Hospitality Industry Has Image Problem

The hospitality industry needs to change its image to recruit more qualified, passionate people, according to one of the leading educators in the field.

Gray Shealy, executive director of the Master’s in Hospitality Management Degree program at Georgetown University, wrote in a Skift blog that one of the main problems is the stigma associated with the word, “hospitality.”

Shealy makes six main points, which are condensed below.

Hospitality isn’t tourism, and it’s not servile:  Tourism refers to the operations, theory and practice of traveling, whereas hospitality pertains to the close, welcoming relationship that a host extends to a guest. While this distinction is sometimes blurred, a greater problem is the association of hospitality with servitude, because this discourages potentially outstanding employees to pursue a career in a seemingly more respectable field.

The hospitality industry has cultural stigmas: Some cultures regard working for a hotel or restaurant as inferior, whereas actually it can be glamorous, prosperous and enriching.

Hospitality has a huge marketing problem: Employment opportunities in the industry aren’t being presented in the best possible ways. As a result, jobs are often thought of servile, in the sense that the host is beneath the guest. The passion, pride and talent required to work in the industry needs to be better promoted.

Hospitality is respect for others: Prospective employees don’t always realize the substantial efforts upon which the industry is founded. It’s commonly assumed that excellent service simply means being friendly and accommodating. But actually, the organization and training of employees is very detailed, and emphasizes the importance of a multitude of things, such as knowing guests’ names, looking into their eyes while conversing and leaving thoughtful notes for them.

Careers in hospitality are secretly dynamic and captivating: Many travelers see only the frontline staffs working at reception desks, and servers in restaurants. But actually, a vast array of management jobs is available, as well as a wide diversity of other positions in areas such as real estate, IT, marketing and branding.

Hospitality employees must be passionate, educated, respected and inspired: Young job-hunters are looking for jobs that make a positive difference. The hospitality industry provides opportunities for them to become more humble, open-minded, worldly and savvy. It also establishes a motivation to take care of others.

Shealy concludes his blog by emphasizing that the industry needs to return to its core values to attract new employees.

“The hospitality industry needs to go back to its roots to attract a passionate next generation of employees and show them what it really means to be hosts and purveyors of honorous human relationships,” he wrote.

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