickly sweet caramel corn. This play on my senses wasn't appreciated by my monstrously loud stomach. Quickly we walked by a familiar looking restaurant. In Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, there is a flat bread pizza restaurant that is themed to fit into the story of Pinocchio. This restaurant had the same theme and similar menu. They offered Mickey-shaped pizzas that were cute to photograph, familiar, and even yummier to eat. Theme park food can be so displeasing for the price, but this much appreciated break from Chinese food was perfect for our "magical" afternoon.
22 June 2017
Proper tourism holds a promise of responsibility. This responsibility is to the local people, the consumer, the environment, and most of all, the product itself. Tourism products often derive from culture. Protecting it comes along with this liability. Culture can be guarded through acts that oppose gentrification & commercial invasion. Denying this responsibility is an easy and quick way to destroy the success and authenticity of the product. Tourism stakeholders are not just responsible for the security of culture, they need to be aware of the continuation of said culture. How will their impact guide the product? Stakeholders need to be sure not to allow the appropriation or re-branding of culture to appeal to consumers. Packaging cultural products and handing them out to anyone waving around yuan will certainly damage the extension of Chinese culture. Providing an understanding and allowing locals to educate foreigners about their product will encourage cultural prosperity.
Western China is still very agrarian. Their traditional values have been set over thousands of years. However, the continuation of this stagnancy has be encouraged by the limit of infrastructure in these areas. There isn't enough resources in the West to harbor a large tourist scene. Without easy transportation access and basic technology/communication features, this area cannot grow. Especially for China's large business-travel market, there is no place for West China as a practical tourist destination decision as of now. There is also a huge difference between East and West China. Differences can be found in social class, salaries and wages, technology, education, and opportunity. These polar distinctions further isolate the West of China from the East as a destination. Hospitality scholars of China are working to fix these Western financial problems by marketing and managing West China as a prominent tourist location.
21 June 2017
Having traveled in China for almost three weeks now, I have experienced both positive and negative interactions with other tourists. Unfortunately, as we know in our field of interest, it's the negative experiences that house the biggest impact. A disappointing behavior I have noticed are the implications other tourists have about us. Condescending remarks about being American have been made around me. It's offensive when people act surprised that I can use chopsticks & patronize the what I have been learning in China. It's very infuriating when you can't speak for yourself. An easy fix is to recommend that tour guides behave in a globally appropriate way, void of encouraging stereotypes. Sometimes the best way to know how to act is by example. Tour guides can also encourage travelers to fully immerse themselves in the country they are traveling to. Discouraging visits to comforting Western restaurants and attractions will curb this problem.
Truthfully, I was one of the masses that took the brief chance to rest on the bus. I only listened with one ear to Jeff's story about ping pong diplomacy. After learning more about the discussion he was giving, I wish I would have shown I was listening with more than two ears. The story begins with an American traveler who joined the wrong bus. The bus was filled with a Chinese ping pong team. Rather than shooing the American man away, they took him in and gave him a ride. This display of hospitality is the base of how the Chinese government chose to open relationships with American commerce. In 1971, President Nixon came to China to sign an agreement that forever signaled this foreign friendship. The Chinese took in President Nixon, just as they had taken in the lost traveler on the bus. This story contributes to the further understanding of Chinese culture. Their hospitable nature is the root of the tree that branches out to foreign policy, education, commerce, and more.
20 June 2017
It's difficult to build an impression on a city you have mostly driven past. I feel like I've wrongly judged a lot of the cities we have been to. Although, I haven't truly experienced Shanghai, I still have developed a perception about this city in comparison of the others we have been to. The distinction lies in more than just the architecture, commerce, & cuisine. It is apparent in the people. Shanghainese aren't satisfied with the stroll of life, as the holiday-ers in Suzhou are. They also don't rush through their days on a hunt to hustle & get what they can, such as the Beijing dwellers. The people in Shanghai are strivers. They work hard & desire more. They climb upwards for opportunities with goals that are sky high; just like the buildings they work and live in. In short, Shanghai is an inspiration. It's magnificent size and spirit reflects the local's desire to always move up in search of more. Their motivated characteristics drive the force of this city's prosperity.
