HOTELs & TOURISM
tourist perceptions of british hotels in the new millenium
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary 3
- Introduction 4
- Hotels 5
2.1. Five Star Hotel 5
2.2. Standard Hotel 6
- Customer 6
3.1. Perception 6
3.2. Standardisation 7
3.3. Subjective Analysis 8
- Conclusion 9
- Appendices 10
- References 11
Within this assignment, it is my intention to write a comprehensive report in which I will concentrate on the subject area of UK tourism and the hotel industry; more specifically, it is my intention to track the theme/issue within the area of customer perception of British hotels from the perspective of a tourist. For this particular theme, I will provide critical analysis as well as journalistic evidence—in the form of media coverage. The overall objectives of this assignment are of the following: to assess the presence of customer relations in service management and to undertake the analysis of adopted strategies in order to design, deliver and improve services. With regards the evidence that I will be collecting (that will be included in the appendices of this assignment), this will be in the form of online media articles.
In relation to the theme about which I have chosen to write: although the assignment brief states that I should “write a report on how this theme develops through the weeks/months (from October 2010 onwards),” it is very difficult to write a comprehensive report about this highly important issue in the aforementioned time frame. Therefore, I have chosen to write this assignment from a holistic perspective in which I have provided expositions (which covers several years); the theme is still relevant today, and has been relevant for decades. The appendices include relevant media documents from January.
According to the World Tourism Organisation (Unwto.org, 2010), the United Kingdom is ranked number six in the top ten international destinations rankings. According to the Tourism Alliance (TourismAlliance.com, n.d.), tourism is the sixth largest industry in the UK. The industry generates approximately £86 billion per annum—which is 6.4% of the gross domestic product of the UK. With this in mind, it is abundantly clear just how important the tourism industry is to the UK economy as a whole. If, for example, the tourism and hotel industries were to go into decline, severe economic repercussions would arise on a national scale; I’m providing these statistical expositions is because they provide you with an insight into the critical importance of the tourism industry within the UK. The area of “Service Quality” is a fundamental constituent of the hotel industry: there exists no complex theory behind the quality of service in the tourism industry—only simple logic. If a customer experiences poor quality whilst residing in a hotel within the UK, it is fairly likely that they will not repeat the experience—it really is that simple! For this reason, a multitude of global hotel corporations have adopted internationally recognised standards such as the International Organization for Standardization ISO 9001:2008 (ISO.org, n.d.); the main objective of this comprehensive certification system is to provide organisations with the theoretical tools to have (among other things) a customer focused approach, a systematic approach to management and a factual decision making approach based on objective reasoning. Unfortunately, it is likely that many of the smaller organisations who are involved in the national tourism industry will not have access and/or information / knowledge of these fundamental theoretical principles—which have in themselves proven to be highly successful on a global scale.
With these facts in mind, this assignment will concentrate on providing reports on customer perceptions of the hotel industry in the United Kingdom. It must be stressed that national statistics do no always provide an accurate picture of customer perceptions; statistics can be very easily manipulated in order to further enhance the basis of an argument in any given situation. Therefore, in the journalistic reports that I include within this essay, it will include comments of individuals who have made a contribution to the report in question.
Ritz Carlton, London
2.1 Five Star Hotel
Hotels are by far and the way the most popular fundamental destination for a tourist. Wealthy tourists would probably opt for high-end four star hotels or five-star hotels. If we take, for example, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in London (RitzCarlton.com, n.d.), this hotel is a popular luxury hotel with an outstanding reputation. The mere fact that it has a marvellous global reputation of excellence is likely the have a profound effect on an individual’s expectations and perception of the service; this is a distinct advantage from the outset (for Ritz-Carlton). The Ritz-Carlton is a subsidiary of Marriott Incorporated—a major transnational corporation with an income of over $10 billion annually—and this equates to the fact that they’re likely to have invested a relatively large proportion of their budget into quality management. It is probable that the Ritz-Carlton will adhere to a centralised quality management infrastructure enforced by Marriott Incorporated. As shown at Marriott’s website, one of the hotel’s in their chain have been awarded with the ISO 9001 certification (Marriott.com, 2009). The point is, is that the larger hotel chains with £ millions / £ billions at their disposal in terms of budget possess a distinct advantage over smaller hotel establishments; the larger corporations will always have more funds to invest in customer relationship management, quality management and perception management. This, of course, increases the probability that customers will have a pleasant experience. Tourism in the UK is largely dependent on the hotel industry; if the hotel “get’s it right,” then this will have a positive impact on the UK tourism economy as a whole.
