The Hospitality Industry, its History and the Management of Hospitality

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The Hospitality industry is based upon the management of the hospitality experience related to the provision of food, beverage, accommodation and entertainment. The hospitality experience is a combination of the integrated aspects of sociology, management, psychology, marketing and so on. These disciplines link the industry of hospitality management with all other concepts and industries. The hospitality industry refers to the commercialization of the cordial reception, welcome and entertainment of guests as they come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This paper would revolve around a number of aspects in relation to the hospitality industry, its history and the management of hospitality in contemporary society. It would also aim to answer the questions on how contemporary hospitality has evolved with the passage of time and what is expected of it in the future.


Hospitality management is the science of providing services that enable the consumer to not only avail the resources but to also create a unique and indefinable experience out of the visit. Formerly, hospitality management focused on providing customers with the ambiance, food, and environment that they would find appealing and comfortable. This definition of hospitality has now progressed into the provision of an experience attained through these resources that combines all the aspects into one component that provides an intangible commodity of enabling the consumers to experience and live through the facets of leisure and relaxation. The creation of an experience involves trying to provide the customer with the experiences hat yield satisfaction from the customer. The provision of service leads to a feeling of satisfaction or dissatisfaction from the customer. An experience, however, is what leads the customers they would like to have by providing them with activities that interest, enthuse and excite them. Hospitality therefore, as proposed by Hemmington (2007) defines behavior as well as experience.

Modern hospitality is more focused upon the creation of an experience out of a mere visit. The meaning and significance of the term hospitality has evolved greatly over the past decades. In older times, the acceptance and incorporation of strangers within a society and its culture was considered an act of goodwill and virtue. Hospitality in earlier days was limited to domestic boundaries. It was the relationship that prevailed among a guest and a host. A stranger that needs time to adjust in the new environments, culture and rituals need to be treated in a hospitable manner. There were laws that governed the behavior of the host and the guest. The commercialization of hospitality with the advent of the hospitality industry has made it a trade where the guest is expected to pay for services rendered and the host is expected to provide the right quality of services for the right price. The transition through which a stranger passed while settling into a new environment and the way the hosts delivered hospitable behavior is quite similar to the contemporary times, however, modernization has made the emergence of a stranger more commercialized (i.e. customer entering a hotel). Traditionally it was considered inherently virtuous and vital to welcome a guest. This phenomenon is still present in the contemporary hospitality industry as it is very important to welcome customers; the motives however are directed more towards the revenue that is brought by the customer. The overall motives of hospitality provision have evolved greatly. Contrary to old traditions, modern commercial hospitality does not revolve around provide basic necessities such as food and shelter neither does it hold virtuous significance. It does not just provide basic necessities but it also provides means of leisure, enjoyment and other activities. These activities are greatly diversified according to the needs and preferences of the receiver. The concept of revenue and profits through the provision of these services is also a notion that is present in the contemporary hospitality industry. As an example, during historic times travelers were provided with food, shelter and security by the natives in various areas that the travelers moved through. This was thought of as an act of goodwill and a moral obligation of the citizens. In today’s modernized society, travelers still prevail but the provision of food shelter and services has evolved. There is a more diversified range of services offered to the travelers that step into a hotel. That travelers can choose what they prefer and may prefer the experience to be that of leisure and enjoyment. This is of course in return for a payment made by the traveler which is contrary to the traditional customs. During historic times, the concept of the social status of the guest was of no consequence to the host. As stipulated by Plato’s classification of travelers, In the contemporary hospitability industry, however, the social status of the guest or customer is an imperative criterion that determines the nature of service and respect to be rendered. This change is due to the fact that now the provision of hospitable treatment is no longer a virtue present indefinitely irrespective of the characteristics of the guest. Hospitality industries are catering to the more specific needs of the customer in return for a price.

In the past, guests were considered as a disguised presence of god. Guests were treated with great honor and respect and were provided with the best treatment without expecting them to pay for the services. The guests were often strangers to the household and they were incorporated into the household through hospitality. The guests were given food, shelter and often entertainment for them to be incorporated within the household. Women were thought of as mediators between the outsiders and the insiders. Woman’s mediation through sexual behavior was a norm that brought together men from different groups, these bonds were made through exogamy. Exogamy which was the practice of using women as tokens for maintaining relationships with other groups was a common practice. Women’s sexual offerings were thought of as a part of the hospitality while incorporating guests into the group. Strangers were incorporated into groups through sexual relations and having children with the women from the group. The woman may be the wife, sister, daughter of the host or she may be just a member of the community. The provision of sexual relations to a guest was regarded as similar to the provision of food, drink and shelter to the guest. Women also acted as mediators of strangers to guests by providing them with food and drink. The cooking and sharing of the meal are carried out by women and hence allows them to be the mediators that incorporate strangers into guests of a group. The sharing of a meal promotes goodwill among the outside and the inside spheres of the household and gives a feeling of warmth and generosity. Women also incorporated guests through companionship when they were hosting and entertaining their guests.

