Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
be wholly controlled or predicted; it involves
being subjected to unknown ultimatums - rebuke,
reward or camoufl age/masking of behaviour by
strangers/guests. Engaging in hospitality recep-
tion work is like accepting the risks and enrich-
ment of inviting a stranger into friendship, while
accepting the risk that the friend can also turn out
to be an enemy. Similarly, if the guests are not
properly schooled and converted, especially when
they fi rst check-in, then hostility can lurk in the
background and guests can turn into enemies -
angry, demanding, unhappy and manipulative.
This can lead to tensions in the receptionist-guest
relationship, as in the episode discussed here.
Guests such as Mr Abubakar, who have slipped
from being properly schooled in the culture of the
accommodation establishment and who have
not been converted into compliant guests, can
become diffi cult to handle. They are not players
and remain outside the game, making demands
based on their own terms.
As every hospitality reception practice is
embodied within a specifi c personal, social, cul-
tural, environmental and commercial/occupa-
tional setting, each of these forces has many
and varied possibilities for the experience to
take shape, and each of these aspects have
implications for achieving the challenge of con-
verting strangers to guests.
experience was translated into words and labelled
and categorized. However, much thought was
put into crafting the portrayal so that the experi-
ence of the receptionist could be brought to life
in a way that readers could recognize the experi-
ence as a possible one, and create that 'aha, so,
that is what it is like!' moment. The standpoint
from which I speak in this study as a practitioner,
relates to my positioning in the industry at the
time. The receptionist presented here is a young,
non-white, well-presented female, from a socially
reserved culture (which tended to inhibit women's
communication with people, particularly men
not known to them) engaged in an occupational
category that was perceived to have a low status.
Her youth, femininity, non-whiteness, well-
presentedness, non-social initiative taking and
lowly occupation may in fact be a recognizable
pattern for some guests - a particular mix of
exotic, desirability and opportunity.
The story portrayed here, together with
those depicted in the full research study are inter-
sections of different personalities, cultural types
and roles. These social and cultural factors had
an important infl uence on the structure of the
embodied nature of the receptionist's experi-
ence. The vignette discussed here reveals the
feminized and sexualized nature of reception
work, since the receptionist was expected to look
feminine and display so-called female qualities
such as nurturing, being attentive and sympa-
thetic. When taken together with the wider fi nd-
ings, it is clear that the female receptionists
studied were vulnerable to the way in which
their sexuality and physical attractiveness were
employed by the industry to tease and attract the
senses of male customers and provide a focus for
their fantasies. Overall, the issues raised by the
experience portrayed here cannot be ignored.
This chapter explored the role of arts-based tex-
tual genre as an alternative approach to doing
research. In the crafting of the episode, even
though much effort was taken to retain the
expressive nature of the themes, inevitably a
certain amount of analysing took place, as the
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