Tough Truths and Myths about the Hospitality Industry – Part 1

by Egi Gaisie

The Hospitality industry: per this series, think of places to eat (the food and beverage service industry) and places to spend the night (lodging/accommodation).

Generally, inaccurate information about a career results in the development of career myths. These myths or misconceptions tend to linger, creating a negative impact and limiting the choices people tend to make in the face of vast career opportunities. This is what I see going on in the hospitality industry in Ghana. Further, the use of certain expressions in the industry, which may not have been well understood may also be contributing to the distortions about ‘service’ and the deepening of myths about the industry.

How do you understand these phrases in the images below?

 ‘At your service’ is normally used after you introduce yourself to someone and when you are willing to help them in any way you can. It is also a hospitality expression and means you are ready to help whenever possible. A misunderstanding of the phrase may have led people to associate hospitality with servitude and the age-old mantra, ‘the customer is always right’, seems to have deepened this belief!

Jobs in the hospitality industry are often already thought of as servile, in the sense that the host is beneath the guest. This has contributed to a cultural stigma where some service jobs (particularly in the hospitality sector where one considers host-guest relationships), are not considered respectable and desirable by some societies. It is also likely this belief originated from realizing that most visitors/tourists in those societies were white westerners from whom they had gained their independence (from colonial rule). For some, equating service with servitude implies an educated young person should not devote a career in the hospitality industry!

However, being of service to others is NOT servitude. Servitude is having no freedom, consigned to a lifetime of misery and boredom. Service is not satisfying your customers because you have to please them. Instead, you make your customers happy because you want to please them. – Service Is Not Servitude

The Hospitality Industry is Glamorous

Glamor refers to something that is attractive, exciting, and often associated with fame or celebrity. It is typically used to describe people, events, or lifestyles that are considered stylish or fashionable. Glamorous items or experiences are meant to evoke a sense of excitement, beauty, and sophistication. – Glamorous vs Luxury: Unraveling Commonly Confused Terms

Making first impressions are very important in the hospitality industry. I therefore don’t doubt the glamour hotels (in Ghana) of 3 to 5-star ratings in particular make efforts to portray. From the moment their guests arrive, they (the guests) are immersed in ‘a world of luxury’! So, beginning often with the architectural design of hotels, the landscape through the interior design, facilities and amenities made available, the glamorous image of hotels begins to take shape.

Take a look at the above images. The artistic and unique presentation of products including guestrooms, conference facilities, foods and drinks among many others, succeed in making such hotels not just places to sleep, but an experience which lingers in the minds of their guests when they leave the hotel. Generally, the emphasis on creating memorable experiences for guests therefore, also contributes to the reputation of ‘glamour’ in the industry.

Staff are uniformed in impressive fabrics, colors and stylish designs, from front desk staff to housekeeping and bartenders, and other service personnel (most especially, frontline personnel).

All employees are expected to present themselves as ‘polished and professional’ to their guests.

Yes, as a hospitality personnel, you will probably find yourself mingling with celebrities and influential individuals at some point, or standing at the center of a major event—but the vast majority of the time, it’s hard work and diligence.

You must be prepared, irrespective of the hospitality positions/careers you are aiming at, to face the demands accompanying your area of specialization. It is most enjoyable to see the products of your hard work though; a satisfied customer/guest together with added benefits such as personal and professional fulfillment!

“I am fulfilled when I am able to create memorable moments for guests”, says a Director of Operations of a hotel. (Ghana, 2024)

The service industry is an incredibly fulfilling industry to work in, not only do we bring joy and happiness to our customers, we are able to directly see the impact we have on their lives, in real time.

Further, by working in a pleasant working environment you are motivated to work efficiently.

Look out for the continuation of this article based on the premises below:

“The hospitality industry is seen as the place where those who couldn’t crack it in other industries come to work or better yet those who aren’t academically incline choose. This negative view has made it very difficult to draw talent into the industry. No one wants to be labelled as ‘unacademic’ in Ghana, so they would rather go into the banking, public service or even nursing because those are seen as careers that are worthwhile. It is astonishing that in the 21st century in Ghana, the hospitality industry is seen as an area for those who aren’t academically astute. “By a hotel Training and Quality Manager (Ghana, 2024)

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