Tough Truths and Myths about the Hospitality Industry – Part 2

by Egi Gaisie

The hospitality industry has long been misunderstood, resulting in the development of many stereotypes and myths which still linger in the industry, despite significant changes in its work environment. In the previous post, I suggested the misunderstanding of certain common expressions as likely contributors to this. I also suggested that the reputation of glamour in the industry sends false impressions, particularly because some people entering the industry are not mindful that achieving the ‘reputation of glamour’ requires their hard work.

This article focuses on some myths surrounding personnel in the industry.

Myth: Hospitality workers are either uneducated or academically poor:

‘Uneducated’ is a rather strong word to use. What does it mean? Having or showing little or no formal schooling: not educated.

Let’s start off with a portion of a conversation I had with a hotel Human Resource Manager as my guest on this blog about eight years ago.

Host: How would you describe the general attitude of people wanting to work in the hotel industry?

Guest: Most new entrants perceive hotel work as basic household daily chores… An applicant who has practiced cooking at home feels highly qualified to be employed as a cook in a modern hotel kitchen. This runs through for most of the departments.

Host: Are you suggesting there is a general lack of understanding among applicants as to what qualifications are expected of them? Vacancy announcements I’ve come across have specific and detailed job requirements.

Guest: Yes but even when job adverts are well laid out, applicants look at the positions as what they merely do in their respective homes; as in cooking, cleaning rooms or serving food.

A Hotel Training and Quality Manager recently (February 2024) expressed the following general observations.

The informal nature of our job makes the staff feel they do not need to be professional and disciplined. 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 inclined 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“. 

Has anything changed in view of peoples’ perception about the industry? The above myth can therefore (if it has not yet), become an albatross around the necks of many people entering or in the industry! Once they gain their aspired ‘higher education’, they move out of the industry.

My opinions:

The hospitality industry in general and the hotel industry in particular is highly fragmented. The accommodation sector has hotels with standards ranging from budget, one through to five-star ratings, guest houses and now, Airbnb facilities. The following statistics is a rough outlook on the categories of hotels in Ghana (compiled a number of years ago).

  • Budget hotels … 74%
  • Guest houses…5%
  • 1 star hotels…14%
  • 2 star hotels… 6%
  • 3-5 star hotels …1%

Considering the above statistics, where the lower graded facilities unfortunately make up the majority (74%), employing people with low educational backgrounds may not be surprising.

The job requirements for a 5-star hotel in any position will however, be significantly higher than those of budget or unlicensed hotels. There could therefore be a higher demand for personnel with higher qualifications should the number of higher star-rated accommodation facilities become prevalent in the country.

Similarly, the job requirements of a category ‘A’ restaurant, again in any position, will be different from other standards within the food and beverage service sector. Here, there are wide variances of formal and informal businesses in the sector, with each displaying many different types of eating and drinking facilities and styles of service.

Further, just as in many other industries and organizations, job positions in the hospitality industry can be broadly divided into categories; unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and managerial and each of these must meet some specific educational qualifications.

The size of our hospitality facilities may also be remotely contributing to this. In smaller hospitality facilities, management personnel often play several roles (technical and managerial) so remaining tasks are often offered to semi-skilled personnel who should be able to seize the opportunity to develop themselves on the job.

In the late 1980’s through mid-2000, the terrain of the hospitality industry in Ghana was nowhere near the current ‘sophistication’ we are seeing of international standard hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers across the length and breadth of the country by the private sector. 

Pressure arising from market competition in the hospitality industry will force individual facilities who want to remain attractive in business to make efforts towards ensuring their guests/customers are getting the best value for their money. It will be interesting to observe the impact of implementing strategies towards reducing the percentage of budget hotels and having a higher percentage of the middle bracket (e.g. 1 and 2 star hotels)!

Myth: No specialized training is required to excel in the hospitality sector:

My opinions:

Despite the industry’s propensity to create employment, particularly entry level jobs for untrained persons, it must be noted that even entry –level positions are better filled with persons who have received some threshold level of training to meet the respective job standards of the hospitality facilities which employed them.

Even though some roles in the industry did not use to require much formal education, they required some critical skills to facilitate interaction with customers. Training would therefore include appreciating the nature of the industry, cultivating a service mindset as well as on specific tasks required on the job.

The Hospitality Foundation curriculum at Career Development Institute (CDI), an educational facility no longer in operation offered:

Front Office OperationsMenu KnowledgeEnglish LanguageFood & Beverage Service
Housekeeping OperationsIntroduction to computerIntroduction to Basic AccountingFrench Language(basic)

Like all organizations and businesses, the hospitality industry requires middle and senior managers who can employ the techniques of modern management and marketing as they apply to the industry. Some appreciable level of college – based education is also becoming essential to work in, or make a meaningful career in the industry. The current work environment of the hospitality and tourism industry require personnel at all levels to have skills through formal education and continuing training in new developments if they are to excel on the job! Continuous professional development is becoming a norm in this industry.

Hospitality and tourism training programs go beyond equipping individuals with front-line skills; they also significantly cultivate leadership qualities and managerial expertise. These programs prepare individuals to guide teams, manage operations, and uphold unwavering standards of service.

Below is the 12-course Hospitality Management curriculum which CDI was offering in developing and preparing well-grounded students for the industry.

Managing Front Office OperationsHospitality Facilities ManagementInternational Hotel Management
Housekeeping ManagementHospitality Industry Financial AccountingSecurity& Loss Prevention Management
Food & Beverage ManagementManaging Hospitality Human ResourcesHospitality Sales & Marketing
Supervision in the Hospitality IndustryTourism and the Hospitality IndustryHospitality Industry Computer Systems

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