One of the misunderstood public sectors by lay persons is the hotel industry. The reason for this is that though it offers services to the public domain, the main driving force behind it is the private sector which does so in a way that differs from other service industries that operate in similar circumstances. To understand this factor, let us have insight into the hotel industry according to the elaboration below.
As a public sector, the hotel industry offers its services to a wide spectrum of the populace in any given location, country, continent or region of the world. On the other hand, as a private sector, over ninety percent of it is owned and managed by individuals or companies. This means that less than ten percent of it falls under the control of state governments the world over.
It is worth to note that the hotel industry offers efficient services in comparison to several service industries. This factor can hoodwink one who is not aware that the private sector is its driving force into thinking that the often lump some state capital gets withdrawn from government tax coffers so as to finance this industry the way Emperor Constantine of the ancient Roman Empire gave all the available state capital at one time as offering for the work of God to the Roman Catholic Church. This assumption seems to be the true picture when dozens of magnificent hotel capitols around the globe are considered along the same school of thought. However, this is not always the case.
In other words, it is the private sector that own, finance and manage the hotel industry in such a way that its efficiency camouflage the inefficiency which exist along it thus within the very industry the world over. In other words, not often is it a bed of roses on the side of the services that hotel industry offers. This means that though this industry is efficient, it is only up to a certain level since some inefficiency exists in it the way it does in all other industries. On the other hand, this factor acts as a blessing in disguise as it sparks off stiff competition within the whole industry the world over. The end result is usually an active sector in comparison to several others. No wonder it is consistent in attracting both customers and investors even though not all may be well in it.
The above immediate deliberation on hotel and industry means that though state governments hardly get involved in the pioneering, ownership, financing and management of this industry, they do come in when it is necessary only. Such involve the creation of good business conditions by enacting relevant laws and regulations on the same-empowering the tourism sector because it is directly linked to the hotel industry-nationalization of the hotel industry so as to be owned by the state in case the government of the day is socialistic.
Analysis of the above contributions in the hotel industry by governments of states world wide reveal that the main player in this industry is the private sector. In other words, investments in the industry are effected by or get channeled by investors or financial bodies like banks through interested individual business persons, companies and other stake holders. This calls for a free type of economy within any given state as the norm the world over.
TYPES OF HOTELS
Hotels are classified into two categories by the use of or the reference to the protruding sides of a star. Before hotels get classified, they have to meet the pre-condition of possessing standard quality both physically and service-wise. In other words, they first have to possess the capability of offering quality services to the people of the locality in which they are situated, say, a city or a country. Secondly, if tailored to do so, they should offer services to the international community too to their satisfaction. The latter is an added advantage when it comes to grading them. In other words, in the classification of hotels, belonging to national or international status matters.
Once the above pre-conditions have been met then hotels may be categorized as three star hotels thus third class category hotels, four star hotels or five star hotels if they are of international status thus first class category hotels. International or five star hotels that specialize in handling tourists are referred to as tourist class hotels also. This means that at five star hotels, guests may be of three types, namely, national guests-international guests-tourist guests. The latter may be national thus domestic tourists or foreign thus international tourists. On the other hand, expected at most three star hotels are mainly national guests though some international guests opt to reside at such hotels which offer services that almost march those of five star hotels. Of great interest are international guests who opt to be accommodated at three star hotels that offer average or cheap services without much ado. In other words, on accommodation, it is not the type of hotel which matter but personal choice.
Factors that are considered before hotels are graded as in the above include: the qualities of the physical amenities available-the quality of services offered-the approximate number of guests that can be hosted at any given time-the financial status of the customers in speculation-the capability to attract only resident guests-the capability to attract both resident and international guests. On the other hand, these factors also determine the pricing of services that are on offer and the products that are on sale at a hotel in relation to the recommended grade.
Otherwise, the most amusing factor is when terms like café-cafeteria-guest house-hostel-inn-lodge-restaurant-resort-villa seem to mean the same as hotel.
This is a misconception that is even made more complex when certain businesses that are similar to that of bars are referred to as pubs. Such arise from ignorance on the correct definitions of the terms in question especially by lay persons. The end result is usually the naming of businesses that are related to the hotel industry incorrectly. So, it is important to understand the correct meanings of such terms as follows:
- Annex is an added, a separate or a detached extension of, say, a hotel or a restaurant building as in this case.
