6 Golden Rules of Being a Good Guest

Our vacations wouldn’t be possible without the tour guides, housekeepers, concierges, cooks, and bartenders we encounter along the way. Here, their suggestions for making their days—and your trips—just a little bit better.

6 Golden Rules of Being a Good Guest

Photograph by Kelsey McClellan

Take the time to say hello.

“We interface with people all day, from all different walks of life. Where that interaction may not affect their day, a smile or kind word has a big effect on our days in hospitality. A kind word from a guest can make the difference between a good and a bad day. I guess that’s true for anyone, but especially for hospitality workers.”—Albert Rezk, director of rooms at Kayak Hotels Group

Eat responsibly.

“You see what people are really eating. I want to make sure I’m cross-utilizing ingredients and keeping portion size front of mind so there’s less waste. If you’re dining out, it’s great to share items family style. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” —Mona Guerrero, chef de cuisine at California’s coastal Terranea Resort

Listen—and learn—from the local community.

“The most meaningful experiences I’ve had with visitors to Trancoso are introducing capoeira to them and persuading them to join me for a spontaneous visit to the public academy to practice with the community. The local players adore having an audience to show off to and teach, and they’re incredibly proud that people want to meet them, to learn their culture. It’s a beautiful human exchange, full of laughter and smiles.” —Carlos França, capoeira player and senior concierge at Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, Trancoso, Brazil

Be sensitive.

“A country’s past and its politics shape its people, but it doesn’t define them. If you wish to dig deeper into difficult topics when chatting with locals, do so with sensitivity. There are many countries that have gone through eras of conflict, and these experiences may influence how a foreign guest is perceived by locals. Showing empathy toward people and seeking to understand how these events influenced them is a way of honoring another nation.” —Alfred Sze, Hong Kong–based Asia/Pacific tour guide for Kensington Tours

Consider a little something extra.

“We always appreciate when guests recognize that all of these experiences take human effort and show their gratitude by giving gratuities.” —From the housekeeping staff at Casa Kimberly, a luxury boutique hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Give a little grace.

“Bars and restaurants have been fighting for their lives, and most team members signed on to help save the ship—but now it’s gone from triage to running a marathon overnight. Remember that your server probably worked for months not knowing whether they would randomly get COVID and potentially die. Remember that mask mandates and safety protocols varied widely, so what you’re used to may not be the norm. Don’t be alarmed if you see service included, an insurance fee, or any other fee that you aren’t used to; revenues are down and wages are up, so everyone has to find ways to recruit competent team members, and invariably that will be passed along to consumers via prices or fees.” —Neal Bodenheimer, managing partner of CureCo. and operator of Peychaud’s Bar at the Hotel Maison de Ville, New Orleans

>> Next: The Future of Hospitality

Tim Chester is a deputy editor at AFAR, focusing primarily on destination inspiration and sustainable travel. He lives near L.A. and likes spending time in the waves, on the mountains, or on wheels.
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