It's fascinating how Suzhou and Shanghai have switched places. One city remains stagnant in time while the other is the forefront of cultural modernity. Suzhou used to be considered a metropolitan Chinese city, while Shanghai was just another village. This shift came along with the open of commerce between the English and the Chinese nearly two-hundred years ago. China would export tea to the English using the canal system, and eventually would allow the English to import their items as well. The masses that can't afford Shanghai's intense rent prices get to enjoy both towns by living in Suzhou and commuting to work in Shanghai. It's interesting to consider the possibilities of modern China without Shanghai as their gleaming, global, and prosperous city. Would China still be a world leader if Suzhou never became merely a village? Do the locals of Shanghai that are being forced out of the hub of the city resent its international fame?
19 June 2017
China's long history has equated to a lot of mediums of art & expressions of creativity. We have experienced just a few of the magnitudes of art forms. Easily, the one that has resonated with me the most is the edible one. Chinese cuisine is well rounded & spectacularly plated. The array of flavors and ingredients that goes into one dish is an art form in itself. Not a single dish hits only one note of flavor. The ingredients also range from special items to unusual scraps. The usage of all the parts of one ingredient shows a great care for that item. Presentation of these dishes are very visual. They are accompanied by a lot of color, decorative flowers, & herbs. Chinese cuisine reflects their ancient knowledge & creativity. Even the grimy street food has an aromatic & visual character to it. It's made to be smelt around the corner & desired upon sight. The quality of tempting persons to view your art through smell and taste is something that is singular to the art of cooking
Suzhou is a wonderful destination with a lot of charm. Travelers looking for a town with local and relaxing characteristics will enjoy this city. Suzhou has a budding tourist quality, without the disturbance of the old part of the city. There are still plenty traditional sights to see. Strolling along the Great Cannel is a perfect activity to understand the spirit of this town. It's constant drizzle of rain keeps the city covered in a glistening and beautiful dew. The small handcrafted shops reflect the individualistic quality of Suzhou. It is a destination completely unique from the other towns we have visited in both pace and sights. The locals in the town seem to move slower. The Great Cannel mimics this leisurely speed by gently flowing by and providing a calming background noise. There aren't great rushes and rapid exchanges. It feels almost as if everyone in this town pretends they are on holiday. The ease of Suzhou certainly reassures this tranquil feeling.
18 June 2017
Tourism creates a ripple effect of impactful implications. As a hospitality student, I am of course interested in the careers that are built out of an area with significant tourism. This economic boom that reverberates out of a great tourist location is certainly impactful. Obviously, some of these employment opportunities are more sought after than others, but every job plays an important role in creating a tourist destination. With an increase in job opportunities, comes an increase in the standard of living. When the locals have higher wages, they can put more money into their economy in order to better their lives. The result is a well-established and prosperous destination that has plenty room to host more travelers. However, in some locations, the impact of tourism has been too great and has destroyed the authenticity of the original destination. The placement of the Starbucks in the Forbidden City is a great example of over-providing services and ruining local marvels.
My state of relaxation has been infrequent. You could joke that this isn't abnormal from how I usually feel, but "vacationing" in China is challenging if you are motivated by tranquility. Chinese culture doesn't feel calm from my Western perspective. There are so many rules, I always feel on edge. I never fully relax because I need to be aware of my noise impact and respecting the sites we visit. I am constantly mentally shushing myself from saying something too American or loud. Our group also always feels so rushed. It's surprising when we don't have somewhere to go or a deadline to meet. Usually, the next itinerary spot needs to be immediately ventured to. I also don't feel at ease when traveling in China because I am always feeling so looked at. Whether it is locals that are fascinated by our appearance or persons judging our behaviors, there is always someone watching. It is much different from Floridian relaxation which is usually accompanied by coladas and palm trees.
