Sound the alarm. The British are coming. It’s not about manning battle stations or unwanted aggression. It’s about modern tourists, business people and second or third homebuyers crossing the pond to visit Charleston and her islands via British Airways in April.
Unlike other tourists, these new guests will not be driving from neighboring towns and states with similar versions of our sweet Southern drawl and American customs.
British Airways passengers will be far more diverse, even more than our friends from Toronto or New York or Boston.
This fresh wave of tourists will speak many languages other than the Queen’s English, bringing both exciting and challenging habits to town as guests, diners, shoppers and patrons.
For example, many European travelers read signs, advertisements and websites to the letter. They expect restaurants, hotels, events and the “loo” to be right and proper as stated in the brochure. They explore miles of remote outdoors on foot and also dress differently at the beach, if at all.
Brits often eat huge breakfasts, drink tea each afternoon, watch rugby of course, dine later in the evening, and sit longer at tables, enjoying exceptional cheeses while sipping digestives local establishments may not yet have in stock.
Foreign customers may also not understand prices or exchange rates well, or add gratuity the way Americans do. That could be a problem for food and beverage servers here.
Although some locals and old-timers may envision kicking dirt over such ideas like an upset ball club manager at The Joe, Lowcountry business owners, managers, brokers and chefs should rise to the occasion by sharpening their skills, polishing staff attitudes and practicing international communications in advance.
Will your Charleston place of business, hospitality, or farm-to-table venue be prepared for the “British Invasion” of 2019?
Baron Christopher Hanson