Innovations and Changes in the Hospitality Industry

Subject: Tourism
Pages: 8
Words: 2001
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: Bachelor

Introduction

The hospitality industry in modern society is not only concerned with a human-centred approach to service. It also implies active interaction between representatives of different cultures, communication in social media, the use of digital technologies and new standards of employment and management. The customer approach to the hospitality industry has also changed. For example, researchers note that customers now tend to pay more for the unique experiential value that the setting provides (Chang, 2018). Entrepreneurs and managers analyse new customer attitudes and patterns of behaviour and conduct research, creating “new knowledge on business decisions in the international hospitality industry” (Altinay, Paraskevas and Jang, 2015, p. 2). Thus, people, including clients, employees and business owners, are influencing the changing tendencies in this area.

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Globalisation and Intercultural Communication

The hospitality industry is mainly connected with tourism and increased opportunities to move from one location to another due to modern transportation options. Globalisation processes make a significant contribution to transforming customer expectations and motivation. Researchers note that the cultural heritage tourism industry is developing rapidly as people are increasingly eager to experience various places and activities (Mansour and Ariffin, 2017). The intention of tourists to get acquainted with the national peculiarities of other countries affects both local and commercial hospitality (Mansour and Ariffin, 2017). Thus, intercultural interaction and communication become one of the main concerns of the companies involved in this market.

This kind of environment and customer expectations affect marketing and advertising. Bowie et al. (2016) state that it is essential to consider all contextual factors and develop a suitable concept in order to design effective marketing strategies. These strategies should reflect customers’ motivation to experience new cultural realities. Moreover, guests not only want to enjoy the new setting but also to feel themselves as a part of it, which also imposes an impact on effective marketing approaches. These attitudes and values are consistent with the globalisation trend of the spread of participatory culture. According to Kandampully, Zhang and Bilgihan (2015, p. 379), customer loyalty is increased if the hospitality brand offers emotional engagement, value co-creation opportunities and “rapport between customers and employees”. Thus, creating a sense of belonging to the company is meaningful for customers, which is especially true for international hospitality companies.

Cultural diversity is, on the one hand, the primary motivating factor for tourism and travelling and, on the other hand, a source of some challenges. According to Grobelna (2015, p. 104), “a variety of hotel guests from different social and cultural backgrounds may contribute to increasing communications problems and other misunderstandings”. For this reason, there is a necessity of training personnel to acquire communication skills and conflict settlement techniques in the context of a specific cultural environment. Studies indicate that various segments of hospitality customers demonstrate different behaviours and roles and expect different service outcomes, which is also due to their cultural diversity (Chen, Raab and Tanford, 2017). This challenge can be addressed by considering factors that are common to customers from all over the globe. For instance, many studies confirm that establishing a partnership with clients is highly effective in the international hospitality industry (Chen, Raab and Tanford, 2017; Kandampully, Zhang and Bilgihan, 2015). Thus, in the globalisation age, members of a wide variety of cultures tend to establish equal and cooperative relations with the providers of hospitality services.

Besides, it is reasonable to apply instruments that measure customer satisfaction, which determines the performance of the hospitality business. Researchers note that the development of a loyal customer base, as well as attracting new customers directly depends on the gathering of feedback and its employment to improve the quality of services provided (Pizam, Shapoval and Ellis, 2016). This is particularly relevant for the international hospitality business, as it is the only way to anticipate the desires of customers in this area.

Customer Behaviour in the Digital Age

It should be emphasised that the application of innovative technologies in the hospitality industry at present is not only a competitive advantage but also a necessary condition for attracting customers. Social media is the primary source of information about hotels, restaurants, cafes and similar venues, which guides potential customers. Moreover, researchers note that customers tend to make decisions based on opinions expressed by the masses on the Internet (Punia and Choudhary, 2015). Consumption in the modern world is directly related to information circulation in the digital space, and the hospitality industry is one of the most illustrative examples in this regard. In addition to social media being a convenient way to get information about hotels and restaurants, people tend to “believe in and follow the same what their friends recommend” (Punia and Choudhary, 2015, p. 103). Thus, the digital identity and appearance of a hospitality company are of paramount significance in shaping the initial impression of the customer.

Furthermore, digital technologies provide the opportunity to address many business and marketing issues. Firstly, they promote effective customer engagement through the functions of commenting, contacting and submitting feedback on various websites and digital services. According to Buhalis and Sinarta (2019, p. 563), hospitality brands use these advantages to “dynamically enhance consumer experience through co-creation”. Secondly, they enable effective prediction of customer requests in order to personalise services appropriately (Buhalis and Sinarta, 2019). It may be noted that in such conditions, the objective of the hospitality market participants is not as much to anticipate the desires and needs of clients but to organise effective communication with them.

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As mentioned earlier, an essential feature of consumer behaviour is the desire to share views and opinions on social media. This information can be used effectively by businesses for marketing purposes and to improve service quality. According to Lu and Stepchenkova (2015), content analysis and special computational procedures allow to analyse a vast amount of user-generated data. This challenge seems rather complicated, given that the digital information “accumulated from countries and industries doubles every 1.2 years” (Lu and Stepchenkova, 2015, p. 120). However, the analysis of this data is necessary for hospitality researchers and practitioners in order to obtain “better knowledge in understanding customers” and “complex social dynamics” (Wong, 2016, p. 11). Thus, the digital space not only provides opportunities for new types of customer behaviour but is also a source of information collection and analysis.

