Careers in Hospitality and Tourism

by Egi Gaisie

Tough truths and myths about the industry –Lodging / Accommodation

In the previous post, I attempted clarifying the terminologies ‘tourism industry’ and ‘hospitality industry’. Did you try your hand at the quiz? If you haven’t, try it. The answer is below the end of this article.  

‘Is working in the hotel industry good?’ ‘What are the risks of working in a hotel?’ These were among questions I remember being asked when promoting careers in the hotel industry in the early ‘90s.

In answering, I would usually recall my student years working summer jobs in hotels, and my youthful working days in the industry in Ghana. A reflection follows:

It was my first time taking on a job to clean hotel guestrooms in a large and busy hotel chain. I had received an orientation on thoroughly and systemically cleaning guestrooms, but the stories my colleague workers told me about their varied experiences even if I should follow the established procedures (like knocking three times and announcing, ‘housekeeping’), sent shivers down my spine.  Did I really want to do this job? I prayed and hoped that I would never encounter the day light ‘nightmare’ experiences they described!

Despite the tremendous changes which have occurred in the hotel industry, many negative perceptions still linger. To start off the discussions, and to ensure I don’t carry any biases along, I approached an objective, open-minded minister (of the gospel) I know, Rev. Dr. Okyere, to give me a general perception of hotels. He is the Dean of Manna Bible Institute.

Host: Thank you Rev. Okyere for your willingness to engage in this conversation. And welcome to the blog. What are the general views of the hotel industry in church circles?

Rev. Okyere: When we were kids, we had this game that we used matchsticks to create words. The player is supposed to move a stick or two to change the word to another meaningful word. The change is either from HOTEL to HOME or vice versa.  

In the general church circles, the opposite of home is hotel. However, a hotel is generally believed to be a place for adultery.

Host: I suspected this, because I get the impression older church people shy away from discussing careers in the hotel industry in particular. To what extent do you share this general view?

Rev. Okyere: Well, let me start by saying that, at times, some of the hotels themselves share a similar view. I had gone to arrange for a hotel for some pastors. When I inquired about the rate, the receptionist asked me for how long I was going to use the room. The scenario looked like I had gotten a female and needed a few hours for an exercise.
Well, I have moved slightly from the above traditional view and yet, not without caution. It is not because of the industry itself but this generation’s penchant for quick money.

Host: This surely mars the reputation of the hotel industry in general. How long ago was your experience?

Rev. Okyere: That must have been about two years ago.

Host: I see. Talking with a few individuals in the hotel industry while preparing towards this conversation, one understands that for some years now, reports on prostitution at hotels have been insignificant.

Also, in response to a question on how a particular hotel professional handles situations which conflict with her personal values, she made the following remarks:

  • Some guests after being checked in would later request for call girls (prostitutes). I politely let them know it is the hotel’s policy to discourage such requests.
  • There are a few occasions when guests call asking that the bibles in their rooms be removed so I send for their removal.
  • Some Pastors complain about the open display of alcoholic beverages but I cannot do anything about those because a hotel is a public facility.

‘In each of these situations, I have learnt to be tactful and I have stood very firm on my personal values’, she continued.

Host: Further, my attention has been drawn to many hotel personnel being now better trained on how to handle a variety of related challenging situations. Refer the following links:

Police train players in the Hospitality Industry

Prevention of human trafficking

Host: The sheer size of the hospitality industry and its pace of development create many jobs and career opportunities. However, some Christian parents will generally discourage their children from pursuing careers there. What are your views?

Rev. Okyere: I believe that if Christian parents have raised their children in the fear of the LORD, they should trust their children to make the right decision. Those who may fail in this may do the same at other places as well. The moral threat is no longer limited to the hospitality industry. It is everywhere.

Host: I totally agree with you. A young hotel professional once said to me, born into a Christian family and striving to live a Christian life, I felt quite uneasy working on days I had to be in Church. This has been very tough.  There is no clear cut picture on how to handle it but developing a prayer life has always been the key.’

