“We’ve been flooded out again” said the host of a boutique B & B lodge recently. A couple of guests had rinsed off outside the shower box, rather than inside. Knowing how much this would cost in time and money, we sympathised. Why did this happen?.

We’ve noticed the everchanging face of our overseas visitors and we should always feel honoured that they’ve chosen New Zealand for their travels. They’re visiting a country very different to their own. Some are well travelled and others not. New Zealand may be their first overseas experience to offer boutique style accommodation. So they’re not unware about the ‘no cooking’ rule. In some cultures it’s traditional to soap up in the shower cubicle then step outside the shower to rinse off. The couple in question were probably just as puzzled as the host when they saw the flood they’d created. Now when you’ve created a problem for others, no matter how unintentional, it’s embarrassing. In some countries, this also means a’loss of face’. Great way to start a dream holiday isn’t!

In my own travels overseas I had to get used to using an inbuilt toilet at floor level – different technique involved, but just as hygienic, especially if one of the locals bothered to explain how to use this system effectively. I was grateful when they did.

For too long, hosts have considered that the most basic orientation is enough. Not any longer folks. It’s very simple to avoid the flooding debacle or any other mishap by explaining a few simple rules (the trick is not to make them sound like rules). Give a warm welcome and escort the guests to their suites casually explaining that soaping and rinsing one’s body takes place within the shower. In passing, you could also mention that no cooking is allowed in the room and go on to recommend a suitable restaurant they might enjoy. (most regions have at least one ethnic option available).

A host recently tried this strategy with a lovely honeymoon couple. No problem occurred and the guests proved to be the nicest couple to deal with. In fact the hosts were very sorry to see them go. Is the solution really that simple?

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