However, the use of digital technologies is related to several problems. According to Dzhandzhugazova et al. (2016), although innovations and technologies are strongly associated with new products and services in demand, there is a significant gap between innovation development and its implementation. The authors note that this could be caused by “limited funding” and “high investment risks” (Dzhandzhugazova et al., 2016, p. 10388). Moreover, hospitality customers may refrain from using new self-service technologies for some time. Researchers point out that customers may consider some of the options provided by these technologies unnecessary or unimportant (Rosenbaum and Wong, 2015). Therefore, studying the information presented in social media, as well as analysing customer feedback, is essential for making business and marketing decisions.

Human Resource Issues

The transformation of people’s expectations, attitudes and behaviours take place not only among customers but also among employees in the hospitality industry. According to Boella and Goss-Turner (2019), just recently, human resources management was limited to recruiting and training and was the least concern of the company’s administration compared to finance sales and marketing. At the moment, it is evident that HR specialists perform a wide range of functions. In addition to recruiting and training, it is necessary to carry out performance management, assessment, improvement of the company’s morale, as well as the development of corporate ethics that corresponds to brand values. Researchers point out that internal and external factors such as bureaucracy, business cycles, client expectations and the digital age influence the change of this broad list of HR managers’ objectives (Solnet, Kralj and Baum, 2015). One of the significant trends is the decentralisation of HR functions, that is, their performance by line managers and supervisors who are not part of the HR department (Solnet, Kralj and Baum, 2015). In this way, the amount of work is distributed more evenly among the entire work team.

Other significant tendencies are the higher human-centric character of HR policies and increased expectations of employees regarding working conditions. According to Hofmann and Stokburger-Sauer (2017, p. 47), several factors make hospitality industry a “challenging working environment”, including “seasonal variations, exhausting working hours, shifting duties and demanding service interactions”. However, currently, employees desire a higher quality of life, and therefore innovative solutions are required to increase their commitment. Studies indicate that the job satisfaction of modern employees largely depends on their perception of the work-life balance (Hofmann and Stokburger-Sauer, 2017). Furthermore, according to Kruja et al. (2016, p. 25), “empowerment makes employees feel better about their jobs and themselves”. Empowerment, in turn, depends directly on the level of self-management as well as the appropriate working conditions and leadership (Kruja et al., 2016). Thus, an effective solution in this regard is to transfer some HR functions to the employees themselves. This requires a certain level of corporate culture and work team responsibility, but at the same time increases the feeling of self-sufficiency and job satisfaction among employees.

It should also be noted that in addition to higher expectations of working conditions, specific patterns of behaviour of young workers are a challenge for hospitality business owners. Researchers note that “labour turnover and the retention of younger staff remains an issue as the need to operate each day of the year for 24 hours remains a core aspect of management” (Ryan, 2015, p. 354). Van der Wagen and White (2018) note that personnel scheduling is particularly crucial in the hospitality industry, as it is subject to seasonal peaks and drops due to its nature. Thus, hospitality companies are especially concerned about providing attractive working conditions for employees to keep them engaged.

Adverse Behaviours and New Solutions

The hospitality industry also faces many of its traditional challenges and ethical concerns. Researchers and authors have long discussed the problem of “hospitableness”, which consists in the fact that the hospitality companies welcome only wealthy guests (Lashley, 2015). For a long time, the prejudices of the hospitality business owners extended to people of a different class, nation or religion, as well as the disabled and the sick. Nevertheless, human-centricity and equal opportunities for all people are now considered the world standard in the hospitality industry. For instance, an increasing number of restaurants, cafes and hotels are introducing special technologies aimed at ensuring that mobility-impaired people can also use their services (Lin et al., 2019). The problem of social and ethnic biases is still relevant, but over time it is disappearing.

At the same time, the problem of adverse behaviours among customers and employees is rather acute at present. Researchers note that aggression and rudeness of customers in relation to employees increases the “employee negative emotions, employee-to-employee incivility, and employee sensitivity to uncivil acts” (Torres, van Niekerk and Orlowski, 2017, p. 48). Such phenomena are partly the result of an entrenched notion that “the client is always right”. Moreover, there are enough cases of bullying among hospitality employees, especially with regard to junior staff (Ariza-Montes et al., 2017). Naturally, such a psychological climate contributes to worse performance, less employee job satisfaction and higher turnover (Ariza-Montes et al., 2017; Torres, van Niekerk and Orlowski, 2017). According to Paek et al. (2015, p. 9), the primary concern of hospitality employers should be employee “motivation, work engagement, job satisfaction, and affective organisational commitment”. The most effective solutions in this regard are increased self-management, a culture of employee-customer partnership and staff empowerment.

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Conclusion

It can be concluded that due to the changing attitudes and behaviours of customers and employees, hospitality companies should conduct relevant research and modern management policies, as well as implement effective innovations. The increase in intercultural interactions and specific problems in the working environment require state-of-art HR solutions, such as partnership corporate culture, employee self-management and staff empowerment. Research in the field of customer opinion analysis in digital space is also essential.

Reference List

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