The hospitality industry, which includes hotels, tour operators, restaurants and tourism, is one of the leading industries in the world. It has been booming since the mid of the twentieth century. Numerous regions and even economies of some countries depend largely on tourism. Tourists generally expect to be warmly welcomed wherever they come. It is, therefore, upon the hospitality industry to come up with strategies to guarantee hospitality for tourists. However, the hospitality industry is often self-contradictory in that it has its own economic responsibilities, on the one hand, and moral and social attitudes that are not bound by those economic responsibilities, on the other hand (O’Fallon & Rutherford 2010).
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The manner in which employees in a hospitality business behave towards tourists and guests should be based on hospitality as a social and moral value. This is usually characterized by their effort to make the tourists feel at home. However, in the current consumer society, hospitality, like any other industry, is a business aiming at maximizing on profits. Therefore, the situation requires all the players to be highly integrated into the business.
A remarkable example that focuses on the issue of integrity in the hospitality industry is presented below. There was a case where thousands of tourists were forced to stay in a certain city. This was a result of an Icelandic ash cloud that was in the sky around Europe in May 2010. This presented an opportunity for hotel owners to take advantage of people’s desperation in accommodation and make money increasing their accommodation rates for a night. Should a hostel manager who claims to be of integrity benefit from such a situation and raise the charges, or should he show true hospitality and reduce the charges, or at least let them remain the same? Where does the balance lie in such a situation?
In hospitality, integrity is vital to business ethics. The tension between the industry’s economized concept and its moral attitude is a significant feature of tourism and needs a considerate integrity view. The ‘Homeric’ hospitality ideal involves love for strangers. Hospitality in this sense refers to the world of human relationships that is not ruled by the pursuit for profit maximization, with hospitality being extended to those who may be in need. A notable question occurs on how the industry’s business ethics should be framed. As this industry is based on implicit hospitality ethics, its ethics of business has to begin with its core business, which is hospitality itself (Simons 2008).
Typical viewpoints of both the hospitality and the market have the tendency to be developed by mistake. A broader and wider concept of understanding the caring economy involves a way of organizing life as a whole. A caring economy involves communities sharing life of mutuality, relationships, and reciprocity, and is not about individual satisfaction and competition. There exists a difference between accumulation of wealth and economics. The accumulation of money itself is an activity that is unnatural and dehumanizes everyone who practices it (Tanke 2001).
The accumulation of money is not an ethical practice for a manager in the hospitality industry. While trade exchanges money for services and goods, accumulation of money involves the creation of money from money. Here, the merchant produces nothing. The hospitality industry can be said to have integrity if the sale of services is made directly between the producer and the buyer at the right price. On the other hand, there will be a lack of integrity if the producer purchases products and services to be resold to consumers at a higher price through the process of generating added value. Money must only be a measure of value and a medium of exchange (Walker & Miller 2009).
The hospitality industry should not merely maximize profits for their shareholders, but rather serve the society. Profit gained should be a reward for serving society well. Unless a business serves the society, it does not have enough integrity, and society, in return, will not tolerate their profits or even their returns. Hospitality is only understandable if it aims to serve society. The notion that running business will corrupt the hospitality industry by its integrity presumes that the term economics is a reference to trade for profit (Simons 2008).
In conclusion, running a hospitality business with integrity means doing it in the way one would behave towards one’s best friends. Therefore, integrity is certainly not the separation of business and friendship, though the businesspersons are able to artificially separate moral values in different circumstances. The essence of the hospitality industry is to extend hospitality to strangers, who may be not clearly understood, but who are nonetheless provided with accommodation. A hospitality business manager is one capable of finding the right integrity balance between operating profitably and provision of services that form the true sense of the term ‘hospitality’ (Kusluvan 2003). Hospitality businesses which aim is to make exorbitant profits without extending hospitality to its clients should not be in operation in the first place.
Kusluvan, S. 2003. Managing Employee Attitudes and Behaviors in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Nova Publishers, New York.
O’Fallon, M, & Rutherford, D. G. 2010. Hotel Management and Operations, John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Simons, T. 2008. The Integrity Dividend: Leading by the Power of Your Word, John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Tanke, M. L. 2001. Human Resources Management for the Hospitality Industry, Cengage Learning, New York.
Walker, J. R. & Miller, J. E. 2009. Supervision in the Hospitality Industry: Leading Human Resource, John Wiley and Sons, New York.