The use of plain language is vitally important in the hospitality industry in more ways than one. When in a leadership role plain language is useful when training new employees who may not know the specific terms and also guiding new employees in general when giving instructions that need to be carried out correctly. In this case, plain language will prevent the misinterpretation of instructions and for new employees, plain language can slowly be replaced with the specific terms so that the employees can learn the industry-specific language.
Plain language can also be useful for any employee during many guest interactions, especially in the tourism industry. When working in this industry there will be numerous times when one must communicate with a guest who speaks a different language and using complex words will confuse many who do not speak the native language. Here, plain language is very useful when directing guest and even when ensuring the safety of guests when instructions need to be clearly and correctly followed in a timely manner.
The first blog post I chose to read and summarize comes from a blog called The Technogeek Diaries, authored by Leah Guren. Leah created this post, titled “Fun in the Bathroom,” on November 4, 2010 so it isn’t exactly new or current events, but I found it to be a good (or should I say bad) example of a simple application of technical communication.
In this post, Leah addresses two examples of unusual and unhelpful communication she stumbled across in a ladies’ restroom at a conference center in Wiesbaden, Germany. The first was a hand dryer with instructions that read “place hand in front of sensor” but in reality required the push of a button to operate. This wording is confusing, as many hand driers and other restroom fixtures are being switched over to touchless technology. The instructions lead the user to believe that the drier will turn on automatically rather than requiring a manual button to be pushed. This could simply be a “lost in translation” issue if the original German instructions were worded appropriately, but a company who supplies a large number of these driers to locations where many languages are spoken, the employee or group in charge of creating the labels or instructions should ensure that the final wording is accurate. The second example was of the sanitary product disposal unit which not only read “Lady Killer,” but also had the image of a handgun printed on the bags. Separately, or especially in combination, the name and graphic can be off-putting or even offensive to the users (audience).
– Matt Williams –