Q: I work at a hotel, and Japanese guests are not exactly uncommon. Could you give me examples of some phrases that I could use to make them feel more at ease during check-in or check-out? For example, if they had a nice stay. I`d really appreciate it, and I`m sure that our Japanese guests would, too! Thanks so much! - Jessica
A: Hi Jessica,
Seeing as I basically live in hotels, let’s start of with the easy one and that is “i ra sha i ma se” This is a phrase that you always great guests with in a hotel or restaurant. You say it nice and slow with a long, deep bow – irashaimase.
In the morning a hearty “o ha yo u go za i ma su” again with a bow is always appreciated.
Then it gets tough ….. the problem now is that as the customer is the main player here to speak correctly you have to use really, really polite keigo Japanese. This is something that is totally different from normal Japanese (totally different words and grammar) and is really hard for most Japanese speakers to learn, so it’s probably best left for now. Unless you’re really good already!
The best thing would be to stick to, really, simple English. If you do get stuck with the English then any Japanese is fine, even if you make mistakes, but it’s probably best not to start with Japanese. This is especially true for business / older travellers.
If it’s a more casual setting e.g. young girls on a trip or something, then more normal Japanese is fine, especially if it makes them laugh or feel at ease, especially “kawaii” is a phrase you can use a lot here for anything that is cute, their bags – kawaii! their phone – kawaii! their clothes – kawaii! anything!
Also keep in mind that most Japanese learners are taught when using English to say “yes, I understand” even when they don’t understand, so keep that in mind when problems crop up, it might just be a word they don’t understand.
“Did you have a nice stay?” is easy because you don’t say it in Japanese, it’s assumed that you have made the stay the best possible experience for them!