Great Pretender is a Japanese comedy crime animated series that saw major promotion on Netflix after its release. Overall, the show boasts exquisite art direction, a masterfully composed jazz soundtrack, nuanced and well-realized characters, exciting schemes, and several beautifully realized real-life destinations around the world.
While it might not seem like a show about gentlemen thieves taking on corrupt moguls through elaborate schemes has much to teach us about hospitality, it might serve us better to look deeper. In fact, it can be said that aside from elaborate schemes, most of what the characters do on the show is traveling around the world and meeting all kinds of people.
The show paints a vivid and modern image of a globalized world. It shows how easy it is for people to travel and meet each other in unexpected places, in unexpected ways. The main cast themselves are from countries ranging from Japan, France, South Korea, the UK, and Iraq. There are a lot of cultures clashing here, along with languages.
As such, we can learn something about the importance of multilingual support in the modern globalized world, as shown off in great detail by this fantastic show.
1. English is a Second Language to Much of the World
This sentiment might seem obvious when stated so simply but there is a lot to discuss here. Currently, there are about 55 countries in the world that recognize English as a language in some official capacity. Out of this, only the UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand have English as their de facto language. This leaves the majority of the world as non-native speakers.
Great Pretender, especially when dubbed in English, showcases how many people from around the world CAN speak English, and often to more than a passable degree. However, the show also makes sure to highlight the many ways in which non-native speakers can misunderstand each other through English.
Small nuances of the language such as idioms, cultural references, honorifics, and metaphors can get completely lost in some exchanges. A scene where two characters thought an image of a famous Japanese historical figure was Sonny Chiba (famous Japanese actor and martial artist) comes to mind.
This is the reason why multilingual support matters. When catering to guests from many different countries, the chances of them knowing English is quite high. However, the degree to which they are familiar with it or their eloquence with it might differ wildly. Simply put, English is not a be-all, end-all language that anyone “should” be able to speak.
As such, being able to address them in their own language and understanding their needs is paramount if one wishes to provide them with customer service that perfectly meets their needs.
2. Anyone Can Travel Anywhere
One of the realities faced by the modern hospitality industry is the fact that travel has become much easier for the average person (COVID-19 restrictions notwithstanding). The guests you meet at your establishment can come from all corners of the globe.
One of the storylines of Great Pretender deals with two siblings who are wealthy Middle Eastern Princes living in Singapore. They are fluent in English, affluent, and seem well-established locally. In another storyline, the interpreter/translator for a Taiwanese character is Japanese himself. One character, an Iraqi, was living in Brooklyn when she met one of the main characters, a Frenchman.
All of this to say that due to the increase in travel, there is no telling what kind of guest might walk in through your door. Whether you are a resort in the Maldives or a bed and breakfast in the UK, you might meet a guest from anywhere in the world. Being able to communicate with them in an adequate way is a cornerstone of good hospitality… which brings us back to multilingual support.
If your hotel website/app, your staff, and your hotel texts (such as signage or menus, etc) support multiple languages, they become more accessible to more people, regardless of where they come from. Moreover, you will never be caught off guard by being unable to communicate with unexpected guests.
3. Poor Communication Leads to Stereotypes
Although it is usually played for laughs, there are many instances of characters facing cultural stereotypes in Great Pretender. These moments may not mean much more than a quick joke and a way to show the ignorance of the speaker on the show but it shows just how far-reaching cultural stereotypes can be.
There are a few instances of Japanese characters being asked if they know martial arts or if they are ninjas. There are also instances where other characters such as the Frenchman, the Iraqi, etc also face stereotyping and labeling based on their backgrounds. These don’t go into racially insensitive comments or anything, but it does result in some strange misunderstandings.
In order to provide the best service to any guest who may wander into your establishment, you and your staff must work to eliminate cultural stereotypes or biases that are present. You must try to speak with guests on their own terms and learn the ways of their culture as they present them, not as Hollywood or other non-direct sources depict them.
Dealing with guests in their own language can be a big step forward to understanding them better. It reduces misunderstandings, adds nuances to communication, and can result in happier customers overall.
And there you have it! Just a brief look at some of the globalized and international aspects of Netflix’s Great Pretender and how it connects to hospitality. It can also be said that the show depicts many kinds of guests a hotel might deal with over time.
The overall message here is that English as the de facto language of hospitality has not been true for a few years now. It is barely holding onto the spot of the most spoken language in the world, with Mandarin Chinese hot on its tail. And as the world changes to accommodate more languages, so too must we.
Providing multilingual support to your guests is becoming less and less optional as the world continues to change. Thus, the question becomes “how”. That’s where TripKit comes in.
TripKit is our easy-to-learn, easy-to-use, highly customizable digital concierge app. It has many features that help both guests and staff, one of which being multilingual support. We can help you get all the relevant information about your hospitality establishment into the palms of your guests’ hands, in most major languages.
So if you’re interested in seeing what TripKit is all about, please head on over to our website today!