As a Reverend Minister, what unique insights can you give the youth when they are seizing opportunities to work in this industry?

Rev. Okyere
: I believe one of the safest ways is to find colleagues of like-minds and build a support system. Many set-ups (non-hospitality organizations) have Christian fellowships where they meet shortly during break. Besides, they should investigate the reputation of a particular hotel or organization in which they intend to work.

Host: Hotel jobs are based on shift work and ‘unsociable hours’. This would include an early morning start and a late evening finish for 5 or 6 days a week, including weekends. Employees in smaller hotels may find themselves working for longer hours. As a result, many Christians working in hotels are not able to get involved in church activities, which may result in becoming stagnant in their spiritual growth. Should this be a factor to consider when choosing a career in this industry?

Rev. Okyere: Yes, the situation is worth considering. But in so doing, we should go back to the lessons COVID-19 taught us. Churches must start organizing services in view of the developing diversity of career opportunities. I believe there could be a number of solutions to such situations.

Secondly, God promises to be with us wherever we find ourselves. In fact, the times we spend with God at church are far less than the times we can spend with Him at home and at work. We must therefore cultivate a habit to meet God at ‘unlikely’ places. The Samaritan woman met Jesus at the performance of her daily chore. We must build a godly altar wherever we find ourselves.
Hotels must have small chapels where staff and others can enter and meditate for a few minutes.

Host: The last suggestion doesn’t seem feasible. However, generally, hotel staff have their ‘common/staff rooms’ which I guess they may use for such purpose.

Rev. Okyere: Well, maybe this can be an attention-drawer for a few that can consider it. Chaplaincy is rising in Ghana now.

Host: What question would you like to ask me on behalf of the Christian community at large when it comes to developing careers in the hotel industry, considering that almost all my work life has been in this industry?

Rev. Okyere: What are some of the pitfalls to avoid as one enters into the hospitality industry? 

Host: I entered the hotel industry after 6th form with no hotel work experience. My boss seeing how immature I was then, cautioned me; describing the hotel work environment, as a slippery ground; plenty of money, plenty of food, plenty of drinks and plenty of people of the opposite sex’.  I became mindful of the possible job hazards as a young lady working at the hotel front desk. I saw most of my work mates who received tips being highly influenced so I never took tips except from my boss.

I imagined hotels as a miniature world: I was handling people from different parts of the world having different cultures and values and the hotels had facilities which served the essential needs of guests and customers (in addition to guestrooms, there were eating and drinking areas, conference /meeting rooms, entertainment and leisure facilities, laundry, forex bureau, shops, hair salon, car rentals etc.).

As a Christian, I linked the general ‘fallen world’ to my miniature hotel world.  The hotel world was therefore going to be my ‘classroom’ to deal with the bigger ‘fallen world’ where I’m described as ‘the light of the world and the salt of the earth’ Matthew 5:13-20. You need to understand why you uphold your values.

I also learned not to take people at face level because I observed colleagues get entangled with all kinds of problems with guests. I came up with the theory that every customer/guest has 3 faces; there is one you may never see until you step on his/her toes. So I drew a fine imaginary line between myself and guests/customers and learned to stay professional at all times.

You have to learn how to deal with many different personalities, and adapt, on a daily basis. As a service industry, expect to work irregular working hours and long shifts. This will result in having limited personal time so be intentional in developing an intimate relationship with God.

Generally, the hospitality industry can be fast-paced and demanding, managing time-sensitive tasks, and handling high-pressure situations, making you stressful or burnout.

Work with integrity, invest in yourself to avoid being stuck in one position and give yourself a treat/celebrate yourself occasionally. The future looks promising but a lot depends on your attitudes.

The solution to the relationship between the hospitality industry and the tourism industry is depicted in “Venn Diagram C.”

See solution to matchstick puzzle Rev. Okyere made reference to.

You may also see if you can lead in solving the Matchsticks puzzles in the link below.

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1 comment

Freda Oppong Nyarko March 9, 2024 - 7:10 am

Everything about hospitality is nice


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