David J. Danto


Travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion




eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org††††† Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD on all ††††††††††


Ocean City, MD Ė The Student Exchange ProgramĖ July 2024


I thought my wife and I were heading to Ocean City, MD. We had planned to take a small driving vacation to celebrate my birthday, her new job and the Independence Day holiday.Instead, we wound-up touring Eastern Europe.

Well, I know our car went from New Jersey through Delaware to Maryland, but once we got to our hotel on the beach, it was clearly Eastern Europe.The Hilton Garden Inn where we stayed fills 90% of its staff positions with exchange students from The Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland and other nearby places.As I visited establishments along this strip of summer resorts and rentals, I realized it was not just the Hilton Ė many properties in the area are run by college kids from overseas that donít know the area at all.

This isnít necessarily a bad thing.I appreciate learning from other cultures and am all for giving opportunities to people from everywhere.Unfortunately, there is a significant culture shock that bringing in so many exchange students to run property services canít overcome with what is likely a brief orientation.Just ask the nice student manning the Starbucks in the lobby how he felt having to look-up one of the complex coffees they serve in a bound manual on the counter.Heís probably never heard of a venti nonfat half-calf chai latte before Ė nor should he have Ė but it is one of the norms for a Starbucks customer in the US.

For another example, the hotel restaurant server may never have seen this much western food before, so she probably didnít know that bringing out the bread, the appetizer and the main courses all at the same time was not a cool thing to do.

When Iím paying a hotel with a Hilton brand over $400 a night for a stay on the beach, I expect that I shouldnít have to teach the operational team what the local cultureís norms are.Here in this beach town it looks like property owners pay these students next to nothing to run their services for the summer, and pocket the profits that underpaying the staff creates.This is just wrong IMHO.

Iím sure the employees donít mind a summer at the beach with their room and board covered, but itís honestly hard to see this as anything other than taking advantage of inexperienced youth while still charging guests as if a fully qualified staff was present.Hilton, Marriott and the rest of the hospitality companies doing this here should be ashamed of themselves.

If you want to learn about Eastern European culture this summer, just come on over to Ocean City, Maryland and you can have the hotel staff tell you all about it while you teach them how to make your iced caramel macchiato in the Starbucks branded lobby coffee shop Ė that probably costs five times their daily meal budget back home.



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This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.

All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.

Copyright 2024 David Danto


As always, feel free to write and comment, question or disagree.Hearing from the traveling community is always a highlight for me.Thanks!