With the passage of time, the motives behind the provision of services and hospitality have evolved greatly. According to Brotherton and Wood, hospitality can be served for a variety of different motives. It is not necessary that the host would provide a good hospitable behavior and services in order to be seen as a good host, the motives have rather evolved into a give and take situation where the guest in return, pays the guest for the hospitality. The hospitality industry is more commoditized and there s more emphasis on the profit motive than ever before. As mentioned several times, the contemporary hospitality industry is not only focused on the provision of food and shelter. But there is large aspect of leisure and pleasure that is considered as an important factor in providing the best possible alternatives for the customer. Commercial hospitality is different from private hospitality in the respect of the trust and formality between the host and the guest. Commercial hospitality provides services in return of a price which is not the case on provide hospitality. The price is based on economic rationalization of the services provided and focuses on the benefits that are archived in terms of profits; this is done by placing limits to the amount of consumption by the customer. This may be the amount of food consumed, the time spent or the services rendered. There is conflict of interest between the motives of the hosts and that of the guests. The behavior of guests has also changed with the commercialization of the hospitality industry. It is seen that as the guests are paying for the hospitality they do not find it a moral obligation to act in certain manners. The customers of a hotel may behave in ways that they would not normally, since they are paying the hotel for their stay and hospitality. This allows the guests to indulge in behavior that they would not observe otherwise, the staff may regulate their behavior and limit but still they are expected to observe tolerance as they customers are paying for their services and hospitality. (Jones & George, 2007)

As the competition and the awareness for commercial hospitality services have started to increase, the concept of people looking for a sense of place has been an imperial factor. Sense of place can be described as the outcome of the social, psychological and environmental consequences that a place offers. Trying to identify and define a new sense of place or a new identity is analogous to the desire to find something environmentally, culturally, industrially, academically unique. Something that is different from the customary styles of marketing and advertising. Of course, every community in some way is unique to the people who live there, but as a proposition to new individual / corporate investors a simple sense of local pride is not always enough. In fact, in reality, there are many places that do not provide a different and unique experience to the customers and are rather similar to other places. According to studies, it is found that sense of place is a potential factor contributing to the well-being of people and hence, with the passage of time has developed as a valuable construct (Eyles & Williams, 2008). The Food consumption part of the hospitality industry is one of the most advancing sectors of the industry. People are becoming more particular about the experience that they expect from the places that they visit. The experience that the customer gains from a place are depended upon the sense of place that is achieved.

Managers are the people through which the company manages and directs its resources towards achieving its organizational objectives. The managers of the hospitality industry are required to possess the characteristics that would help them achieve the goals of the organization in the best possible manner. The managers can be assigned to local, regional, national or international depending upon their personal attributes and abilities. In order to be a successful manager in the international hospitality industry the manager is required to deal with a variety of people coming from diversified backgrounds, pertaining different ethnic characteristics and dissimilar personalities. Working in foreign countries with people of diverse religions, customs, beliefs and languages, the managers need to maintain a creative and versatile approach towards dealing with the people. Moreover, the owners of international organizations have varied needs, goals and objectives. Managers in the international hospitality industry need to communicate with a more multi-ethnic and multicultural labor force and hence, need to be aware and adaptable of the cultures that they operate in. furthermore, it is imperative for the managers to possess good leadership qualities and communication skills in order to create and maintain good public relations. Being social and adaptable is of equal importance.

There have been numerous definitions that describe culture in its exact context. However, in simple words, culture is the belief and norms of a particular society that has prevailed for a period of time. Culture has a great impact on the hospitality industry. With the advent of the phenomenon of globalization the world is shrinking into a global village, nonetheless, the cultures of the various parts of the world are still diverse. For international hospitality organizations, it is important to take culture into account and adapt to that culture.. The way in which the service is delivered may be different across cultures similarly the personal qualities that are expected while providing services may be different from one culture to another. A smile for example may signify a sense of friendliness and warmth in one culture but could be accepted as a sexual interest in another part of the world. It is however recognized that the personal traits of the provider of services lays a huge impact over the way attitude of the customers, it is hence, important for services to be delivered in a positive manner. These personality traits such as friendliness, politeness and formality are a part of every culture. (Trompenaars & Wooliams, 2004)

Traditionally, females were used as objects of desire and enjoyment offered to the guests. They were also used as tokens to promote kinship among groups. In the contemporary hospitality industry these practices are not seen however, female labor is still sexualized in the industry. Female qualities are used to attract male attention. For example, the job of a receptionist is stereotyped for females as it requires them to display politeness, warmth and friendliness. This type of stereotype convention in the occupations has caused the hospitality industry to create a division between the genders. Many jobs are structured for females in a way as to require them to exhibit their sexuality so as to attract customers in a disguised manner. An example of the delivery of personal traits in providing service can be of the five-star world-renowned hotel chain the ‘holiday inn’. Holiday inn hotels have been providing their customers with the best service in terms of friendliness, attentiveness, politeness and other personal characteristics. These hotels are spread in a number of countries but the personal qualities expressed during the provision of service are similar.

With the passage of time, there is more and more advancement in technology and expertise. This technological advancement reaches across national boundaries and aims to connect all parts of the world with each other. Hospitality evolves according to the changes in tastes, fashion, and fads. It keeps up with the changes in trends. The phenomena of globalization and technological advancements have driven considerable changes in the hospitality industry there have been numerous innovations in the services offered. With the pace at which the world is moving, there are bound to be innumerable innovations till the year 2020. the way in which the food and beverages are served would advance where the customers could virtually create their menus with the ingredients of their own choice beforehand. The hotel industry would become more customized and would cater to the specific needs of the customer such as personalized rooms and accessories. The trend of people moving more towards leisure activities suggests that there would be significant advancements in the entertainment industry as it would become more adventurous and exploratory. Virtual gaming would become an enjoyment availed by everyone. Moreover, there would be emphasis over the convenience at which the customer has access to everything. International barriers would not prevent people from interacting across national boundaries as with the technological advancements there would be more contraction and the world would literally feel like a global village.


In the end, it is important to understand that the hospitality industry is a large part of the global market, with the passage of time and rise in competition around the world, leisure activities are becoming more significant and people are spending more on these luxuries than ever before. With this boom in the hospitality industry there is more advancement in this sector as organizations are coming up with more innovative and imaginative aspects to attract consumers. It is hence, essential to understand study and analyze the relative importance of this vast industry in today’s contemporary society.


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