The Importance of Cultural Competence at Events

Event and hospitality pros are consistently required to respond to the needs of their guests, which far exceed a 7 a.m. wake-up call or a comped meal to apologize for cold chicken. We live in a world where diversity should be celebrated and where individuals are encouraged to express their views and defend their identities. As a result, a well-designed event requires a certain level of cultural competence—the ability to effectively identify and respond to various cultural factors that can have an effect on how a guest responds to an experience.

Here are a few pointers on how to keep cultural competence top of mind when designing an experience for different groups of guests:

  • 1. Stay up-to-date on cultural and social conflicts.
    This is basic but essential. It’s important to pay attention to current events and beware of things that could be interpreted as offensive or discriminatory. It’s very possible that a lack of sensitivity could promote harmful assumptions and stereotypes that make certain guests feel out of place or offended.
  • 2. Approach ‘difference’ with curiosity and respect; learn from people who are different from you.
    You may even realize that others’ ideals make more sense than what you’ve been taught! For more perspective, consider Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory, which essentially analyzes culture through six indices:

    • Power Distance Index
    • Individual vs. Collectivism
    • Uncertainty Avoidance Index
    • Masculinity vs. Femininity
    • Long-Term Orientation vs. Short-Term Orientation
    • Indulgence vs. Restraint.

    The score of each index offers a means to analyze the behaviors associated with each respective dimension. For example, the Uncertainty Avoidance Index measures the scope in which members of a society respond to ambiguity. A high score on this index suggests an aversion to and potential fear of uncertainty, which may help explain why some of your guests ask an overwhelming amount of questions about their ground transportation to the airport.

  • 3. Examine your own background and culture.
    Challenge yourself to analyze how your own cultural environment has shaped your attitudes and experiences. When you can understand the logic and context of your own beliefs, it’s easier to be sensitive to the beliefs of others.Questions to Consider when constructing a hospitable space or designing an event:

    • Are there any cultural or religious conflicts with the location, time, and date of the event? 
      Is there disability access to the space?
    • Are there food options that consider religious and dietary restrictions?
    • Is there a dress code that should be communicated to guests?
    • Is there any point where guests will need to disclose information about their gender and/or sexuality?

These questions will prompt you to consider how slight adjustments in your planning processes can cultivate a more inclusive environment. Concierge.com allows event planners to create personalized and customized experiences and different communication channels for different groups of guests.