Human resource management forms a core component in most institutional and business settings. Each of these establishments has its own unique organizational culture that determines the manner in which business operations are conducted. As a result, work packages in each of the organizations follow a particular strategy. The hospitality industry is among those industries with unique attributes that influence its human resource management practice. The global perspective regarding human resource management is that there is little variation in the approaches used regardless of the choice of industry. Baum (2006, p.84) remarks that “Service enters the discussion through a consideration of the characteristics of tourism, which set the industry and its products apart from other industries and products”. Thus, in as much as there could be some element of validity in the claim, to some extent the hospitality industry has some unique attributes that make its human resource management practices different. However, there are fewer elements that resemble those in the contemporary world.
The aspect of service delivery in the hospitality industry is relatively different from other industries in that it incorporates a new unique component in service delivery. In tourism, service delivery deliberately eliminates certain diverse aspects associated most technical and corporate industries, consequently affecting the final product composition. Baum (2006, p.84) observes that service delivery in the tourism, hospitality, and leisure is mainly focused on marketing. Hence, the human resource manager of a tourism establishment needs to understand the complex issues that affect the efficacy, with which marketing initiatives are delivered by the assigned personnel. In essence, the service component in the tourism industry is endowed with characteristics of perishability, intangibility, and inseparability, while the product component is more tangible, can be standardized, and is often storable (Baum 2006, p.84). Thus, focusing on the service component, it is evident that the human resource has an intertwined nature, which implies that the human resource manager needs to ensure that there is a seamless link among all relevant personnel.
In contemporary industries such as manufacturing industries, it is possible for the management to introduce certain quality checks in a bid to ensure that the product is accurately delivered. In this regard, it is easy to point out specific areas of concern that the responsible personnel should address. The main element of concern is the final product. However, in the case of tourism, the production, sale, and consumption of the service takes place in a simultaneous fashion, and there is a long duration of time between the actual sale and production of an item (Baum 2006, p.85). This is points out to the inseparability trait associated with any tourism product or service where by the management cannot clearly establish a distinct gap between consumption and production of a product. As a result, the human resource management team has a rather difficult process, when it comes to delegating roles or establishing liability of the state or product to specific personnel. Thus, compared to manufacturing entities, the tourism industry actively relies on a different approach when it comes to human resource management.
The fact that tourism services usually take place under the most multi-level dimensions, especially focusing on location factors, the supervision required to ensure personnel adequately deliver their duties is robust and complex. In essence, tourism services cannot be centrally located, warehoused, or stockpiled (Baum 2006, p.85). This is unique from other product-based industries, where the management can actively undertake these functions with ease. Establishing supervision is easy because the supervisor can easily centrally locate items and track their movement for feedback. In the case of tourism, the aspect of feedback is a simultaneous affair and difficult to establish under real time circumstances. Baum (2006, p.84) adds that “it is usually delivered where the customer is by the people, who are beyond the immediate influence of the management.” Hence, establishing a reliable performance evaluation criterion becomes difficult due to the multiple factors involved.
Human resource management in the tourism industry puts ultimate emphasis on the feelings exhibited by an employee. D'Annunzio-Green, Maxwell, and Watson (2002, p.203) observe that the “hospitality and tourism organizations have a particularly urgent need to engage employees on an emotional level.” This is primarily because, in tourism, employees are expected to interact on a frequent basis with the clientele of the respective establishments that they are serving. In other industrial establishments, less focus is given to the human emotional dimension while more focus is given on the attainment of the desired deliverables. The performance initiative is the core value of service; hence, the human resource management takes less time to address emotional maturation and development.
On the contrary, in the tourism industry, the human resource manager employs a motivational empowerment construct to enable employees overcome personal elements that may negatively affect their service delivery (D'Annunzio-Green, Maxwell, &Watson 2002, p.11). Through motivational empowerment, emphasis is put on the need for employees to always display a positive emotional perspective. In situations where the employees are unable to do so, then it is normal for the management to give them time off. These aspects do not normally apply in other industrials settings apart from the medical field.
The tourism industry operates in a multicultural environment; hence, the recruitment process seen in most of its segments tend to attract workers from different parts of the globe. As a result, the human resource belonging to the tourism industry tends to attach a multitude of cross-cultural issues, which affect the manner in which work packages are accomplished. These issues affect the manner in which service is delivered. It also plays a major role when it comes to the actual management of the personnel. The desire for the human resource management to focus on a particular culture is driven by the need to narrow the cultural gap that normally exists between the customers and personnel.
In essence, members who belong to a given cultural group are usually the most suited to address the unique needs and preferences of the customers from similar cultural backgrounds (D'Annunzio-Green, Maxwell, &Watson 2002, p.268). In this regard, the human resource manager usually faces a major task of merging these unique cultural traits into the overall organizational culture. Thus, most of the time, the human resource personnel have little influence when it comes to determining performance measurement variables for employees, belonging to a different culture. The dilemma arises from the accommodative nature of customers, who at times may not provide the best feedback whenever they are served by workers from a similar cultural background. This only deepens the problem of the human resource personnel, whose task is to streamline worker input with organizational objectives.
