Improving Service Quality in Hospitality

Executive Summary

Empowerment is an approach that is not only used in the hospitality industry, but also in other sectors of the economy. Empowerment bestows individuals and organizations with the power to identify opportunities and take advantage of the opportunities. The hospitality industry is experiencing growth and has been identified as a major contributor to the economies of many countries in terms of international trade and local trade. The hospitality industry has received much attention from various and has therefore been defined and understood using various schools of thought. Contrary to the previous belief that the hospitality industry just like any other industry is commercial in terms of definition and objectives, the hospitality industry has been identified has having a strong link socially. Social link stems from the fact that most of the activities carried out in the hospitality industry, have actually been going on in most societies. Taking care of guest or travelers constituted a very important responsibility in traditional societies.

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Some communities even went ahead and took care of total strangers. Whatever the driving force for such actions between then and now, the general observation is that hospitality has a social perspective. Hospitality also has a private aspect that s very important in the provision of quality services. Private aspect is the understanding that the hotel should genuinely be committed to the provision of quality services with respect to specific needs of customers. The economic aspect on the other hand is geared towards ensuring that a hospitality organization provides services that are competitive. The realization of social, private and economic aspects of hospitality is important towards the identification of opportunities and taking advantage of the opportunities. Empowerment has advantage over other approaches in that it is pro-active in nature. In the service sector the ability to anticipate the needs of consumer is very important for overall business success.

Introduction

The hospitality industry is an economical sector that places great emphasis on the provision of quality service. As outlined by Yu (1999), for the past three decades the service industry has experienced growth in both the developed and developing countries, and a greater contributor of this growth is the hospitality industry. According to Barrows & Powers (2008), hospitality industry is the world’s largest industry and it contributes significantly to the world’s economy. Hospitality industry accounts for 10.3 % of the total economic distribution of the world. This observation just emphasizes on the need to optimize on the quality of services provided by the hospitality industry to ensure that its productivity is optimized. Provision of quality services is aimed at satisfying customers and establishing standards within the industry. Empowerment is a strategy that is aimed towards the equipping with the relevant skills that will enable an individual or an organization to take advantage of the opportunities available. The most important consideration during empowerment is that capacity of one to identify opportunities. After the identification of the opportunities available, it is then upon the organization to be equipped, using various strategies and approaches to take advantage of the opportunities and eventually have the capacity of arriving at its objectives. Opportunities in the hospitality industry are many. (Powers & Barrows, 2009).

It is a fact that globalization has transformed hospitality industry and given it a global perspective. One of the primary contributors to the industry is Tourism and the Hotel industry. There is therefore the need to view the provision of quality services from a global perspective rather than from a local perspective. Culture is essential an area of consideration when quality service delivery is viewed from an international perspective. According to Yu (1999), in every country hospitality industry occupies a significant portion of the service industry sector. Just like most other industries within various sectors of the economy, growth is inevitable. Due to globalization growth has been able to traverse borders. Therefore, when a hospitality industry in a local environment ventures into the international market according to Yu, “its overseas development is recognized as international business and its business revenues generated overseas are described as service export.” This explains why even nations will attempt to support their hospitality industries in venturing in the international business. Therefore when seeking ways with which empowerment can be achieved in the delivery of quality services in the hospitality industry a global view is imperative. This report seeks to outline various ways in which empowerment for improving service quality in hospitality industry can be achieved.

Background and Literature Review

According to Lashley (2001), the hospitality industry is characterized by deep social aspects that the current approach has not been able to address conclusively. The observation is that these social aspects constitute very important considerations when seeking to understand the hospitality industry. As explained by Lashely (2001), there are various definitions that have been put across that have attempted to define hospitality in holistic manner. Various scholars have outlined that hospitality should not just be looked at just another form of commercial undertaking, and that there should be the appreciation of the anthropological dimensions. Lashley (2001) explains that anthropology considers hospitality as having roots in the inherent behaviors already available in the society. Eventually Lashely propose that hospitality should be viewed from social, economical and private perspective so that a holistic understanding can be obtained. According to Lashley et al (2007), the expansion of hospitality to the international market has drawn interests to study hospitality from a social perspective. There has been the observation that giving other areas of intellect such as social sciences room in the study of hospitality has the capacity to improve the management in the hospitality industry in general. Furthermore, when the industry is studied from multiple fields there is a chance that the provision of services will be optimized due to the understanding of the variables that affect the industry.

