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Harnessing cultural diversity: Why cultural differences are crucial for Oaky's success

, Oaky
Team culture blog LI 4

It’s no secret that being in the hospitality industry means interacting with other cultures on a daily basis. At Oaky, we know first-hand what it means to be immersed in a multicultural environment, as our team hails from 22 different nations.

Find out what are the pillars of multicultural interactions and what values our team cherishes to successfully collaborate with each other and shape the Oaky product that respects and celebrates diversity and every culture.

“We are Oaky. An international, fun, professional and above all, human-oriented company.”

This is the first thing you’ll see If you look at the ‘about us’ section of our website (accompanied by a classic Oaky GIF.) You’ll notice that the very first word we use to describe ourselves is ‘international.’ This is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit in Amsterdam, and especially in the software and tech sphere. But what does that mean in terms of a workplace?

For us, being ‘international’ is true in a very literal sense–as our website goes on to say, “Our team is made up of experts in hospitality and tech from all over the world.” But we’d also argue that being ‘international’ is about more than the number of nationalities of our colleagues; it also describes our way of thinking, our approach to solving problems, and our communication style. In other words: our company culture.

Then, to take it a step even further, there is Oaky as a product. Our clients–hotels–are located around the globe, and their clients–travellers–are by definition from everywhere! Oaky is therefore multicultural from start to finish, from the creators to the clients to the end-users. The magic all begins in our Amsterdam office, where our international culture very much informs the way we shape the product and add exciting new features.

Understanding the cultural differences is the first step to smooth communication

It’s hard to overestimate the role that the book “The Culture Map” written by Erin Meyer played in establishing the culture at Oaky. We can recommend it to anyone who is looking to foster good relationships throughout international teams but also with customers, and hence guests at your hotel.

In her book “The Culture Map,” Erin Meyer defines key business characteristics that differ between cultures, from feedback styles to power structures. She also explores in depth the way that these differences affect our day-to-day lives in the workplace, and offers strategies for successfully navigating them.

So how exactly do you go about creating a cohesive environment when there is so much variety in the way we work?

Well, just being aware of the fact that we have so many different perspectives is actually a good starting point. By keeping our multicultural origins in mind, we are able to make changes and adjustments as a company, but also to consider how our individual cultures impact the way we work, and how we interact with our colleagues. If, for example, we notice our teammate doesn’t appear to speak up much during meetings, it’s helpful to remember that this might not be due to a lack of preparation, but rather because they are accustomed to sharing their input only when expressly invited to do so.

Defining the culture from the start is crucial for continuous synergy

Another important step is defining the Oaky culture and what we aim to be so that everyone is on the same page (a tactic also suggested in The Culture Map.) “Establishing the company culture from day one makes things run more smoothly”, says Gabriëlla Kanhai, our Head of HR

Here at Oaky, we have an in-depth onboarding process for every new employee, during which time they learn not only about our product and their new role but also about our company core values and even the dress code in the office. (In case you’re curious: we like to keep it casual.)

Our company values are demonstrated even before the hire date. “Our hierarchy is pretty flat, and not everybody comes from a country where they are used to that,” Gabriëlla says. “So even the founders’ interview sets the expectation right away.” She’s referring to the final-stage interview in our hiring process, where we ask the candidates to informally present themselves to our three company founders. This interview not only gives information about the potential new teammate’s personality and whether they’ll be a good “culture fit” for the company

However, we also understand that culture isn’t static, and as the team, our goals, and the world around us grows and changes it’s important to reflect on those changes.

This week marks the beginning of our partnership with Happy Millennials, which we’re very excited about. As specialists in workplace coaching and teambuilding, they’ll be helping us to gain an in-depth understanding of the culture of Oaky and how we all fit into it. By really taking the time to understand ourselves and each other, we’re hoping to learn how to not only navigate our differences moving forward but also embrace them. Because as challenging as working in a multicultural setting can be, it’s also a unique, fascinating experience–and a privilege that we wouldn’t trade for anything.

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Oaky-Team-trip-2021

By a multicultural team, for multicultural customers

Here at Oaky we’re not only keenly aware of our own internal cultural differences, but also of the cultural differences in the hospitality industry. Another of our values is “process and data-driven,” and there is certainly a wealth of data to explore on this subject. The cultural background of a guest has a tremendous impact on their travel behaviours and booking patterns.

A great example of this is pricing, and how it is perceived. In so-called “low-context cultures” where communication is largely straightforward (Meyer does a fantastic job of explaining this in her book) threshold pricing (think prices indexed just below a round number, like €9.99) is highly successful. In “high-context” cultures, where meaning is more nuanced and often indirect in communication, round numbers or very exact pricing will drive more conversions.

The country count of our customers is impressive too: we have client properties in over 100 countries. However, this means that we have to design a product that can be used by customers all over the globe. So in order to save hoteliers time and remove any roadblocks to upselling for the guest, Oaky offers translations in 25 languages.

Our knowledge of different cultural perspectives certainly helps us create a better product. As Wouter Wisselink, our Head of Product says, working with a multicultural team “puts you outside your bubble,” allowing you to see the world from a different lens.

What’s more, to make our solution adaptable to vastly different brand cultures, the Oaky software is full of smart customisable features. During the onboarding process, Oaky allows hoteliers to customise their brand by adding their preferred language, guest communication channels, text content and imagery. “We want to align their Oaky with their ‘brand culture,’ to ensure we are an extension of the hotel,” says Duvan Peña Tirado, our Onboarding Specialist. After defining their culture, our customers can adjust our upselling tool to the needs and expectations of the end-users: their guests.

Personalisation is key when creating a solution that will be used by guests from so many different cultures, and Oaky’s list of features allows our customers to personalise the software far beyond language. In addition to designing their own deals, hoteliers can pick and choose from a comprehensive Deal Library that we’ve created. By having a well-researched guest profile, you can add culture-specific upselling deals to make your guests blown away by your personalised approach. To help you get inspired, we’ve put together this culture deck that is filled with multicultural upselling deals ideas.

We also recently refined the Guest Segmentation tool. This clever feature gives hotels the ability to “segment” their guests based on details such as length of stay, age, booking source, gender, and other criteria–and then to alter their communication and the deals they offer accordingly. By using our Segmentation, you can rest assured that the right deal will land in your guest’s inbox. If you are eager to learn more about this handy feature, chat with one of our upselling experts.

The result? By using Oaky, hotels are able to completely tailor their upselling strategy to each guest. In doing so, they not only are more likely to drive conversions but also to improve the guest experience by keeping the offers relevant. It’s one of the many ways our software brings value to hoteliers–and we always have more exciting updates in the works.

Any questions about Oaky? Feel free to reach out!

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Marieke Wisse
Head of Marketing
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