If you’re the owner of a Japanese inn, how do you express hospitality from even before your guests arrive? For many traditional inns, the answer lies in a welcome signboard. Having the customer’s name displayed out front, letting them know they’re welcome and in the right place, is a long-held tradition. That said, in this privacy-minded age, is it the right one to use? Let’s explore this issue and what it means for overseas guests.
Like for Japanese guests, views on privacy overseas vary person-to-person, although it can generally be said that people from Europe take a stronger view on the subject then those from America. For some, a welcome signboard with their name on it is a standout service and a unique experience, while others might feel a little creeped out. Therefore, the best way to handle this is to, first of all, is to inform the guests that you do this so that there are no unpleasant surprises. A simple notice on the booking page or hotel website in English is often enough.
Even better then informing though, is asking. Taking the time to ask your incoming guests, at the time of their booking, “May we display your name on our welcome signboard?”, shows that you’re both hospitable and mindful of their privacy preferences. It’s a win-win situation.
In summary, showing your guests that you are mindful of their privacy is a far better way to show hospitality than to write their names out front.