17 June 2017
There is a huge gap of collective differences between western and eastern culture. A noticeable area of variance is the speed at which we engage with each other. Westerners race through interactions with little ceremony or thought. Business is completed over video chat in most cases. Chinese culture paces itself over important sensitive subjects such as business. Time is set aside to build trust & friendship. Our university interactions took place within long-term orientation. Before anything took place, we were instructed to take a seat then a speech was given. It was almost ritualistic. We would be served drinks and given warm welcomes. Afterwards, we took time to introduce ourselves before diving into conversation. At the end of conversation, the Chinese students would request our information in order to stay in contact with us. In my experience, the students would immediately message me to reinforce our connection. Their ceremonious nature is a root of their hospitality.
Walking around a unique place such as Wu Zhen, there is plenty to see, smell, touch, & taste. All of these interesting interactions allow for an overwhelming amount of tourist products. However, there are products that, unbelievably enough, cannot be carried home in luggage or picked up with chopsticks. Easily a great example of this type of product is service. Wu Zhen is filled with interesting services, but an exceptional one we all experienced was with the gondola drivers. On our way into the unstable boats, the driver would hold out his hand for balance. On the waterway, he would narrowly avoid bumping our boat into others by pushing the oar with a lot of force. Without this inseparability of service, we couldn't have experienced the product. Therefore, this service was special and reinforced the tangible product. Another intangible product was the information. Inside all of the museums were summaries of the importance of what we were viewing, enhancing the product as well
16 June 2017
The presentation today was very eye-opening. It was made clear how the market for accommodations is becoming increasingly less interested in luxury. In this climate, how do upscale accommodations modify their service to reflect this change? Xiezhu Technology is offering a solution to this problem with their line of smart products. Their business lies in the validity and usefulness of data that their products can access. The usage of this technology is no doubt practical for the changes hotels are trying to make. I was interested in the possibility of having guests feel spied on. Xiezhu's representatives haven't seemed to have worked on surveying guests' opinions on data mining. It's possible that by informing the guests, they might feel nervous about their utility usage. But I believe that surveilling the guests to such a high degree, without their knowing, in order to provide additional services is slightly invasive. However, I do see the fiscal benefits of these products.
Because the speech during the ceremony between Xiezhu Technology and Zhejiang University went mostly over my English-speaking head, I had to spend most of my time watching instead of listening. Observing the cultural cues between these two parties was so interesting. The experience was heightened by the fact that this was the only thing I could be clued into. I noticed the prevalence of power distance in Chinese culture that we had already been warned about. The first instance was their introductions between one another. The less respected individuals would bow slightly lower than their wiser counterpart. They would also allow them to speak & sit first. The next example was in their placement. Professionals with higher regard were seated in the front and center of the conference and in photos. They were placed there out of respect and power. This was obviously not a peer to peer situation. Having this distance allows Chinese people to proudly display their ladder of reverence.
15 June 2017
China's psychological thought is rooted in traditional mindfulness of yin and yang. The balance of these two forces lead to harmonious unity. China, as a country, reflects this equivalence still today. Their ancient age and modern technology come together in consensus. Although, the difference of both halves of the balance is easily spotted in the people themselves. The older generation is set in traditions. They plant their feet firmly in familiarity and don't step outside of their ancient boundaries. Their modest ways don't allow them to grow along with their economically and globally expanding country. They trust their traditional medicine, scurry past one another, and harbor high expectations. The younger generation is calmer and much more curious. They've been exposed to foreign languages, businesses, and culture. They enjoy the stroll of life, void of strict expectations. Both sides of this demographic circle of yin and yang contribute to the cultural vibrancy of China.
I've encountered many tourist marketing practices during my travels through China. Some have been clearly more thought out and well funded than others. Surprisingly however, the seemingly accidental marketing practices have appeared to work better on me. Strolling along the Muslim Street, there were plenty of vendors selling out of small carts on the side of the road. They would ring bells and yell to encourage shoppers to take a second look at their stall. Some of them would sit outside and handcraft souvenirs or food that could be purchased within sight of the visitors. Other's items were made tempting through smells that wafted off of grills and out of tea kettles. These practices influenced a lot of my purchase decisions. One of my favorite examples along the lines of these simple and super effective marketing practices are the merchants walking around with a bag of ice cream on a hot day. These vendors' marketing decisions are calculated and get my wallet out every time.