2.2 Standard Hotel
Obviously, the overwhelming vast majority of global citizens are not overly wealthy individuals. Therefore, it stands to reason that the majority of tourists who visit the UK are not “rich.” Because of this, there exists a multitude of standard / mid-range hotels which are often utilised by tourists—this includes low star hotels as well as bed and breakfast hotels. The underlying factor with these smaller organisations is that their income is far smaller (by many orders of magnitude) than their transnational counterparts. If you take a small hotel that generates £500,000 per annum turnover, and compare that with a large hotel corporation that has an income of £5 billion per annum, then you can imagine the potential difference in the experience from the perspective of the customer. The smaller organisation is probably not going to have the budget—to invest in—nor the prior existing knowledge of international quality management systems. Therefore, the hotel in essence will not have the fundamental and centralised operational principles to which all the staff must adhere. Unfortunately, the customer will in turn receive an experience of diminished quality.
As stated by a British citizen on the BBC.co.uk (2010) website: “Our hotels are overpriced, our restaurants are expensive, our tourist attractions and shops are a rip off.” There is no denying the fact that tourists (whether or not they’re British) perceive British hotels as being overpriced in comparison with competing hotels—which are of similar quality—that are situated within other parts of Europe. This perception is shared by the former UK government’s Tourist Minister (Margaret Hodge); Hodge states that “I agree that hotels are expensive and I worry about the quality” during a conversation with a media organisations (Bingham, 2008). The UK tourism industry—including the hotel industry—is going to experience, as it were, a major “shot in the arm” in 2012 because of the London Olympic Games. For this short period of time, London will probably become the world’s premier tourist attraction. This will equate to the rapid expansion of the UK tourism economy and a major demand for hotel accommodation during this period.
A disconcerting report by Skidmore (2008) confirms that “visitors to London are running the risk of staying in dirty and sub-standard accommodation because the owners of most premises do not take part in a national grading scheme.” The grading scheme to which Skidmore is referring is that of the classification system (star rating) regulated by the Automobile Association (AA). The grading scheme is officially known as “AA Hotel Recognition Scheme” (TheAA.com, n.d.); the AA along with UK tourist authorities such as VisitBritain, VisitScotland and Visit Wales classify hotels into star ratings, and these are described as follows (TheAA.com, n.d.):
“Courteous staff provide an informal yet competent service. The majority of rooms are en suite, and a designated eating area serves breakfast daily and dinner most evenings.”
“All rooms are en suite or have private facilities. A restaurant or dining room serves breakfast daily and dinner most evenings.”
“Staff are smartly dressed and professionally presented. All rooms are en suite, and the restaurant or dining room is open to residents and non-residents.”
“Professional, uniformed staff respond to your needs or requests, and there are usually well-appointed public areas. The restaurant or dining room is open to residents and non-residents, and lunch is available in a designated eating area.”
“Luxurious accommodation and public areas, with a range of extra facilities and a multilingual service available. Guests are greeted at the hotel entrance. High quality menu and wine list.”
The quality standards brochure provides a highly comprehensive list of criterion in which it states categorically the objectives that a hotel must achieve to be awarded with a grading of 1 – 5 stars.
3.3 Subjective Analysis
From a personal perspective, I feel that the centralisation of standardisation is the way forward in terms of providing a consistent quality framework to which all hotels must abide. For example, if the UK government are concerned about the quality of hotels (or lack thereof), and that they’re concerned that this could have a detrimental effect on the UK economy, then why not enforce a centralised standardisation infrastructure as part of UK legislation? As I stated earlier, the ISO 9001 is a globally recognised and respected standard for quality management systems; the ISO 9001 is probably not suitable for smaller establishments such as B&Bs and small hotels. However, a framework could be developed for these smaller outfits so that they can establish a solid platform from which to rebuild their tarnished reputations.
Human beings, by nature, are conditioned to certain standards of living; if an individual’s standards of living are very high, then it will be very difficult to please this individual regardless of the luxurious surroundings with which you present them. If we analyse the following scenario objectively (without the inclusion of libellous statements): let’s use the example of Paris Hilton—this individual is famous for being the granddaughter of the founder of Hilton Hotels Corporation (now known as Hilton Worldwide), and indeed the daughter of Richard Howard Hilton. It is probable that Paris Hilton has been conditioned (from birth) to some of the most luxurious surroundings in existence. The history and materialistic luxury that she has experienced may have had a profound impact on her perception of quality and standards; presumably, it will be very difficult to “please” her in comparison with an individual who has never experienced such wealth and prosperity. The point is, is that one must consider the background of an individual in terms of the validity of their perception of quality. Obviously, there will be some individuals in existence that just cannot feel the emotion of satisfaction—and they will always find fault even if the other 99.9% of customers vehemently disagree with them.
With this in mind, I believe that it would be best practice to analyse the potential prospect of the following: no matter how theoretically (and practically) sound the quality management system is, there are members of the public that enjoy complaining / cannot be pleased, and that this should in no way reflect a lack of standard so long as the quality management system is adhered by all employees in any given hotel.