Retaining the most talented and suitable staff members is one the most challenging aspects of human resource management in the tourism and hospitality industry. In other industries, it is relatively easy to retain desirable talent through normal staff motivation mechanisms. However, in the tourism industry, these mechanisms may not necessarily come in play because of the preference given to regional, cultural, and professional traits of individuals. Thus, normal incentives and shares given to employees in the form of free shares with an aim of making them shareholders in the business have not always proven successful.
Human resource management in the tourism industry does not rely on the contemporary staff appraisal techniques because of the unique nature, in which professional roles are accomplished. In most circumstances, assessing individual employee input with regard to efficacy of service offered is not possible. To perform this, there is a need for direct supervision, which may not always go well in the presence of consumers; hence, the latter are always given the chance to provide feedback. Nevertheless, for the human resource manager to have a comprehensive perspective on an individual’s performance, he may need extra details such as timeliness, decorum, and management of one’s emotional state. One researcher proposed for the adoption of a management by objective mechanism as a preferred to technique of balancing performance planning and appraisal initiatives (D'Annunzio-Green, Maxwell, &Watson 2002, p.134). Thus, using this approach the human resource manager will be in a position to develop an effective relationship between the entire management team and employees.
Establishing a definite scale for staff remuneration is a challenging factor in the tourism industry due to variations brought out by different subsectors. For instance, in some subsectors and geographical entities, the hospitality establishments provide competitive remuneration and better working environment, but there is general low turnover of staff (Nickson 2007, p.2). The reason leading to the low turnover is the high social class of clientele that an establishment serves, there is still a lot of disparity in terms of payment. This implies that in as much as tourism makes a major contribution to some economies the economic benefits do not necessarily trickle down to the employees, which is driven by the absence of a definitive framework to determine employee pay packages.
As a result, managers in the tourism industry find it very challenging to recruit, develop, and maintain a competent, well-motivated, competent, and well-managed workforce that is essentially focused on providing high quality services (Nickson 2007, p.2-3). In other service-based industries, the remuneration packages are usually in tandem with industry situational standards, for example, employees working in a computer company serving high profile clientele will often earn better salaries than their companions in other segments.
The tourism and hospitality industry tends to derive majority of its human resource from personnel, who come to work, on a part-time basis. Part of the reason leading to the high reliance on part-time employees is the low wages paid to most employees. This makes employees to prefer part-time work agreements in which they are paid specific rates for the period of time they work while they are better able to secure multiple job positions in different establishments. According to Nickson (2007, p.6) a larger subsector of the entire segment represented by 52% rely on part-time employees to compared to other contemporary industries that are represented by 25%. Thus, the human resource managers in tourism and hospitality industries do not usually definitely estimate their staff numbers at a particular point in time. This also implies that the human resource manager has less assurance that the employees will actually deliver to expectation. Additionally, the human resource manager is normally aware of the fact that the highest bidder among their competitors gets the best crop of part-timers turning up for work.
The occurrence of seasonal variations in the tourism and hospitality industry also affects the human resource potential. During high seasons, the tourism establishments tend to have a high affinity for contract employees while during low seasons the industry tends to have a high affinity for part-time employees. This fluctuation in the preference for part time or part-time employees is rarely witnessed in other industry establishments where employees are usually employed for a long period of time. Hence, the human resource managers in the tourism and hospitality industry prepare work packages for their workers based on the seasonal flow of customers into the establishments.
This seasonal variation also affects the effective implementation of certain targets, especially those focusing on the quality of personnel recruited. Due to high competition levels, it is common for the cadre of employees to change dramatically such that at one point an establishment has the best of the best employees, while in a subsequent time they have average performance employees. Another aspect contributing to this element is the issue of competition among different establishments, so that during high seasons each establishment wants to recruit in high numbers, when the labor is limited. Competition is also exhibited across different geographical entities, which prompts qualified personnel to travel to other areas in search of better opportunities.
Age is another prominent factor seen in the tourism and hospitality industry. According to Nickson (2007, p.6) “young people are also prominent within the hospitality, leisure, travel, and tourism sector”. This is mainly driven by the element of vibrancy commonly associated with the tourism industry. As a result, older employees are considered a non-valuable part of the work face, while young employees are valued by their employers. The 2006 estimates of the United Kingdom reveal that that 37% of the work force fall under the age of 24 years while 58% are less than 34 years (Nickson 2007, p.6). This factor is also contributed by the influx of a younger work force from learning institutions offering tourism and hospitality. When these students report in these establishments for their industrial practical attachment, they dramatically change the preference of the managers. By virtue of the fact that students are highly interested to learn, they tend to infuse new strategies into the practice, which consequently improves the image of an establishment.
