Tourism has by now become a global undertaking by consumers. As with other industries that operate in a globalised market, the hospitality industry is highly competitive with many companies vying for an extremely fickle and highly mobile customer base. Hospitality businesses are thus driven by a complex web of competitive strategy whereby marketing and operation is strongly customer focused (Olsen and Roper, 1998; Okumus et al., 2010). Consumers within the tourism and travel sector are well informed and experienced and know what they want. Therefore, customer expectations tend to be established in the various market segments and it is up to the hotels to deliver a service that meets and exceeds these expectations. This essay argues that to meet customer expectations the service delivery system must be efficient, effective and of high quality. This can only be achieved if the process design is supported by an effective employee training strategy. The essay will firstly explore some current literature to identify and critically analyse current issues and theories in the hospitality industry with particular reference to service delivery and quality, process design, employee training and competitive advantage. The paper will then relate these issues to the Indian hotel group Ginger Hotels to evaluate the applicability of theory to the practical world. The focus will be on the importance of staff training in front office and housekeeping processes.
Theory / Literature
To develop appropriate strategies in the complex hospitality market sector is of vital importance. Porter (1996) suggests that there are three key principle that underlie strategic positioning, i.e. (1) strategy is creating a unique and valuable position, (2) strategy requires trade-offs in competition, and (3) strategy must construct a fit among activities. The first principle is also divided into three facets, i.e. (a) serving a few needs of many customers, (b) serving many needs of a few customers, and (c) serving many needs of many customers in a narrow market. This suggests that companies have to choose what strategy to pursue. Porter’s Five Forces model gives a further guide as to what influences strategy. The five forces being (1) threat of new entrants, (2) bargaining power of suppliers, (3) bargaining power of buyers, (4) threat of substitute services or products, and (5) competition (Porter, 2008). In the hospitality industry competition and bargaining power are perhaps the most relevant forces but all these forces, in fact, work hand in hand, leaving a very complex environment (Olsen and Roper, 1998; Tavitiyaman et al., 2011). There are many other approaches to strategic management apart from Porter’s model but Managers tend to avoid too much complexity and opt for one approach that suits (Kim and Oh, 2004).
There is now a current trend of hotels becoming increasingly customer focused due to the high bargaining power of consumers in the hotel sector, particularly in view of massive competition globally. The quality of service delivered is at the forefront of most hoteliers to capture the ever illusive customer and his or her loyalty. Mohsin and Lockyer (2010) investigated customer perceptions of service quality in New Dheli hotels and found significant gaps between perception and actual delivery. Thus service quality is high on the agenda as argued by AbuKhalifeh and Som (2012) who put forward the Parasuraman SERVQUAL management framework model that aims at achieving customer satisfaction in food and beverage departments of Indian hotels based on service quality dimensions of tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. This is consistent with Gupta et al. (2012) who also emphasise the importance of the service element in the Indian hospitality sector. However, although it is highlighted...