- Bar is a room in a public house in which customers sit down to drink alcohol or refreshments that are served across a counter by waiters or waitresses through whom they place orders and pay bills also.
- Bistro is a small restaurant.
- Brasserie is a restaurant that basically serves beer with food. This may not be compulsory today as food may be served without beer or food though it may be accompanied with soft drinks, drinking water or both.
- Buffet is a room or a counter where light meals, snacks and soft drinks may be bought. Such meals might consist of several dishes or cuisines from which guests serve food individually by choosing what one wants to eat.
- Buffet Car is a railway coach serving light meals, snacks and soft drinks. Some buffet cars are referred to as kitchen cars probably because they are rooms which have counters that separate the kitchens from the dining rooms thus it is from the counters where food and beverages are served though by waiters or waitresses contrary to self service as should be the case of cafeterias. In other cases, they are referred to as restaurant cars.
- Café is a small house in which coffee is served and drunk by customers who pay for the services thus a coffee house by another name as a French word. In America, it is used to refer to a bar or a night club at times.
- Cafeteria is a house in which customers collect their meals on trays at a counter and usually pay before sitting down to eat. This is contrary to its Latin American Spanish origin where as cafeterie it means coffee shop. Similarly, it is contrary to the French word cafetiere which means a coffee pot that has a plunger underneath it.
Otherwise, a cafeteria system of serving food and beverages is suitable for use during birth day parties, tea parties and wedding receptions though as is usual in such functions, no fee is charged unless pre-arrangements have been made so as to use the opportunity to, say, raise funds for a special purpose that is connected to the very function or otherwise.
- Club is an organization or a premise where people meet or gather periodically or frequently at an appointed time and for a programmed duration so as to participate in a common activity or in a number of certain activities and or share common interests.
The activities and interests of club participants include drinks-cuisines-music-drama-games-philately-photography-filming-hunting-tours-travels. They are usually done as hobbies-pass time-leisure-career-education by using the social amenities offered which may include hostels and or guest houses for temporary residence in respect of members or participants whose homes may be located far away from the venue.
So, there exist different types of clubs, the membership ones that accept members only unless specified and the business oriented ones that accept all and sundry so long as they can foot the bills of the goods and services on offer. Examples of these are as follows:
Night Club: For pass time and leisure through the playing of billiards game that is commonly referred to as pool game-playing darts-drinking of either soft drinks like soda or alcoholic beverages like beer or cocktail-listening and or dancing to either a juke box’s, a discotheque’s, or a live band’s music-eating certain menus like barbecue thus a business type of club.
Music Club: For learning and practicing music thus a membership type of club.
Drama Club: For learning theatre arts and rehearsals of plays-drama dances-choral verses-narratives thus a membership type of club.
Sports Club: For practicing and playing games thus membership type of club. There exist two types of sports clubs, one that welcomes members only and one that welcomes both members as participants and none members as either spectators or fans though in the case of the latter one, modern clubs encourage them to register as member fans.
In the above, contrary to night clubs, the latter three may be conducted during day time, night time or both. Though it is not usual that certain clubs are referred to as day clubs, those that offer similar services to night clubs do so during day time especially when they are licensed to operate for twenty four hours though with certain omissions like the absence of disco and live band music. However, during weekends, the usually omitted activities, for example, the immediate referred ones above get performed during day time from, say, the early afternoon hours.
In the country side and suburbs as is the case in Africa, there exist certain weekend day clubs either in buildings, in the open under vegetation cover or both, serving traditional liquor or herbal based beverages for the maintenance of good health. The liquor ones are usually referred to by the name of the type of brew on offer in combination with the name, club, to boot. Examples are, Busaa Club or Qutee Club. The same applies to the ones serving herbal beverages though in most cases their names are generalized with the word club to boot so as to reflect the availability of most herbal drinks if not all the expected ones, for example, Miti Ni Dawa Club which according to the Kiswahili language of East Africa means that trees are medicine. Similarly, the same applies to the ones serving beef soup referred to as Soup Clubs that are popular in certain parts of Africa with good examples existing in the greater Mount Kenya region
As is evident from the above, in certain types of clubs if not in most, the element of restaurant and pub come into play a number of times if not often. In other cases, boarding and lodging accompanies them such that the hotel factor is not left out thus club’s inclusion among the hospitality and catering industry factors here-in.