14 June 2017
The technological advancements in China is something that is frequently spoken about in the States. In Xi'an, we visited the famous Terra-cotta Warriors Museum. I felt so fortunate to be able to experience this wonder for myself. I soon realized that wifi was available in the museum, and pulled out my phone. WeChat is a extremely popular medium of communication. It is more advanced and used than any other messaging app in America. With this apt app, I was able to video call my loved ones on a completely different continent. This allowed us both to experience this incredible moment together, despite any geographical distance. Combining our awe made for a better experience for me. Amazingly, the museum was full of technological tourist products. Souvenirs that came alive through your phone were available to purchase and vending machines spit out gifts. Despite the age of the massive sight, paths for modernism have been laid out for guests and beyond.
Between light headedness & endless sneezes, taking a moment to zone out on the bus in-between locations was a must. However, I kept an ear open for the cultural tidbits that our guide was offering on the ride. He mentioned Chinese superstition and its prevalence in current societal thought. He warned us not to give fans as gifts because they suggest separation. Of course, this was on our way back from the fan gift shop & it was too late for a lot of doomed shoppers. He said pears held the same notion of detachment, so they are not shared at the dinner table. I didn't know about these "don'ts" in Chinese culture. I did though know about his final suggestion based on myth, which was to never stick your chopsticks in a bowl of rice, because it references death and mimics a gravesite. It's clear that their superstition goes beyond their collectivistic and gift giving culture. In the case of pears, chopsticks, & fans, its better to be safe than sorry
13 June 2017
I think we had the misfortune of not truly experiencing Xi'an's food, of course other than the extensive meal we had at the retreat. A lot of the food in Xi'an was served in tourist restaurants where only Westerners could be found in the dining room and the parking lots were big enough for buses. The restaurants we ate at in Beijing were in the middle of alleyways or up narrow staircases. They were authentic, local, spots and the food proved that. Other than the disparity of our dining choices, you can still compare the type of meals eaten in each city. Beijing food was rich and covered in sauces. The food in Xi'an had historic roots and was more portable. Beijing offered plates of vegetables and meats combined to be enjoyed over the period of the meal. The cuisine is made of a satisfying blend that reflects the city's modernity and antiquity. Xi'an's well-known treats were quick one bite items like the hamburgers or the dumplings. Small snacks could be found on most streets.
As a destination, in reference to the other traveling we have done in China, Hangzhou doesn't seem like an obvious choice. It's dreary weather is certainly an "X" on most travelers check lists. Planning around the rain is not easy and walking around in it can be miserable. Hangzhou also feels very agrarian. It doesn't give off a great notion of tourism. If it does, it is only a budding tourist destination. Most of the sights to be seen are farms, bodies of water, and thick greenery. Beijing and Xi'an both have major international sights to see. Hangzhou is simply simple, void of any "must-see's". This certainly doesn't make Hangzhou a destination that shouldn't be visited! All major cities at some point in their history weren't recognized either. Hangzhou also feels much calmer than the other cities. Travelers looking for a slower paced experience in the middle of China's chaos would certainly enjoy Hangzhou's lack of speed and population.
12 June 2017
My cross cultural exchange was a little encumbered due to the language barrier. Still, there was plenty to learn from each other. We spoke a lot about school, obviously. I realized from Barry, my cultural counterpart, how much weight he is under at his university. He mentioned that he has class eight hours every day & mounds of homework in the meantime. He lives on campus too, making his whole world his university. I didn't realize that Chinese college students revolve around their schooling in this way. So when I told him about how I've scheduled my classes to last three hours every other day, he was shocked & jealous. What we both didn't understand about one another was our outside responsibilities. I've worked full time for many semesters, along with pretty much every other student I've met. Our responsibilities don't end past those Pegasus gates, they extend down I4. Barry then told me he wished he had more opportunity for work experience. Maybe both are needed for success
The Muslim street had culture packed down every alley. It was filled with merchants, cooks, and customers rushing past one another. Being a part of this rush is necessary for any travelers in Xi'an. The Han and Hui people combine commercialism and culture in one area. This joint tourism product makes an organized chaos that has plenty to offer. Whether you are looking for an unusual treat for your international tastes or a gift for your loved ones back home, this street can provide that. Smelling the local foods is tempting. They're made with such care and showmanship. The bargaining that transpires during transactions is a fun and rushing experience. Honestly, I felt giddy after walking away with a gift that I managed to get for cheap. Mostly I was so thrilled to enjoy the transfer of culture passing along each person. Along this street there is so much to see and learn. Overall, the Muslim street is a local specialty that should be enjoyed by all travelers.
