Perspectives And Definitions The Industry

What is Hospitality?

Hospitality refers to the kindness in welcoming as well as looking after guest’s needs especially in relation to drinks, foods, and accommodation. It can also be defined as the process of relationship between a host and guest. Its main objective is to enhance the wealth of shareholder by satisfying and servicing guest. The industry includes private clubs, hotels and event planning among others. Hospitality providers are "part of the product themselves”, for instance, for a stranger to be contented, they must believe that they have received valuable services for their money and also feel respected and valued by the employees providing the services (Mbisse, 2015). When talking about hospitality, it is difficult to ignore the hospitality industry, and this can be generally be defined as the companies and organizations that provide food, accommodation, and drinks among other services.


Regardless of these meaning, no single and simple definition is globally accepted as the definition of hospitality. Many scholars and authors have tried to explain the real meaning of hospitality in different ways. Many have summarized it in terms of the scope of the industry and its characteristics that involve both intangible and tangible features of the delivery process. Others have tried to describe the industry by exploring the stakeholders affected, the industry impact in the society and economy and the mutual benefit generated. This paper discusses the meaning of hospitality.

Review of Literature

In recent years, there has been attempts to define hospitality though most of the definitions tended to focus on defining groups of industrial activities. In the past years this debate has been stimulated by work of Lashley & Morrison (2010), who analyses the work of Hemmington, (2007) presenting various definitions of hospitality from the commercial to philosophical perspectives such and role of the media, humour and postmodernism. The most important aspect of this work was the exploration of the hospitality concept in their domains of the private, social and commercial environment. The analysis led to debates challenging the traits of the “three domain approach”. It failed to include essential aspects of the industry and was considered, "poor relation" in comparison to hospitality in the private and social domain. Bowie et al., (2016), in their book, “Hospitality marketing” try to suggest that bars, hotels, restaurant are businesses where there is a vital relationships between the buyer and the seller. The client is not a guest, instead, they are customers, and the relationship is economic rather than philanthropic.

Looking at the work of Hepple; 1990 Kunwar (2017), suggest that, hospitality consist of four essential traits. Firstly, hospitality is interactive and integrates personal contact between the receiver as well as provider. Additionally, hospitality is the characteristics confessed by the guest who is away from home. Thirdly, the guest is provided with physiological as well as psychological needs and security. Moreover, the research suggests that once a guest is under the roof of the host, there are elements of the process of hospitality that can be distinguished. These elements are presented in three circles. The circles represent the following: the provider’s situation; this refers to the circumstance of the hotel which realizes the contact with the client. The waiter controls the situations as instructed by the employer and also is influenced by the standards, norms, and tempers. The second circle is the receiver situation. This is when the guest enters a hotel or restaurant and bring with them their ideas and background. The last case is the transfer situation which is created by both the receiver and the provider. It begins when the hospitality provider hosts the receiver. This means that planning and appropriate social strategies are essential tools to prevent culture clash and finding a solution that is offered by the hospitality and the expectations harmonize without cultural difference’s disturbance.

Social Meaning of Hospitality

One of the most important and innovative studies in the context of hospitality, is “hospitality as a social phenomenon”. These studies have been less heard, inferior, and marginalized (Kunwar, 2017). Studies in the social context of reception have shown that, the guest-host relationship is located in the core of hospitality and that it depends on the social, cultural context (Korstanje, 2017). Additionally, Kunwar (2017), suggests that looking at the social relationship at a different perspective, the guest-host relationship is multi-dimensional that can be perceived as a mirror that reflect values, social norms, ideologies, and beliefs. The central theme that explain the guest-host relationship via the social context includes; domestic and commercial discourses, the inclusion as well as exclusion dimensions. Thirdly is the map out of social context.

While quoting the work of King (1995) on the definition of hospitality, Lynch et al., (2011), explains that at times, the arriving stranger was perceived as a god or even a god’s representative. Nevertheless, in some societies, the stranger was recognized as a representative of evil and had to be placated. At other times, the stranger was regarded as a priest or pilgrim traveling to a holy place. This means that hospitality to strangers has a crucial role in society. Hospitality to strangers is equated to hospitality to God based on Christian traditions. For instance, in the Cristian book, the Bible, when Abraham welcomed three men, they turned out to be angels and additionally, Christ equated hospitality to a stranger as hospitality to himself. Nevertheless, the study also observed that, table manners was a platform of civilized norms that work to protect and reduce the tension of the guest as well as the host in situations which might be perceived as nervous. Visser (2015) stipulates that hospitality laws prevent a confrontation between the host and guest, and attacks with knives at the dining tables especially when the gest felt defenceless.