- Confectionery is a business dealing in or a shop selling sweet ingredients like biscuits, cookies, cakes, chocolates, and lollipops thus confection is a dish or a package with sweet ingredients while a confectioner is a person who makes or sells such items. On the other hand, confectionery is also the skill of making or mixing sweet ingredients, for example, the icing on cakes or biscuits, the processing of ice cream, milk shakes, lollipops, the mixing of raisins such as black berries in cakes and black currants in bread.
- Guest house is a private house offering paid accommodation, for example, within the premise of, say, a sports club so as to target members, participants or fans whose homes are not located near-by and may wish to spend a night or two at the venue as they wait for the next events. This means that public houses which operate the same type of business yet are identified by the same name as is common practice today actually function as lodging houses thus a misconception.
- Inn according to old English is a house providing accommodation especially to travelers as was the case in the biblical story of the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of the Good Samaritan.
According to new English, an inn is a public house providing alcoholic liquor for consumption on the premises and sometimes accommodation as used to be the case during America’s wild-west cow boy times confirmed by Hollywood movies on the same.
- Kiosk is a light open-fronted booth from which items like newspapers, tickets, telephone services and food are sold. So, in the case of food, it should be referred to as a food kiosk.
Kiosk is also a building in which refreshments are served in a park or in a zoo.
- Lodging or a lodging house is a house in which temporary accommodation or lodgings are let in rooms especially in an urban centre and its environs.
- Lodge is a large house of hotel type that stands in for services offered at a hotel in one way or another or, a hotel that is positioned in a resort area for example, a multipurpose park, say, away from an urban set up, a game park or a game reserve.
Other meanings of a lodge are as follows:
A gatekeeper’s small house that is positioned at the gate of, say, a park, a large residential house, residential houses that share one gate, a school, a college or a factory. It is also referred to as a porter’s house or a porter’s lodge probably with respect to the olden days when rich people’s security guards at the gates of their compounds doubled as porters too.
A house usually occupied by hunters and shooters during the season for hunting and shooting in the country side is a lodge.
A building where the members of a branch of a society such as the Freemasons hold their meetings that is referred to as a Masonic lodge.
The lair of a beaver bird or an otter bird is also referred to as a lodge.
So, a lodge should not be mistaken for lodging or a lodging house as is usually the case unless reference is made to, say, a hotel that is positioned in a resort such as a park of some sort.
- Pub according to British English is a public house where alcohol, beer, spirits and wine are sold and drunk thus a synonym for a bar.
Pub can also be used as a reference to any public house other than a bar. However, since it is universally attached to the drinking of liquor, it might cause confusion unless this second meaning is elaborated further.
The Australian reference version of pub is hotel. This returns us to square one above as to the reason why such terms are being defined here-in which is to avoid misconception as the Aussie version of pub can easily be misunderstood by one. So, when one is on a visit to or on a tour of Australia, he or she should understand the Aussies use the word pub to refer to hotel.
- Resort is a place frequented by people especially for holidays or for some specific purpose due to certain attractions there-in.
The above definition of a resort may apply to a small, an average or an extensive area or, a feature like a building of some sort. Reference to the latter example when a hotel is given resort as part of its name is either meant to inform other people the truth about its type of customers as being those of holiday or merry making type or, to use the same reasons so as to attract new customers.
- Restaurant is a public premise where meals and or refreshments are served to customers by waiters or waitresses through whom they pay bills after they have eaten or drunk. A worker in a restaurant according to the French language is referred to as a restaurateur that means a restaurant keeper.
- Stall is a stand or a booth of a trader in a market place where the display of a single or variety of items for sale is done. In the case of the edibles, they should be foodstuffs that are yet to be cooked unless they are ripe fruits. In other words, cooked food is hardly sold at stalls.
- Villa is a rented holiday home especially abroad.
The above definition of a villa does not rule out renting the same within home country so long as one is on holiday or is touring. This is why villas which are built in places that are frequented by tourists are often referred to as tourist villas.
Otherwise, the original or the basic meaning of a villa is a large country house with an estate attached to it or round-about it thus a country residence.
- Hostel is a building of residence for students, specific groups of workers, travelers or homeless people offering affordable lodging and food. There exist wings for male and female people in most hostels though some have added family wings in contemporary time.
