I am on holiday this week so I thought I would just share with you a shortened account of a conversation I had last week.

I was having a breakfast meeting, in an hotel in Brussels, with a Bayard Associate when the conversation turned (again) to the incredible cost of employing staff in Belgium and the extortionate level of taxation and social security that has to be paid over and above the actual salary.

I commented to my breakfast companion that it is amazing how the major hotels (across the globe) seem to be getting away with employing illegal immigrants in a way that smaller companies could never do. His reply was:
“But Harley, speaking on behalf of the hotel, our hotel does not employ illegal immigrants; the staff you might be referring to are representatives of an international workforce who come to Brussels on an international training program, and all this to improve your level of enjoyment and comfort while staying with our hotel!”
“is that true?” I asked,
“No” he replied, “I just made it up”
“You could have fooled me”, I replied “it sounds just like the plausible nonsense that one might read in the hotel information brochure.”

So that’s it, no more illegal immigrant workers, from now on everyone is on international training programs, and why not? Who give’s a dam who does what and where? Most business people want a global economy and freedom to work and travel where they like.

I, for one, would like to see are more international training program employees, so that, when I am having breakfast in an hotel, I can simply place my breakfast order with a waitress (or waiter) who will then have the courtessy of briniging it to me at my table, without my having to wander around trying to find it for myself. Is this really too much to ask? In some four and five star hotels they do not even bother bringing tea and coffee to your table anymore!

I am fed up with having to do everything myself, ‘self banking’, self breakfast’, I just don’t see the point! Who benefits? I do not see any real evidence of reduced bank charges or hotel bills as a result? Go to a cheap Bed & Breakfast hotel in the UK and you will pay a fraction of the price of a four star hotel (often with exactly the same amenities) but have the added benefit of a really sumptuous breakfast, served at your table, by a friendly and sympathetic employee. If the only way giant hotel chains can do this is by employing a few extra Asian or East European trainees, then so much the better. I might even be tempted to learn to order breakfast in a few additional languages, to make the exchange of information a little more fun and reliable!