To understand the meaning of hospitality in the social context, it is important to understand the nature of hospitableness; hospitality as experience and behaviour. The Oxford dictionary describes hospitality as generous and friendly reception of stranger. Lashley (2015), explain that hospitability requires strangers to have a feeling that the host is hospitable via the feelings of desire to entertain, generosity and regards for the guest as a person. Hospitality leads to considerations of the concept of host-guest relationship, friendliness, entertainment, generosity and experiences given freely. In this regard, the cross-cultural and international dimension is also important. In other context, the gates, doors, walls, and corridors among other architectural structures defines the arrival ritual of the visitors. These structure defines the “without” and “within” marking the boundary of both the host and guest.

Historical Perspective

Studies have shown that hospitality dates as early as between 500 B.C and 500A.D. -a time which is known as the ancient world that occurred in Roman and Greek civilization (O'Gorman, 2010). Some of the factors affecting hospitality attitudes include believed religious practices as well as the advancement of commerce and trade. Evolution resulted in five hospitality dimensions. These dimensions include; the importance to humanity, the honourable traditions diversify and stratify as well as critical to human endeavours (O'Gorman, 2010). Some of the concepts of important traditional hospitality dimension include the concept of a stranger and a host who are related. Hospitality is essential in revealing much about believes and values of society. During the Medieval Period, the nobilities used to stay in the monasteries. Later there was the existence of caravanserais which provided a resting destination for the caravans along the Middle Eastern route along with the monasteries.

Commercial Hospitality

During the early 1800BC, hotels in Mesopotamia were in commerce of supplying women, drinks as well as accommodations for guests. Drinks usually included barley beers and wines. There was a strict rule against dilution of the drinks. During the ancient days, many sites were associated with commercial hospitality including Rome and Pompeii which was an important site (O’Gorman, 2010). Pompeii before its destruction had a population of approximately ten thousand people and was lost for 1600 years and later rediscovered in 1748. The excavation of Pompeii provided extraordinary details on commercial hospitality. The city was a major centre for commerce and entertainment in the Roman lifestyles. Some archaeologists identified approximately 160 properties that could have been restaurants and bars and numerous hotels (O'Gorman, 2010). Additionally, the city could host more than fifty guests and had a large garden.

Varieties of poems gathered in the seventh century AD, such as the “Hamāsa al-sughrā” shows reference to strong hospitality. The poem shows that during the night, fire attracted travellers without minding about the quest (O'Gorman, 2007). Food was prepared for the stranger and offered a room to sleep. In the commercial hospitality context, there is evidence that the sector was separate and distinct from private hospitality. It supported travellers and as well attracts them which was integral and served as the need of the merchants. The commercial provision was not a stratified and homogeneous as it offered services based on the social class of the guest. These services had to be paid, and the more the money the guest had, the more services were provided (O'Gorman, 2009).

Discussion and Conclusion

Hospitality includes the provision of sleep, drinks, accommodation and food designed to please the guest. The important factors in the hospitality services included knowing what generates enormous pleasure and generosity to guest. In the ancient hospitality, security was not a concern for both the stranger and his possession.

Secondly, some norms dictate the host behaviour towards the guest also the behaviour of the guest towards the stranger. The stranger was obliged not to harm the host and to observe the expected protocols while in one roof with the host. For instance, hospitality laws prevent a confrontation between the guest and the host. Nevertheless, socially, hospitality had a significant role in society. For example, in the Christian context, strangers were perceived as blessings. Christ himself equated hospitality to a stranger as hospitality to himself. Hospitality leads to consideration of the concept of guest-host relationship, entertainment, friendliness, generosity and experiences given freely.

The modern commercial hospitality started from the accommodation during the early 1800BC. Most cities that show the evidence of commercial hospitality including Rome and Pompeii. Excavation evidence shows the existence of restaurants and bars and numerous hotels in Pompeii long time ago. It is evident that commercial hospitality was separate and distinct from civil hospitality and domestic hospitality. In commercial hospitality, there was a large scale provision of foods, drinks among other luxuries to support and attract travellers. As discusses, there was diversification of commercial hospitality, and later it became clustered within cities. The supply of commercial hospitality was subject to the current market demand in urban centres.

In conclusion, hospitality refers to the kindness in welcoming and looking after the needs of guest especially concerning drinks, foods, and accommodation. Though this definition cannot satisfy all the characteristics of hospitality, to some extent it tries to define the nature of hospitality. There have been debates on the specific and satisfying definition of hospitality though even today no description that is globally accepted. Reception is a social phenomenon, therefore should be considered as a social norm and culture. Based on different culture and religion, hospitality was perceived with a different perspective. The Christians regarded guest with respect as per the teaching of the Bible. Different customs and religion had their view of hospitality. Hospitality dates back to 500 B.C to 500A.D, and this is an indication that the act of guest accommodation, food and drinks offering is old. Lastly, hospitality varies with the context in that commercial hospitality varies with personal hospitality. In commercial hospitality, guests had to be attracted by being offered more luxuries and food. In this kind of hospitality, security was not a concern, but money was.

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