The hospitality and tourism industry is inundated with service situations which require not only top management to be critical thinkers but also its operational team of service providers!
A guest, unfamiliar with hotel policies arrives early in the morning and is told that the room will not be ready until midday or the guest arrives at the front desk only to find that their room has been re-let because they did not guarantee the booking. The room was released at 6pm.
A restaurant takes the longest time to approach a group of three customers. They order pizza from a pizza joint across the street from the restaurant, and the pizza is delivered to them in the restaurant!
Or have you found yourself in a service situation in the industry where you couldn’t but help ask the service provider one question after another, only to get the response, “I am new here.”
Out of curiosity you may have gone further to ask, “how long have you been here?’
You were expecting “I started today” or ‘I started a week ago”. But the response you got was, “I started 4 months ago.”
I recall being part of a tour group of about 15 or 17 people made up of Ghanaians and nonresident non Ghanaians touring the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. The focus must be on our first President right? Well, a tourist among us seemed to be equally interested in the plants around the premises! Our tour guide was taken unawares by questions about the plants! Returning to our series, this week’s feature is on Excellence is…critical thinking!
What is the importance of critical thinking in our workspace? Consider the scenarios recounted above from the industry. On a daily basis, we face problems and situations that should be evaluated and solved, and we are challenged to understand different perspectives to think about these situations. Most of us depend on previous similar situations or experiences. But every customer is different and no two situations are ever the same in the industry!
Operational personnel usually exhibit lack of confidence in their own ability to solve problems or in decisions they make when faced with similar situations and where specific instructions have not been given to them.
Most small hotels depend on employees of lower skills. New hires for the hotel may not have strong enough people skills because they were not taught these skills in the previous jobs they held.
Some employers value employees who are critical thinkers. They ask questions, offer creative ideas, and are always ready to offer innovation against the competition. Others are intimidated by them! No matter the position held by employees, critical thinking will always give them the power to stand out and make a difference. Someone with critical thinking skills can be trusted to make decisions independently, and will not need constant handholding.
A critically-thinking hotel manager knows a guest perceives the hotel experience as a whole. Each department — food and beverage, lounge, check-in, reservations and housekeeping — impacts the guest. The guest’s entire stay can be marred, however, by a bad meal in the restaurant or a moody front desk executive or a damaged clothing by the laundry. The critically-thinking manager is therefore constantly considering ways to improve the performance of each department. His guiding management principle is “What can we do better?”
Critical thinking has many definitions. For the most part, it is the process of analyzing facts in order to form a judgment. In the hospitality and tourism industry some decisions must be taken in the spur of a moment!
Our students need to develop critical thinking. Gone are the days when some of us, educators considered ourselves as information providers. Today, information is available and our role as educators have changed. The world is flooded with information and we are no longer expected to provide information!
As educators, we must teach students to…
- ask the right questions.
- seek answers from different sources.
- assess the validity of the answers.
- apply these answers to the situation/problem they are facing.
In our assessment of students we could be guided by Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning depicted below, whereby level 100 students would address questions related to just remembering facts to understanding/explaining concepts, level 200 students address questions related to application and level 300 students analyzing, evaluating and creating.
You may find this short clip very helpful: Samantha Agoos
Solution for past riddle: What is dirty when it’s white? Blackboard.
Riddle for the week: What can you catch but not throw?