Lost in translation: FF&E terms
Lost in translation: FF&E terms
24 MARCH 2010 8:26 AM

Furniture, fixtures & equipment terminology differs around the world. Here’s a refresher course on how to speak FF&E internationally.

Daniel Englender, Bill Cheung and Darlene Henke contributed to this series.

Alan Benjamin

When the designer of a project in London and I were discussing which fabric to use for the valence, we kept going in circles. Finally, she stated she didn’t think the selected fabric would go with the rest of the bed treatment, and I said, “What do you mean?”

In the United States, the valence is above the drapery, mounted at the ceiling, but in Europe, the valence is around the bottom of the bed! What is called the valence in the U.S. is called the pelmet in Europe. And what is called the dust ruffle or bed skirt in the U.S. is called the valence in Europe.

This is just one example of the vocabulary differences found throughout the world. Other key points to know include: OSE, operating supplies and equipment; often called HOE, hotel operating equipment in Asia; and “general contractor” in the U.S. is often called the “main contractor” outside the U.S.

While there are many items to cover in terms of shipping and logistics, the only country in the world that does not use international shipping terms is the U.S. Much like the differences in the metric and standard units of measure, the U.S. generally does not use or recognize International Commercial Terms, known as “INCO” terms.  Some of the key INCO terms are:
EXW—Ex Works
FCA—free carrier
FAS—free alongside ship
FOB—free on board
CIF—Cost, Insurance & Freight
CFR—cost and freight
CPT—Carriage paid to named destination
CIP—Carriage, insurance paid to named destination
DAF—delivered at frontier
DES—delivered ex ship
DEQ—delivered ex quay
DDU—Delivered duty unpaid
DDP—Delivered duty paid

Overall, just as we discussed the importance of the project having a clear, understood by all parties differentiation document so that every party understands the scope of their products and services to be contributed to a project, it is equally essential to make sure everyone knows each other’s “terms of art.”

What is common knowledge in one hospitality specialty, whether it be architecture, purchasing or logistics, is truly a “foreign language” (even in the same dialect) for many others on the project team. Ask questions, do not take anything for granted and as they taught us all in grammar school, the only bad question is the one that is not asked. Remember, if you are on a short schedule, you certainly do not have time to do any phase of the project twice, and we all know it is far less embarrassing to ask what an industry specific acronym, of “term of art” means, than to have made a mistake that was 100-percent avoidable if all consultants simply understood each other better.

About this series: This is the third article of a four-part series that will examine how all aspects of the capital expenditure and FF&E process can differ around the world. Brands, owners and consultants operating for the first time in a foreign area will find useful guidance about regional customs and business practices.

Coming next week: Currency conversions can create headaches for international projects. The last article in this series will discuss decisions to be made to alleviate some of the stress.  

Alan Benjamin (abenjamin@benjaminwest.com), a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (www.ishc.com), is president and founder of Benjamin West in Boulder, Colorado.

Daniel Englender (denglender@benjaminwest.com), a member of the ISHC, is managing director of Benjamin West London.

Darlene Henke (dhenke@auditlogistics.com) is president of Audit Logistics LLC in Louisville, Colorado.

Bill Cheung (bcheung@benjaminwest.com) is managing director of Benjamin West Hong Kong.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com or its parent company, Smith Travel Research and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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