Lashley (2001) emphasizes on the need to analyze the “social context in which particular hospitality activities takes place. It is only through recent studies as explained by Lashley (2001), that hospitality has advanced to the consideration of various social aspects. Lashley (2001) writes that:

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In contemporary pre-industrial societies, and earlier historical periods in developed Western societies, hospitality and the duty to entertain both neighbours and strangers represents more of a moral imperative. Frequently the duty to provide hospitality, act with generosity as a host and to protect visitors was more than a matter left to the preferences of individuals. Beliefs about hospitality and obligations to others were located in views and visions about the nature of society and the natural order of things. Thus any failure to act appropriately was treated with social condemnation.

This statement outlines how silently hospitality has been in the society for long and outlines the fact that even before hospitality was commercialized, it existed in the social perspective. The bottom line to Lashley’s (2001) explanations is that when hospitality is viewed from the social perspective it becomes even more practical. This is because human beings are endowed with the knowledge of the best way that they can treat other human beings. It is a natural responsibility of every person to treat the other person well. Therefore it is only natural that an organization in the hospitality industry will know how treat guests right. This knowledge is further galvanized by the result of studies that have been conducted in the hospitality industry which emphasize on the need to provide quality services. Lashley (2001) continue to emphasize on the fact that hospitality is universal. This is because every community has the value that it is only right to treat guests hospitably. As outlined by Kandampully, Mok & Spars (2001), the provision of quality services requires that the customer is provided with the assistance they may need. Most organizations in the service sector ignore this fact and assume that customer service is just about answering of queries from customers. Customers are already aware that the customer service is being paid to answer questions from them and every organization does that. However, for an organization to stand out in the area of customer care there must be a genuine sense of the willingness to provide this customer care. The only way to do this is via customer assistance and anticipating the needs of customers.

Key Issues

According to Kandampully, Bok & Sparks (2001), the provision of quality services alone has the capacity of improving the number of customers that utilize a particular service. Increase in the consumer base in business translates to increased revenues when price remains constant. It therefore implies that the provision of quality services can actually be an approach employed by organizations in the hospitality industry to ensure business success. The concept as outlined by Kandampully, Bok & Sparks is very simple and direct: “satisfied guests will be more likely to extend their stay, return to the destination, and recommend the property to the potential guests. Organizations spend huge amounts of their revenues towards marketing which outlines the importance of making known the services that an organization provides in the wider market. Various strategies have been employed, but the general realization is that in most cases companies come up with complex methodologies that are either impractical or lack cost effectiveness. In the hospitality industry, the provision of quality services can contribute significantly to the marketing portfolio of an organization.

The provisions of quality service goes beyond just the perfection of the already existing services. Providing quality services imply that an organization is both innovative and creative. Service is particularly sensitive in this perspective because the nature of services provided by an organization can be the sole determinant of whether the organization commands a competitive advantage or not. This observation is supported by a case study outlined by Fojt (2006). In 1983 the British Airways launched a programme that aimed at rejuvenating its position in the market as well as establishing competitive advantage against other players in the airline industry. The programme sought to improve the quality of services the airline offered under the slogan of “Customer First,” the driving force of this programme as used by the airline was that: “putting customer first-if we don’t someone else will.” The whole programme underscores a realization by the airline that the provision of quality services alone can steer it to great heights. In the same year that the programme was launched the airline was able to rake a gross profit of $71 million. The surprising observation was that the industry in general made a huge loss of $ 1.7billion. The British Airways was not only able to expand its consumer base but also increased the number of travelers that remained loyal to the airline. Therefore, the provision of quality service can be a difference between organization that incur losses and the ones that attract profits. The primary objective of any organization is to make profits because profits assure an organization of survival in the market. In the contemporary business environment, competition has become very stiff to the point that the discovery of only one move that can place an organization ahead of other competitors is very crucial. Provision of quality services is one such move.

The basic determinants of price are demand and supply. Therefore, consumer demand can determine the amount of revenue that an organization attracts from the provision of a particular service. Provision of quality services implies that a company is ready and willing to customize its services to fit the needs of various segments of the population. (Buttle & Bowie, 2004). A company that ventures in the provision of quality services will not miss the benefits presented by the customization of services. The provision of quality services is supported by the knowledge on the needs of consumers and the ability to anticipate the needs even before consumers ask for them. According to Kandampully, Mok & Spars (2001),

A survey conducted by Lodging Hospitality, topflight business people use and expect the amenities of home including services such as basic cable television, newspaper delivery, coffee, room service, fitness facilities, and laundry/dry-cleaning.

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The ability of an airline company to recognize these needs and provide them to consumers implies that most topflight business people will prefer to use their services. This stems from the need to provide quality services. Eventually such an organization that is conscious of the need to provide customized services for different groups of customers will experience increased consumer demand as compared to other organizations.