11 June 2017
Easily the most memorable culinary experience has been at the retreat near the hot spring. I feel so passionate about food and learning to cook. I only know the surface of the effort that goes into preparing the dishes we ate. The aesthetics, flavors, and plating were all well thought out. Realizing all of that effort made me feel so appreciative for the genuine care that went into that single meal. Every moment of that experience was laced with specialness and a little bit of glamour. From the service to the cuisine, it was a spectacular moment that I couldn't wait to share with my loved ones back home. The greatest sight we have seen has been the terra-cotta warriors and horses. It felt haunting being in the room with all of those statues standing and staring off in battle position. I couldn't comprehend and yet felt the ancient ambience in the pits. It was a magnificent and ominous feeling all at the same time. Xi'an's antiquity and charm has been a privilege to experience.
Now that we are decently into the trip, it's easier to recognize the specifics of the challenges I am facing, instead of the static mess of obstacles. I'm realizing how out of my comfort zone I am. This is obviously something that isn't a surprise to me or anyone on this trip. In fact, that's one of the purposes. But for me, I already find myself having such little comfort in my usual surroundings. Coming into this foreign environment hasn't given me the escape option that I usually take in order to feel calm and safe. The things, places, and persons I hold dear and use for security are on a different continent. I've begun the attempt of curbing these challenges by finding solace in small things. There is security in our group and the peers I've gotten to know. There is comfort in the unusual snacks I've come to love. Most of all, having time to myself to decompress has helped smooth out the stress of the day and process what I have accomplished outside of my safe zone so far.
10 June 2017
Chinese hospitality was so unexpected to me! Although I should have figured that a culture with such a long history would have sensational sensibilities when it comes to warm welcomes and displays of respect. I suppose I prophesied Chinese hospitality to be quiet and uninvolved. Which to be fair, it sometimes is. Possibly though, some of this aloof service could have to do with our cultural and language barriers between each other. However, the majority of my experience with the characteristics of Chinese service has been filled with geniality and care. Since I've gotten on the plane to Beijing, a Chinese person has been sharing with me and welcoming me to their country. Chinese hospitality doesn't live only in their jobs on the clock. It's rooted in their culture and upbringing. From a baby wipe when I needed it most after getting sick on the plane to being offered a tai chi class with a master, their hospitality and gift-giving has been ever present and much appreciated.
After today's reminder of giving face, it became more apparent how often it is present in Chinese hospitality. Today we had the opportunity to practice face. I was so nervous to not give it in the right way at our first trial in the retreat. Stepping off of the bus, looking up at the manager & gripping his hand firmly, I realized how simple yet respectful these small gestures were. The smile on his face & the bob of his head indicated we were doing decently. I tried to continue this understanding of face by always looking into his eyes while he was speaking, instead of at the translator. This wasn't the only evidence of face though. Upstairs we were provided a ridiculously incredible meal. We were introduced to the chef who in turn introduced his creations to us. The chef looked pridefully at his food and explained with great detail what each dish was. I believe the chef was giving face to the meal itself. After tasting the food, I too thought it deserved respect.
9 June 2017
Visiting Beijing has been both a memorable & exhausting experience. While the fatigue has been an important factor in the journey, I can't help but wonder if it's necessary. Chinese culture moves quickly. It zips past you in the street & pushes you along the stairs. Relaxation isn't very present in their tourism product. Large couches can be found in all hotel lobbies in America, & yet the Marriott in Beijing didn't have a single seat for guests checking in. The pool at our first hotel was one flat depth of six feet. There wasn't a shallow end of the pool to stand in, indicating the pool was meant for exercising. In the Forbidden City there was a swarm of chairs off to the side. The placement of these chairs was in the middle of the sun. No one dared to sit in them as they would likely burn up sitting in the wrath of the heat. In Beijing there aren't options to unwind and enjoy what the destination is purposed for. Creating an environment to slow down will enhance Beijing.
