Story by Bryce Sanders …
You are not cut out to be a tour guide. You probably don’t run a hotel. Don’t discover this the hard way. You need a plan for entertaining your new friends in your home town.
How Does This Happen?
You’ve made new friends aboard the ship. After six days you are drinking buddies. You share the same interests. Shortly after telling the bartender “We need another bottle” you say: “You MUST come and visit us! You MUST stay at our house! I insist! We will have such a great time!
Entertaining Out of Town Guests
If you live in Northern New Jersey and your new friends live in Central New Jersey, entertaining isn’t a big deal. You invite them out to a local restaurant or have dinner at your home. You invite a few other friends. You make it a party.
Problems develop when they’ve flown a distance and there’s the expectation they are your guests when they arrive in town for a week or more. Ben Franklin is credited as saying “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Too much togetherness can be challenging and expensive.
Eight Things You Should Do
Here are eight ways you can deliver on your promise and make the stay exceptional.
- Word the invitation “You must stay with us for a weekend. The expectation is the visit will be part of a larger trip they have planned. If you live in NYC and their entire trip is in the Big Apple, they book a hotel for a few nights.
- Help them design their visit. They are coming West to East. Maybe they are European visitors. You live in NYC. You help them plan a trip to Washington, DC, Philadelphia or Boston. They can take the train or bus. They see great sights; they spend a couple of nights in each place.
- Bracket their trip. They are over here for ten days. Their trip starts with a couple of nights at your house. They travel somewhere. They return for a couple of nights at your house before heading home. This makes great sense if you are also picking them up and dropping them off at the airport.
- Plan sightseeing for them. No one knows your city like you. Pick a few highlights. Take them around and show them. Put yourself in their shoes. When they get home their friends will ask: “What did you see?” You want them to hit the highlights.
- Ask what they want to see and do. This will sound contradictory. We planned sightseeing in point 4. Isn’t that enough? They may have read about a great restaurant or store they want to visit. They may want to see a football game. Find this out beforehand and build it into the schedule.
- Take them to your favorite local places. You became drinking buddies aboard ship. Bring them to your favorite tavern or restaurant. They will meet your friends.
- Share your friends. Put together a BBQ or dinner party at your home. Invite some other couples. If they are from another country, they will meet real Americans in a relaxed setting.
- Build in down time. Get them back midafternoon. Let them know when and where you’re planning dinner. Give them a few hours to snooze, just like onboard the ship.
Seven Things You Shouldn’t Do
It’s easy to make mistakes that can cause tension or awkwardness.
- Don’t overschedule. When sightseeing, you will get a lot less done than you think. People spend more time in stores. They linger. They don’t like being kept to a timetable.
- Don’t underwrite the visit. You might feel as hosts, you are responsible for everything. You think about work conferences where “you never have to put your hand in your wallet.” This isn’t that kind of trip. Treat them for one meal out, explaining it’s a welcome. They will understand everything else gets split.
- Upon arrival, don’t ask when they are leaving. Realistically, you want to plan ahead, specifically when you need to get them to the airport for their return trip. You might inquire about their flight schedules before they arrive. Asking “When are you leaving?” the moment you pick them up goes down wrong.
- Don’t try to impress them. Your city has a great restaurant. Famous chef. Michelin stars. Dinner is about $200/head. Don’t plan this unless they specifically request it. You may put them in an awkward position when splitting the bill. They may put you in an awkward position by thanking you for treating them to such a great dinner!
- Don’t drink and drive. Your party hearty lifestyle worked at sea because everyone weaves their way back to their stateroom. This doesn’t work stateside when you need to drive home after a night out.
- Don’t say: “Why don’t you borrow my car and go exploring?” So much can go wrong. If they want to take a road trip, bring them to the local car rental place. Let them rent, drive and assume responsibility.
- Don’t hover. You might assume friends from overseas have no idea how to buy a plane ticket, order in restaurants or explore on their own. They do. Let them go off on their own. If they run into problems, they can text you for help.
Know what you are committing yourself to before you extend invitations. Only do it if you are serious. Spell out the ground rules in advance; “You must stay with us a couple of nights on your trip.” Local knowledge has great value. You can show your shipboard friends a great time when they come to visit you.