Findings under Issues

According to Ginnodo (1997), empowerment means to: “provide with means and opportunity to make decisions and take actions which directly affect the customer. In analyzing this definition Ginnodo outlines that the phrase “provide” implies to give and that a leader or leaders in a particular sector should in a definite, understandable and efficient manner make available. The process of making available should be done in an orderly and conscious manner to ensure that those who are being provided with something are both aware and willing to accept. The “means” imply that the leader or leaders must also make whatever is being provided easily accessible to. The basic strategy in the provision of the ‘means’ is via training. Training ensures that the recipient of whatever is being provided is both aware of the aspects and the scope to which what is being provided will be beneficial. Therefore the recipient will strive to gather the important techniques from the training. The “opportunity” implies that after the training is completed the recipient will be given the chance to try out what has been learnt in a practical way. “Opportunity” drives that training because there is no need to provide an individual with skills without giving the chance to utilize the skills. “Which directly affects the customer” implies that major point of concern is the customer. The whole process is therefore identified as being customer oriented. This definition acts as guidance when seeking to outline various ways in which empowerment for improving service quality in the hospitality industry can be achieved. There will be a general observation that all the empowerment strategies follow this simple definition in one way or another.

Most service providing sectors and specifically the hospitality industry the resources are mostly described as being labor intensive. This implies that even in the face of great technological advancements, the hospitality industry will still require much emphasis and investment in the human resource. (Hayes & Ninemeier, 2008). Furthermore as outlined by Kandampully, Cok & Sparks (2001), the hospitality industry places greater emphasis on the interaction with guests. As outlined by Zapoli (2005), taking care of guests is as important as taking care of a restaurant. Taking care of employees translates to more customers which further translate to more revenue. Therefore, any organization in the service industry needs to have a team of employees that are knowledgeable of the requirements of the industry, and are motivated enough to apply their knowledge towards customer satisfaction. The first and foremost consideration in proper human resource management is the recruitment of employees.

It is often a challenge to most managers when venturing on the exercise of recruiting of employees. The ability to obtain the right employees implies that all the following stages of human resource management have higher chances of progressing smoothly. Recruitment of employees in a restaurant requires that a deep understanding of the operations of the restaurant be put into perspective. Aspects such as the size of the restaurant should also be put into consideration. The second consideration in management of human resource is training. Training should be structured is such a way that it endows the employees with the necessary skills they will require to operate in the environment. Furthermore training also prepares employees for challenges they might face. According to Lahsley (1996), there are various ways in which the human resource can be empowered as a way of ensuring the delivery of quality services to customers. Employees can be empowered through participation, through involvement and through commitment. According to Lashley (1996),

Empowering through Participation is closely related to Bowen and Lawler’s definition of empowerment because it is concerned with giving employees some decision making authority in aspects of work organisation which had formally been the domain of management.

Empowerment through Involvement relates to those initiatives where managers are chiefly concerned to gain from the experiences and expertise of employees. Aims to improve organisational communication processes in all directions are important. Process which involve team briefings, consultation and joint problem solving enable managers to both promote organisational aims, and to learn from employee experiences. Decisions about actions and responses are taken by managers.

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Empowerment through Commitment often overlap with the above, because both these would aim to improve employee commitment through the changes in working arrangements introduced. Some initiatives, however, are close to Barbee and Botts notion that empowerment is about gaining greater commitment to delighting customers’. Here employees are being encouraged to accept responsibility for the service encounter, without necessarily having more authority; these initiatives might be described as intensifying work without additional remuneration.

Lahsley (1996) goes on to provide an example of empowerment through participation. Lashely explains that a commercial by the Marriot Hotels outlined the ideal reception of a customer by employees. The advertisement was meant to show customers an example of the services they should expect when they visit the hotel. However, Lashley goes on to explain that the advertisement cal also act to empower employees. In a study conducted by Lashley (2000) that analyzed various aspects of empowerment through involvement there was the realization that developing a sense of personal efficacy is fundamental towards the realization of successful empowerment through involvement. Lashley (2000) provides the example of an empowerment strategy that was employed by TGI Restaurants. The strategy awarded top performing employees by allowing them to have more control over their working patters and shifts. The result is that the top performing employees confessed that they were more comfortable because they were able to adjust their shifts with regard to their needs. Lashley also established that by giving employees more control of their working shifts improved their level of commitment thereby empowering them through commitment. Employees who had more control over their working hours were more committed to the work they were doing. This is because most of them anticipated the rest that would come afterwards. The general realization is that a great deal of proper management of employees can be achieved by focusing on empowering the employees.

