What creates your first impression of the country you’re traveling to for the first time?
It can be architecture, cuisine or even the weather on the day of your arrival, but there’s one thing that can change your final impression for better or worse. It’s people you meet during your trip.
That’s why it’s crucial to surround yourself with like-minded, trustworthy and resourceful people, preferably locals, who can not only be your friends during a trip but also assist you with any travel-related issue whether help you with shopping or translate at a conference.
In the lead-up to FIFA World Cup 2018 we came up with an idea that football lovers coming to witness this huge event in Russia may experience some real problems like language barrier, lack of relevant information and simply confusion, and they would definitely need MeetnGreetMe to solve these problems and make their stay in Russia even more incredible.
Thant’s why we decided to expand our network of local assistants in the 11 host cities of FIFA 2018: Moscow, Kaliningrad, Saint Petersburg, Volgograd, Kazan, Nizhniy Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi, and Yekaterinburg. We have found and trained resourceful local insiders in host cities and also asked some of them why they decided to become MeetnGreeters and why it’s so important to support travelers during FIFA World Cup 2018.
Without any doubt, the World Cup is one of the biggest and most exciting events and it’s a great honor for our country to host it. Moreover, it’s a unique opportunity to show hospitality and kindness of Russian people and overcome negative stereotypes about the country, which are, unfortunately, particularly relevant lately. For most of the tourists coming to FIFA 2018 in Russia, it’s going to be their first visit to the country and their first experience of it. As we know, the first impression says everything and is shown to be very hard to change, that’s why it’s extremely important to make the tourists’ first visit as positive as possible. This impression is created by different factors and a MeetnGreeter is the one who can plan each of them and help the travelers get the most out of their trip.
For those who have been to Russia before, having a MeetnGreeter behind your back can help open up Russia from a new side, learn about fun facts and explore hidden gems and some unique places.
For travelers, it’s a real struggle to navigate in the city, to know how not to overpay for goods and services and to learn about the history of the city themselves. As a MeetnGreeter, I see myself as a representative of the country and it’s a great honor to be in charge of their first impression which will be created according to the services I provide, the places I show and things I say the tourist, so it’s a great responsibility as well. I’m very sociable and I’m fond of meeting new people, learning about their countries and cultures, so being a MeetnGreeter is a great benefit for me as well.
I like the idea of the open world. The more personal experience with people from different cultures we have, the more we learn about the world and the better we understand each other.
For international travelers, Russia remains a difficult country due to the political situation, bureaucracy, and language barrier. That’s why I wish to help tourists explore Russia, see its another side and have a great time here because it’s really worth it.
Winston Churchill once famously described Russia as a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. I think that for many tourists the mystery remains, that is why once people who love to travel and open new horizons decide to see it — famous Russian proverb reflects it perfectly — “Words are bit wind, but seeing is believing”.
Russia is known for its centuries-old history of traditions and hospitality, from a cheerful meeting with a richly laid table to wires with gifts and a joyful expectation of a new meeting.
Generosity, warm-heartedness, and care — these three words describe Russian character — they will be very pleased to help the guest in everything.
While abroad, I always thought about the impression I make on people, even in small things, presenting my country, and I would like our guests to take away only pleasant memories.
A positive impression of the country always consists of small things and the task a MeetnGreeter is to be ready to help with is to see and share the beauty of nature, architecture and show a high level of hospitality.
I also think that intercultural communication is very important: we can find out something new about people of different nationalities and they can do the same, so this is a “win-win situation” for both sides — it’s a part of a progress and personal development.
In my opinion, the desire to help people is an integral part of a well-developed culture of a country and good upbringing of a person. As a person who loves to travel, I like to help tourists because since the traveler discovers a new country for himself as another new world and every day spent in a new place consists of small moments that become wonderful memories — I am happy to be a part of it.
FIFA World Cup 2018 matches and fan fests are a great opportunity for meeting new people. Sometimes I think that the real reason for such huge and expensive events to happen is bringing together people from different parts of the world, connecting them and making them closer to each other. After all, the most important thing that happens during the championship is not the score but experience.
Whether this experience is going to be positive or negative, it depends mostly on locals: if they are ready to help, if they can recommend some great parks or restaurants to visit, if they can share their love to the city. It depends on each and every person the tourist will meet during their stay: a waiter in a restaurant, a bus driver, a guide. The better the interaction and communication is between a guest and local people, the better impression can be created.
It’s great that now I can contribute to this as a MeetnGreeter and not only help people see the best of Kaliningrad and enjoy their stay but also profit myself: connect with new people, exchange cultural experiences, practice English and improve the image of Russia among international tourists. Moreover, as well as Uber and Airbnb, MeetnGreetMe helps build international networking and unite people from different countries, and it’s a great tool for a borderless communication between peers.
For me, the whole sense to help foreigners in my mother country is about sharing and telling them my story and the story of the local people: how we live here, where we like to go and spend our free time, how we talk to each other and what are our national traditions. It’s very exciting to meet new people and to get to know about their life, especially if it’s different from ours. It motivates a lot because you never know who you meet and how it can change your life. We should spread that experience much more in Russia because having traveled myself I know for sure that every country is different and unique. It’s especially true speaking about my country. You’d better see it once and break all stereotypes you’ve heard before.
I would love to host guests as I am a very friendly and sociable person. Traveling abroad, I know how complicated it could be without any connections and not knowing the local language. I would like to be a representative of my country and show the best side of the city. I know different sides of the city, both touristic ones, and hidden gems. This could help tourists see Moscow from a local’s point of view. There are a lot of stereotypes and rumors about Russia. If I could change one of the assumptions and turn the image for the better I would be happier. We live in a very modern and safe environment, and I want to share Russian culture with international travelers.
On the one hand, I love my home city, on the other hand I like to communicate with people from all around the world. This combination makes being a tour guide and a MeetnGreeter a perfect hobby and a part time job. I’m a degreed art historian and to me telling about art and history of my city and country and letting people discover some hidden and little-promoted places is a pure joy, especially when in the end I can see they enjoyed their time here. Moreover, I’m a very well organized person and I like putting things in order. Having the journey well organized is a key to the great new experience but some people don’t want to waste their time and energy on that, so I am always pleased to help.
Russia is a great destination for tourists for so many reasons. It’s the biggest country in the world and one can explore it for years. It has a great history and culture. From the seas to the mountains, from the old churches to the contemporary art museums – each person can find something interesting for them in my country. Russian people are well-known for their hospitality. Another important thing is that Russia’s still rather cheap for foreigners. Moreover, it’s so diverse: old, modern and exotic at the same time!
Excited to go to Russia? Request MeetnGreetMe services in your destination and enjoy the care-free trip even more!