Motivation remains one of the most popular and, yet, most controversial subjects in hospitality and tourism research. The concept of motivation in tourism and hospitality can be considered from the two different perspectives. On the one hand, managers in tourism should understand how tourists are motivated to purchase hospitality products and services. On the other hand, these managers must be aware of the most appropriate methods to motivate their employees. Researchers have developed several theoretical approaches to understand tourist and employee motivation in the hospitality industry. In cases of both tourists and employees, needs and motivations are claimed to be closely interrelated (Kozak 222). While tourists seek to satisfy their physiological and psychological needs when they choose to travel, employees also want to see that their physiological, social, and self-realization needs are satisfied. Consequently, managers in the tourism industry should develop a multifaceted and realistic view of the industry situation, to have the resources needed to keep tourists and employees motivated in the long run.
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The conceptual development of motivation theories in tourism can be traced back to the beginning of the 1970s. According to Harrill and Potts, despite a number of developments in the field, the social psychological understanding of tourist motivation is yet to be achieved (105). Nevertheless, numerous theorists and empirical researchers have made their contribution to the development of motivation theories that would suit the theoretical and practical needs of the tourism sector. Although “no two individuals are alike, and differences in attitudes, perceptions and motivation have an important influence on travel decisions” (Page 60), some generalisations can still be made.
When it comes to motivation in tourism, Pearce remains one of the most popular motivation theorists. His travel career ladder theory is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Pearce 52). The career ladder theory describes motivation as consisting of five different stages: relaxation, safety, relationship, self-esteem, and self-actualisation (Pearce 53). As such, tourists choose to travel, when they want to satisfy a number of needs, starting with relaxation and up to self-actualisation and self-fulfilment (Pearce 54). This motivation theory can be used to explain the development of motivational aspects in hospitality employees. However, the basic intention of Pearce’s theory of motivation is to describe the evolution of purchasing and travelling intentions in tourists. This theory is important, at least because managers in the hospitality industry must be aware of the way consumers pass towards purchasing tourist and hospitality services.
Managers in the tourism industry must be ready to use their knowledge of motivation theories to keep their employees motivated and committed to their workplace tasks. Modern employees are exposed to a variety of motivation theories that can be successfully applied in the tourism industry. Lundberg, Gurmundson and Andersson used Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation to test and improve the level of motivation in seasonal hospitality workers (890). Herzberg’s two-factor theory is based on the needs approach to employee motivation and suggests that the factors responsible for job satisfaction differ from the factors leading to job dissatisfaction (Lundberg, Gurmundson & Andersson 890). The theory has profound implications for managers in the tourism sector, as they must be ready to treat job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction as two different categories. However, if they have no time or capacity to explore employee needs, they can apply to Theory Y, which provides the most general assumptions related to motivation in the workplace.
Based on Theory Y, the process of fulfilling workplace obligations can be easy and even pleasant, if the conditions of work favour the development of such attitudes (Lauby 4). In other words, according to Theory Y, the sources of employee motivation are mostly external. In these favourable conditions, when employees develop stronger job commitments, they also become more creative in the pursuit of strategic organisational objectives (Lauby 4). Rewards play one of the chief roles in making people committed to work and helping them satisfy their self-actualisation needs (Lauby 4). This theory of motivation provides managers in the tourism industry with a number of recommendations to improve the workplace environment and foster the development of stronger employee commitments at work.
Managers use a variety of techniques to motivate employees in the tourism industry. Some managers emphasise the importance of outcomes and re-orient their employees towards sharing the organisational results of their work. In this case, numerous incentives, including gain-sharing, are offered to employees to keep them motivated (Kusluvan 346). Other managers focus their efforts on increasing employee motivation by assigning meaningful tasks and providing workers with freedom and autonomy, which make it easier to raise employee satisfaction and improve their job performance (Janes & Wisnom 108).
Compensation and benefits keep playing one of the central roles in driving extrinsic employee motivation, but present-day managers also allow their workers choosing the benefits and compensation packages that appeal to them (Janes & Wisnom 108). Moreover, material benefits are no longer as important to employees as they used to be several years ago. Training, continuous learning, career advancement opportunities, and performance appraisals should be used to create and implement a balanced system of motivational factors to satisfy the unique motivational needs of employees (Janes & Wisnom 109).
In conclusion, motivation remains an essential topic in the tourism industry. Only motivated employees can ensure the success of the tourism industry and its effectiveness. However, no motivation recipe can be treated as universal. Employee needs are unique, and so are the conditions of their work. Consequently, managers must be ready to appraise critically the terms of employee performance, understand their individual needs, and develop strategies to ensure that these needs are consistently satisfied. The current state of theoretical and empirical literature offers great insight into various theories and approaches to motivation. Nevertheless, as the tourism industry continues to expand, managers must be ready to adopt innovative approaches to employee motivation in ways that fit into the unique conditions of performance in the tourism industry.
Harrill, Robert, and Terry Potts. “Social Psychological Theories of Tourist Motivation: Exploration, Debate and Transition.” Tourism Analysis 7.2 (2002): 105-114. Print.
Janes, Patty, and Mary Wisnom. “Changes in Tourism Industry Quality of Work Life Practices.” Journal of Tourism Insights 1.1 (2010): 107-113. Print.
Kusluvan, Salih. Managing Employee Attitudes and Behaviours in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry, New York: Nova Publishers, 2003. Print.
Lauby, Sharlyn J. Motivating Employees, Fort Lauderdale, FL: American Society for Training and Development, 2005. Print.
Lundberg, Christine, Anna Gudmundson, and Tommy D. Andersson. “Herzberg’s Two-Factor of Work Motivation Tested Empirically on Seasonal Workers in Hospitality and Tourism.” Tourism Management 30.6 (2009): 890-899. Print.
Page, Stephen. Tourism Management: An Introduction, Burlington, MA: Routledge, 2011. Print.
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Pearce, Philip L. Tourist Behaviour: Themes and Conceptual Schemes, Clevedon, UK: Channel View Publications, 2005. Print.