I've witnessed plenty of cultural differences in China. Overall, their commitment to one another is a noticeable abnormality for my Western experiences. Collectivism is apparent in Chinese service. I noticed early on the squadron of servers waiting in the corner of all the restaurants we visited in Beijing. They stood quiet and fascinated, waiting for our food to emerge from the kitchen. I found this curious because there seemed to be more waiters than tables being served. There isn't just one server per four or more tables, which is normal in the States. After dishes were served they would plant their feet in the corner again and talk amongst themselves. Considering their lack of involvement in the dining experience, I can't imagine any other reason to have so many employees on the clock other than the Chinese aspect of collectivism. The US' individualism towards service would never allow for such a high labor cost percentage just to encourage combined effort.
8 June 2017
Around our visited attractions I have seen many seemingly romantically involved couples enjoying the sights with us. This statement is an assumption as I haven't witnessed any indication of this. There isn't a lot of public physical affection in China. I never truly noticed it until I saw this couple (pictured above) outside our bus coming back from Tienman Square. I find their display so surprising because there is an extreme lack of need for personal space here. People are always whizzing by and knocking shoulders. In fact, I've gotten up close and personal with dozens of Chinese people. It appears that the distinction lies not in physical touch, but the meaning and feelings behind it. Likely this is because Chinese culture seems to be reserved and private. I certainly forgot this when I went in for a hug from Fan, my friend at BISU. I was so embarrassed as I realized mid-hug it was a faux pas. Moderate public affection isn't discouraged and much more frequent in the States.
I find myself frequently lost in thought. Unfortunately, not in the philosophical way that allows for depth and clarity. It feels like frayed ribbons of thoughts whipping by me and I'm doing my best to stay out of their entangling reach. I'm thinking about exhaustion, fears, thirst, responsibilities, excitement, etc. It's especially distracting in an unfamiliar and crowded place. This has been the climate of all our trips around Beijing. Sometimes I don't even realize how lost I am. Around me my peers have been keeping their focus. Their gasps and expressions at the sights we have been seeing have helped snapped me out of my own mental mess. When I hear one of them exclaim, I'm able to clear my mind and enjoy with them. However as soon as I get to shoo away those ribbons, I realize how much I've missed while stuck behind my own brain. This realization of course continues the spiral. Still, each time they are noticeably excited, it makes me more mindful to be present.
7 June 2017
When you really consider the efforts that go into managing a single attraction, you notice the incredible amount of manpower that is required. Today the tourism products I saw included servers, tour guides, security guards, drivers, merchants, janitors, customers, desk agents, chefs, guests, business owners, ticketers, and technology personnel. I'd like to focus more on the janitors I've seen at the attractions we've gone to today. They were usually older individuals who could be found throughout the attraction diligently sweeping. Their age concerned me because I recognized the soreness and exhaustion I felt and could imagine how tired and overheated they must be too. Specifically, the janitorial staff at the Great Wall. Climbing the wall is strenuous even for the most athletic individuals. I suppose that despite the strain on their bodies, maintaining the wall is important to them. Pain can be easily forgotten when pride is present.
The wall was much more extraneous than expected to be completely honest. The anxiety I felt about how close I was to the mountaintops weighed heavy on my chest. This restriction made the ascent a burden, and not the treasure I had hoped for. Feeling the fast pace of others around me caused panic. I was busy imagining being pushed off the side of the wall instead of enjoying the sight. Taking a break to rest my heart, I dared to look down at the incoming guests. An old woman caught my attention. She appeared to be struggling but took a mighty step at each stair. I was fascinated with her fearlessness. She wasn't suffering from her own imagination. There was nothing to imagine, everything magical was ahead of her. The break was over and it was time to journey on. I stopped looking down at my own feet and instead looked ahead into the scenic distance. I began to have the audacity of freedom from my nerves, making this my favorite experience so far.