Recommendations

The general realization of this report is that service quality constitutes an important aspect in the hospitality industry. The report has used many examples in various environments under the service industry due to the assumption that hospitality is universal. (Pizam & Tesone, 2009 In a hotel the provision of quality services can be the only factor that ensures that a particular hotel stays competitively ahead of others. Therefore, it is important that any player in the industry places much emphasis on the provision of quality services. Such an initiative should be undertaken with clearly outlined objectives so that the progress can be qualitatively and quantitatively measured. The report has sought to outline how empowerment can be used to ensure service quality. Empowerment consists of various fundamental considerations that need to be put into perspective. The observations from this report are just general in nature and each and every hotel should customize the general ideas to fit within specific perspective. This is because different hotels operate within different environments and sometimes even serve different clientele. Furthermore, the employees who are the primary focus of the empowerment venture should not be viewed in general perspective. A fundamental consideration is also the way in which the hotel obtains its human resource. (Hayes & Ninemeier, 2009). During advertisements the hotel should clearly outline on the qualities it seeks from candidates.

This will give the hotel an easy time when conducting the interview and recruitment process. The kind of employees that a hotel recruits will determine the future management of human resource in the hotel. It is always tedious and expensive for an organization to conduct a recruitment process only to end up with the wrong candidates. Therefore, the process of recruitment should be done in a professional manner. Preferable a hotel can seek the services of a reputable recruitment agency to conduct the exercise. After recruiting employees, it is important that they undergo thorough training to ensure that they are conversant with the mission and the objectives of the hotel. (Chen, 2008). Although training is always deemed by many organizations as an expensive process, it is actually cheap in the long run. This is because it is during training when employees can learn of the common mistakes that are usually made and therefore learn to avoid those mistakes. When such an approach is taken it gives the hotel an easier time when it comes to conducting the various forms of employee empowerment because the managerial will already be aware of the kind of employees that the hotel has. (Baldwin & Randall, 2003). Employee empowerment should take place in a customized manner and should be backed by extensive studies. It is an exercise that should not be done haphazardly, otherwise it might be counterproductive. Customization will require that various aspects concerning employees are though over critically before initiation. Consideration of all these aspects will certainly assure an organization of success.

Conclusion

Empowerment is an approach that is not only used in the hospitality industry, but also in other sectors of the economy. Empowerment bestows individuals and organizations with the power to identify opportunities and take advantage of the opportunities. The hospitality industry is experiencing growth and has been identified as a major contributor to the economies of many countries in terms of international trade and local trade. The hospitality industry has received much attention from various and has therefore been defined and understood using various schools of thought. Contrary to the previous belief that the hospitality industry just like any other industry is commercial in terms of definition and objectives, the hospitality industry has been identified has having a strong link socially. Social link stems from the fact that most of the activities carried out in the hospitality industry, have actually been going on in most societies. Taking care of guest or travelers constituted a very important responsibility in traditional societies.

Some communities even went ahead and took care of total strangers. Whatever the driving force for such actions between then and now, the general observation is that hospitality has a social perspective. Hospitality also has a private aspect that s very important in the provision of quality services. Private aspect is the understanding that the hotel should genuinely be committed to the provision of quality services with respect to specific needs of customers. The economic aspects on the other hand are geared towards ensuring that a hospitality organization provides services that are competitive. The realization of social, private and economic aspects of hospitality is important towards the identification of opportunities and taking advantage of the opportunities. Empowerment has advantage over other approaches in that it is pro-active in nature. In the service sector the ability to anticipate the needs of consumer is very important for overall business success.

Reference List

Baldwin, D. & Randall, J. (2003). Streetwise Restaurant management: A Comprehensive Guide to Successfully Owning and Running a Restaurant. New York, NY: Adams Media.

Buttle, F. & Bowie, D. (2004). Hospitality Marketing: An Introduction. Burlington: Elsevier.

Chen, J. (2008). Advances in Hospitality and Leisure. Bingley: Emerald.

Fojt, M. (2006). Strategic Direction: The Airline Industry. Emerald.

Ginnodo, B. (1997). The Power of Empowerment: What Experts Say and 16 Actionable Case Studies. Arlington: Pride Publications.

Hayes, D. & Ninemeier, J. (2009). Human Resource Management in the Hospitality Industry. New Jersey: John-Wiley & Sons.

Kandampully, J., Mok, C. & Sparks, B. (2001). Service Quality Management in Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure. Binghamton: Haworth Hospitality Press.

Lashley et al (2007). Hospitality: A Social Lens. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Lashley, C. (2001. Empowerment: HR strategies for service excellence. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.

Pizam, A. & Tesone, D. (2009). Principles of Management for the Hospitality Industry. New York: Elsevier.

Powers, T. & Barrows, C. (2009). Introduction to Management in the Hospitality Industry: A Study Guide. New Jersey: John-Wiley & Sons.

Yu, L. (1999). The International Hospitality Business: Management and Operations. Binghamton: Haworth Hospitality Press.

Zapoli, R. (2005). How to Succeed in the Restaurant Business: Crunching Numbers. Universal Books.

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