- Hotel is an establishment providing accommodation and meals for payment which may be equal to hostel charges or more as is usually the case depending on the grade of the hotel. It does not offer meals alone as is often thought to be the case by certain people because a combination of the same with accommodation is what makes it to be referred to as hotel. A worker in a hotel is referred to as hotelier which means, a hotel keeper.
ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT
It is evident from the above that the notion of hotel was derived from that of hostel as a basis upon which it got established. As time progressed, it developed into a complex that it is today by incorporating most of the above defined factors as part and parcel of it. Its title of hotel was adapted from the French language similar to most boarding and catering industry’s terminologies like bistro- brasserie-buffet-café-resort-restaurant. It is worth to understand that this industry’s association with French words is proof that France was way ahead in the hotel industry during its formative years in comparison to many states of the worlds. No wonder the popularity of French fries in many countries the world over.
As the hotel industry continued to develop, other countries joined the bandwagon too as is evident from its other terminologies like annex that is a Latin word thus Italian, sauna which is a Finnish word and villa which was associated with the ancient Roman Empire thus Italian again. Not to be left out was Great Britain which in certain instances hardly contributed their own words to this industry. So they incorporated some French words into the English Language as is evident in several linguistic facts, for example, annexe for annex, hotel for hotel, restaurant for restaurant car and cafetiere for a coffee pot that has a plunger underneath it. By being European countries, France, Italy, Finland and Great Britain tend to prove that Europe was involved in the pioneering and in the development of the hotel industry.
In the case of America, since it got inhabited later on through the influx of migrants from Europe, through them the notion of the hotel industry unto its establishment found its way there. So, America too made its contribution to this industry as is evident from the word confectionery.
The Asian case may be different but being part and parcel of the origin of civilization, it cannot be written off when it comes to the pioneering of the hotel industry as follows:
According to the biblical days in Israel, it is stated in the gospel according to Saint Luke that after the birth of Jesus Christ, he was placed in a manger in swaddling clothes because there was no room at the inn. Similarly, the story of the Good Samaritan that was narrated later on by Jesus Christ to his audience when he was a grown up person was suggestive of the existence of inns in the ancient world too. This was because the Good Samaritan knew exactly where to take the man who had been beaten by highway robbers the previous night for care and nursing when he offered to help him at the break of day. It was non other than at an inn by the wayside nearby that he seemed to be conversant with. This act suggests that he was a frequent traveler along that route as inns which are part and parcel of the hotel industry in modern days were frequented by travelers during the ancient days in tandem with its original definition according to old English.
Another example is that at the dawn of the exploration of the earth during the medieval years, one of the motivating factors besides the search for more land by the Europeans was the availability of spices in the orient world as was the case in India. This was suggestive of expertise in the preparation and in the preservation of several delicacies in that part of the world as early as those days and in the preceding centuries despite the non existence or the development of the hotel industry to the standard it is today there during that time. The modern efficiency on the same by the south and the south eastern Asian traditional cooks especially when it comes to the application of vegetative or herbal additives spices inclusive to most types of food is an unsung wonder by the rest of the world.
As for Australia and New Zealand, the Britons who inhabited both places introduced the hotel industry there.
The case of Africa on the hotel industry is a two-tier one as it owes its introduction and development to the European settlers after the partition of the African continent, the Asians of Arab and Indian origin whom after the exposition of the interior of Africa by the white settlers joined the bandwagon by settling there-in too.
Therefore, in a modern hotel, one is bound to find bar or pub, café, lodging, restaurant and cafeteria during special functions among others. No wonder the misconception by referring to them as hotels in their own rights when one is ignorant about their correct definitions as was stated earlier on in the case of lay persons on the same.
As if not enough, the incorporation of the above referred factors continued to expand bringing on board swimming pools, saunas, out door and in door games among others. With such a long list, hotel management world wide had no option but to professionalize its services on administration with secretarial and accounting departments to boot.
This means that in contemporary time, hotel employees have to be trained in colleges of catering and hospitality in the following courses:-administration- accountancy and auditing-banqueting and events management-bar, restaurant and boarding management-cleaning services-confectionery-consultancy services in hotel industry-front office operations-types of food and beverages-food production-foreign languages-hotel industry in the cabin crew of ships and aircraft-hotel management-information communication technology in hotel and industry-kitchen management-laundry and dry cleaning-marketing-office secretarial-pastry and bakery-project management in hotel industry-public relations-reception, hospitality and customer care-record keeping and bills settlement-rooms management and house keeping-sales and catering services-supervision of hotel operations-travel agency operations-tour guide-tourism management.