According to the International Labor Organization, with time students have become an important segment of the entire labor force in the hospitality and tourism industry. It is partly driven by the fact that the majority of them are prepared to work for relatively lower wages compared to normal cadre of workers, while at the same time exhibiting flexibility in their work patterns (Nickson 2007, p.6). Thus, this influx of young people results in the depreciation of human resource standards. Consequently, the managers have to contend themselves with the prevailing standards in the hope that the situation will be better as time goes by. Nevertheless, the virtue of the specialization factor is associated with most hospitality and tourism establishments, low skilled workers tend to portray as much input as their skilled counterparts.
The human resource in the tourism and hospitality industry tends to portray an imbalance in terms of gender. In essence, there are more women workers compared to males in most tourism establishments. This distinct gender composition is very definitive of the industry, even though there are relatively specific role-plays for each gender. Generally, there is an overall preference for women over men in the hospitality and tourism sector. This is probably driven by the fact that women traditionally perform chores such as housekeeping, washing, and cooking. Since the society is primarily male driven, there are certain elements associated with the hospitality and tourism industry such as gender violence and sexual harassment, which come into play.
Managing employer-employee relationship is another area that widens the human resource practice between tourism industry and other contemporary industries. According to Lee-Ross and Pryce (2010, p.20) “this situation may have been created unwittingly by an industry which historically has a poor record of employer/employee relationships.” This is mainly driven by strategies that were borrowed down from earlier times since the inception of tourism, in which employees were mainly derived from low social class groups. Due to the class disparities, the tradition of treating employees as insubordinates engulfed the entire industry. Surprisingly, very little has so far been done in the industry to address this issue.
This is a common place issue in tourism establishments in almost all geographical entities. The existence of a disconnection between the employers and employees is mainly driven by the limited interaction between the two parties. In essence, workers in the tourism industry always come to the realization that their employer will rarely take keen note of their well being; hence, they become accustomed to the taking personal responsibility for themselves (Lee-Ross & Pryce 2010, p. 20). Thus, compared to other industries where there are elaborate frameworks of taking care of the employees in the tourism and hospitality industry major focus is given to strengthening the emotional perspective of the employees, which undermines their well being.
The tourism industry provides employees and workers with a similar perspective and experience, when it comes to the interaction with customers. In other contemporary industries, such as retail and corporate entities, there is usually segregation in the interaction with customers, for example, in the bank setting, prominent persons will be served in a chosen area by senior personnel, while in the case of hospitality there are rarely any special treatments during the first interaction with customers, which levels the platform for managers and employees. According to Lee-Ross and Pryce (2010, p.18) in the case of tourism the issue of meeting prominent personalities is a critical issue. For example, there are chances that the manager can momentarily neglect his supervisory role and assume the role of the employee. Hence, in as much as managers belong to a high caliber of staff, in a particular establishment, they seem to compete with the employees for the attention of some customers. This further points out to the manager’s need to also take into account emotional management.
Moreover, most of the human resource managers in these establishments are mostly men there is complex relationship that exists between them and the clientele group. In as much as these issues may also be present in other industries, they are not as prevalent as in the tourism industry where it is not strange to come across such incidents. As such, the human resource managers in charge of tourism and hospitality establishments are aware of the possibility of the clientele surpassing their interaction with the women servants past the set professional barrier. In such a case, it is the duty of the manager to design a definitive sexual harassment policy to safeguard the interest of the workers and the establishment. The goal is to maintain a suitable in which professionalism is guaranteed at all times. Managers in other contemporary industries are not faced with similar challenges, partly, because there is limited interaction with the clientele.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that there are certain similarities in the human resource management context with other industries. This is mainly with regard to common labor aspects that effectively cut across numerous industrial settings. According to D'Annunzio-Green, Maxwell, and Watson (2002, p.23), the ability of the tourism industry to maintain high level services depends upon effective recruitment techniques, personnel selection mechanisms, industry demand for labor, skills measurement, timing elements, management philosophy, seasonality, and industry image. as important in the achievement of the management’s goals and initiatives envisioned for an organization. This implies that to some extent, the tourism industry borrows part of its management philosophy from other equally competitive industrial settings.
Finally, in the realm of tourism, it is important to acknowledge that the there are unique elements entailed in the management of the human resource. This cuts across all virtual components of employee development, which entails the recruitment process, actual accomplishment of work objectives, and the appraisal of employee performance. Emotional management is treated as a valuable component in managing employee, which is driven by the interaction factor with the clientele and absence of the manager at the time of service. The aspect of service is also relatively different in terms of perishability, intangibility, and inseparability. Remuneration of employees is another segment that experiences numerous challenges because of the poor classification system followed by employees. Other conspicuous elements that influence the delivery of service include age and gender. These aspects are among the most critical in understanding the inside issues affecting employees in accomplishing their assigned work objectives. Supervision of employee performance is limited by the direct interaction between the customer and the employees; hence, it is another area where the human resource managers have little influence over. Therefore, these factors show the manner in which the tourism industry cannot be compared to other services and manufacturing segments, where the human resource practices are relatively different.