6 June 2017
We were introduced to so many students of hospitality at this special Beijing university. To my surprise, a friend of a friend, named Fan, was present at the student panel. Fan and I both worked at the same location in Disney World at the same time. We realized we had likely crossed paths at some point last year. He mentioned to me that the hospitality program isn't very popular. To me, that meant that it made the hospitality field less competitive for him. It also meant that those who did participate in learning about hospitality were persons with a love for serving guests who are passionate about becoming more global. Fan displayed this devotion. From him I learned that the phrase "the grass is always greener" applies across cultural lines. He kept mentioning how much he learned in Orlando and how desperately he wanted to go back. Meanwhile, I was telling him how privileged I felt to learn in China. I learned this because I needed to know to appreciate the green of where I am
Destination management improvements lie in training and development. Creating a positive and open atmosphere in which employees can learn and understand their expectations will lead to the success of a destination. Part of the training should include an introduction to service characteristics from different cultures. This improvement on training will allow traveling guests to feel more comfortable in their accommodations. Additional training should also cover culture of the company itself. Training needs to reflect the increase of globalization. Developing on these improvements for training will make the management of a destination more positive. Employees will stay longer and guests will have higher satisfaction. For this specific suggestion, development could include exchange and travel with foreign companies in order to gain first-hand knowledge on culture.
5 June 2017
I was so impressed with Victor, the representative of Hutong's tours. He displayed the characteristic quality that makes a hospitality operation successful. Victor was personable, well-spoken and kind. These traits cannot be taught and make all the difference in service. The knowledge he shared with us showed us his pride for this hidden attraction. But more importantly I appreciated his respect. He talked openly about how the company he represents works with locals. Mr. Zhang clearly had been disappointed with how his neighborhood has fallen hostage to other attractions, but he and Victor had a clearly symbiotic respect for each other. I was also roused by his salesmanship. I was on the fence about joining the tour until I herd his introduction. Additionally, Victor went above his expected service standards by thinking of a group member and finding more comfortable access back to the bus for that person. Overall, this one guide showed me what Chinese hospitality can look like
Of course there are many differences between Chinese and American cuisine. I was most interested though in the difference between our first authentic Chinese lunch and the American-Chinese food I've been eating for years. The first difference I noticed was the chopsticks. They weren't the typical pull-apart wooden sticks that are the second option to forks. They were long and weighted. Getting used to the weight threw off my Chopstick Confidence™. The next new experience was the utility in the dining. The lazy Susan is something I've only ever seen my mom use for her spices in the kitchen. Its presence made passing along the family style meals much more efficient. American meals, from any style of cuisine, aren't served off of communal plates, making lazy Susan's pointless. The final difference was in the service. The waiter's presence was incremental. They came to drop off the food and left immediately. In America, this kind of service would be considered rude.
4 June 2017
1). "First Impressions of China as a Destination"
So far, as a destination, China feels intricate. While not all aspects of their accommodations are as luxurious as the one pictured above, they all tell that same story of detail. On the shuttle ride to the hotel I noticed retail spaces and apartments that mimicked traditional Chinese designs. Little brown and red roofs that had artistic trims were everywhere. The airport was made to represent China with gardening, signage, and pillars. Downtown, giant corporate skyscrapers were tiled with mirrors, reflecting the city back onto itself. And now here at our first hotel, I notice the same attention to detail. My favorite piece, the chandelier, represents my impressions of China so far. It's made with such care. The longer you look, the more interesting and intricate it becomes.
1). Cultural Similarities/Differences
While this memory is still too close for comfort, it's a great representation of cultural similarities. This photo was taken during a brief golden age of the longest flight I've ever been on. I had the whole row to myself for a couple of glorious hours. But like all good things, it ended. Replacing my leg room was a woman from Beijing with her young son, Ronan. The woman, I later learned, was a professor of linguistics at Rochester University. She had been to Orlando for conferences and knew of UCF. At first, her presence burdened me and my space but as I got to know her more, I was happy for the company. She told me about her parent's home in Beijing and talked happily to me about my fears of travel. I went on about Orlando traffic and watched Ronan while she used the restroom. This exchange was small but meaningful. While we had our different reasons to travel, we could find unity in the most important thing at the time: getting off that plane.