Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
demanding and even unreasonable. Expecta-
tions can also vary from one guest to another.
Guests may have expectations of receptionists
ranging from a 'sympathetic ear' to a casual
'fl ing'. Receptionists must increasingly function
within the strict dictates of service that require a
high level of performance yet as Mars and Nicod
(1984) argue the provision of hospitality has
various idealized expectations built into it, some
of which are fairly unclear. Furthermore, the
quality of the guests' experience is a major part
of the service that is purchased:
The extent of this challenge is highlighted
by defi nitions of 'hospitality'. The Concise
Oxford Dictionary defi nes 'hospitality' as 'the
friendly and generous reception and entertain-
ment of guests or strangers' (Youell, 1998, p. 3).
The Oxford Thesaurus lists several words that
have similar descriptions to 'hospitality', such
as, 'graciousness', 'courtesy', 'friendliness', 'cor-
diality', 'sociability' and 'generosity' (Urdang,
1991, p. 201). Other defi nitions of hospitality
focus on commercial aspects for example 'a ser-
vice relationship that involves supplying the
amenities, comforts, conveniences, social inter-
actions, and experiences of shelter and enter-
tainment that a guest or customer values'
(Youell, 1998). In hospitality practice, there is
also a requirement to display specifi c emotions,
gestures and discourses that the organization
desires for the benefi t of customers. As can be
seen from these defi nitions, hospitality is a form
of service that involves many intangible aspects.
As Mars and Nicod (1984) have argued, speci-
fying the boundary of a service is diffi cult. It is
precisely from this inability to defi ne the limits
that complications arise in terms of how much
service is good service, and when it is all right to
say it is enough. This is especially relevant for
understanding the 'tourist gaze' portrayed in
this chapter. The context in which the tourist
gaze takes place, the underlying qualities of
hospitality reception work are presented in fi ve
conceptual themes. These are hospitality recep-
tion work as: a service practice, feminized prac-
tice, pleasing practice, ambiguous practice and
culturalized practice. These conceptual catego-
ries are described in detail below.
The social composition of the producers, at
least those who are serving in the front line,
may be part of what is in fact 'sold' to the
customer. In other words, the 'service' partly
consists of a process of production infused with
particular social characteristics, of gender, age,
race, educational background and so on.
(Urry, 2002, p. 61)
This can create a situation where the boundary
between a server's personal and work self
become fl uid as management who direct the
'gaze' of the guest sometimes try to manipulate a
server's appearance, speech and even emotions
to satisfy the guests (Mars and Nicod, 1984;
Wijesinghe, 2001). In providing hospitality in the
contemporary hospitality industry, many pre-
scribed service standards have been introduced
which contemporary hospitality accommodation
establishments - hotels and the like - are seeking
to adopt. The hospitality industry continues to
investigate its practices and to develop guidelines
for good practice, which tourism and hospitality
workers are expected to follow. In their marketing
campaign, the industry highlights hospitality
workers' caring and welcoming activities, appeal-
ing to the desire of travellers to be welcomed,
cared for and restored. The receptionists play a
crucial role in instructing guests on how to make
best use of their holiday. They have the peda-
gogic role of educating the guests on what to
consume and what to expect when on holiday.
They are the orchestrators of directing the 'gaze'
of the guests towards the kind of pursuits that the
industry has made available for purchase. For
reception workers, who are at the front line of this
industry, meeting these elaborate and idealized
requirements within the practicalities of the work-
place and their personal circumstances can be a
considerable challenge.
Service practice
First, hospitality reception work involves the
provision of a service to a guest. From the ser-
vice quality model and defi nitions of hospitality
(Parasuraman, 1995), it can be seen that hospi-
tality reception practice has a number of tan-
gible and intangible components. The term
'service' denotes both the tangible element of
providing food, accommodation and beverages
as well as the intangible quality of the industry
personnel to be hospitable hosts (Metelka,
1990). The intangible human element in the
Search WWH ::

Custom Search