In other words, the hotel industry is among the top employers in the world today, perhaps second to the entertainment industry. In addition, it has created more indirect income sources for sectors that are related to it like farming plus purchase and supply of food and beverages.
In a nutshell therefore, as much as hotel industry developed gradually from the ancient time before the birth of Christ to date during the Anno Domini time on the Asian continent, Europe, America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand as has been elaborated above, from 1945 after the Second World War onwards, the Swiss perfected it in such a way that today they are heavyweights in hotel industry as is proven by their high class colleges on the catering and hospitality courses as are mentioned above.
Similar to the above, the Swiss did the same to the banking industry and in the industry of manufacturing precision facilities, for example, in laboratory science apparatus-binoculars-cameras-clocks-wrist watches which include the world re-known Oris and Timex wrist watches. This was in accordance with their state’s policy of involvement in the economic activities that other countries had not shown much interest in after the Second World War. The aim of this was to be a front runner in the banking and in the precision instruments industries so that in the process they could turn around Switzerland’s down ridden economy due to the five year long war as was the case with other European states also by then. Courtesy of America’s Breton Woods financial institutions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that got established at about the same time for the same purpose.
FUNCTIONS OF HOTELS
From the above, it is obvious that the basic functions of hotel industry are the serving of meals plus beverages in the name of refreshments and the offering of accommodation to customers. In other words, these two factors make a hotel to be complete such that omission of any one of them reduces its status to that of a restaurant, a pub or a lodge.
On the other hand, due to a hotel’s multiple departments as a combination of restaurant, cafeteria, cafe, lodge and even villa in the name of annex that belong to the first incorporated category of facilities together with the second one that includes conference halls-movie halls-auditoriums-gymnasiums-libraries for print and electronic media-saunas-swimming pools-casinos-fanfare and or circus-out door games’ arenas-in door games’ facilities, the following are its added functions:-the holding of meetings-recreation-leisure-home away from home thus a complex it is today as was mentioned above.
SECURITY OF THE HOTEL INDUSTRY
As much as the basic and the newly added facilities in hotels are well intentioned, it is sad to learn that certain people misuse them. This is because the world being a mixture of people from all walks of life, it is never complete without occurrences of adversities. For example, such people use hotels as venues for planning vices like robberies, kidnaps, coup de tats, terrorism plus the use of the same facilities for promiscuous purposes instead of virtues like the planning unto the holding of wedding receptions or parties there-in and the launching of business ventures the way other people do.
So, negative activities like the ones referred above have tarnished the good name of the hotel industry. This has made certain religious organizations and moralists to come up with their own hotels or related facilities like inns or guest houses which operate the hostel method of female-male-family wings as was elaborated above so as to counter vices like promiscuity. A good example is the fast mushrooming of Christian hotels-guest houses-inns in many urban centers world wide. So, the other vices need corrective measures too.
On the other hand, as it might be impossible to counter most of the above mentioned vices since they are often conducted in secrecy, the ones which are related to insecurity like robbery and terrorism that also involve the smuggling of portable ammunition into hotels should be dealt with smartly as follows:
Firstly, through thorough checking of customers, their luggage and their vehicles by use of detectors as they enter into hotels. This should be an international policy the world over.
Secondly, hotel management throughout the world should deploy twenty four hour hawk eyed security personnel within and without hotel premises, install CCTV cameras, close-circuit television networks and alarm systems to boot since hotels are prone to attacks.
It is encouraging that some hotels especially those of international and or tourist class have implemented the above recommendations on realization of the contemporary sophisticated adversities that have taken place around the globe in the past. So, other hotels need to follow suit as expenses of such implementations do not go to waste but do help in the attraction of more customers to such hotels because of the assurance of their security. In this way, the hotel industry will be secure.
Note in the above the term hotel industry in contrast to the term hotel and industry because as was elaborated earlier on, the hotel sector has incorporated several departmental catering and hospitality facilities that include café-cafeteria-club-pub-restaurant-boarding sectors. On the other hand, these facilities have the ability to exist independently in their own rights as separate entities thus industry yet their incorporation into the hotel sector has transformed it into the business giant it is today that offers its services to the public domain which accommodates it yet it is managed mainly by the private sector.
COPYRIGHT: WILFRED OTIENO 2012