The age old saying of “the customer is always right” is highly relevant in the tourism and hotel industries, both in the UK and on a global scale. In order for the hotel industry to be successful, and for objective customers to have a pleasant experience, the hotel organisation must have a customer relationship focused strategy. As I’ve covered during the course of this essay, globally recognised and respected standards—such as ISO 9001—provides an exceptional foundation in terms of delivering the tools necessary to create a high quality environment. If a strong, standardised and centralised system is in place within the hotel, and all employees are made aware of the importance of the aforementioned standards, then this in-turn would dramatically increase the probability that the hotel will be managed in a high quality manner. Furthermore, for large and small hotel organisations, the AA rating system is respected and useful; I believe that it should be a mandatory requirement for all hotels—that are situated within the UK—to enforce standardised criteria that is present within the AA documentation; again, this would increase the probability of a customer having a positive experience within the hotel.
According to VisitLondonMediaCentre.com (2009), London attracts approximately 14 million overseas visitors per year (the second most visited city in the world; a close second to Paris)—which incidentally is in decline from the previous years. London is by far and away the most popular city in the UK—from the perspective of tourism. With 14 million people visiting each year, the overwhelming majority of these individuals will stay in hotels during their visit. Therefore, the smaller hotel establishments must start to take quality management and customer perception seriously if they wish to have continuity in terms of financial success.
In conclusion, the customer perception of hotel quality is polarised. Opinion is divided because hotel standards / customer service throughout the UK is shockingly inconsistent. As I’ve stated on numerous occasions throughout this essay, and to reiterate once again, I firmly believe that there exists a comprehensive solution to this issue of high quality versus low quality. The UK government should enforce legislation for the mandatory requirement of a hotel standardisation process. Such as making it a fundamental requirement to undertake ISO 9001 certification as well as following the official AA grading system. The former may not be suitable for smaller establishments; however, a less comprehensive equivalent could easily be devised if necessary.
|DATE||EVIDENCE-TITLE||SOURCE||FULL REFERENCE||KEY RELEVANT POINTS|
|1||16 Jan 2011||Kate Simon: Those hotel charges that are just too much to bear||Independent||http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/kate-simon-those-hotel-charges-that-are-just-too-much-to-bear-2185595.html||Hotel pricing and service quality|
|2||24 Jan 2011|
|Hotel star system to lose official backing||Independent||http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/hotel-star-system-to-lose-official-backing-2192474.html||Official hotel rating system and standardisation|
|3||26 Jan 2011|
|Hotel fined heavily over food hygiene offences||County|
|4||Feb 7 2011|
|Middlesboro’ hotel kitchen closed over health fears||GazetteLive||http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/2011/02/07/middlesbrough-hotel-kitchen-closed-over-health-fears-84229-28127193/||Poor standards|
BBC.co.uk (2007) 2012’s ‘£3bn boost’ to UK tourism [Online]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/08/can_tourism_revive_the_uk_econ.html?page=7 (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
BBC.co.uk (2010) Can tourism revive the UK economy? [Online]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2010/08/can_tourism_revive_the_uk_econ.html?page=7 (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
BBC.co.uk (2009) Poor Service: Your Views [Online]. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7818552.stm (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
ISO.org (n.d.) FAQs on ISO 9001:2008 [Online]. Available from: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/management_standards/quality_management/iso_9001_2008/faqs_on_iso_9001.htm (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
Marriott.com (2009) Certificate [Online]. Available from: http://www.marriott.com/hotelwebsites/us/z/zrhcy/zrhcy_pdf/SQS_Certificate.pdf (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
Marriott.com (n.d.) The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. [Online]. Available from: http://www.marriott.com/corporateinfo/glance.mi#brand12 (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
RitzCarlton.com (n.d.) RitzCarlton London [Online]. Available from: http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/London/Default.htm (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
Telegraph.co.uk (2008) London failing to make grade for tourists [Online]. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/uk/londonandsoutheast/760696/London-hotels-are-failing-to-make-grade-for-tourists.html (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
Telegraph.co.uk (2008) Tourism minister says British hotels are overpriced and rush-hour trains ‘dreadful’ [Online]. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/2674767/Tourism-minister-says-British-hotels-are-overpriced-and-rush-hour-trains-dreadful.html (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
TheAA.com (n.d.) AA Hotel Recognition Scheme [Online]. Available from: http://www.theaa.com/travel_editorial/hotel_services_hotel_recognition_scheme.html (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
TheAA.com (n.d.) Quality Standards for AA Recognised Hotels [Online]. Available from: https://www.theaa.com/ (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
TourismAlliance.com (n.d.) Ken Robinson CBE Appointed as new Tourism Alliance Chairman [Online]. Available from: http://www.tourismalliance.com/downloads/New%20Chairman.pdf (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
UNWTO.org (2010) Recovery confirmed, but growth remains uneven [Online]. Available from: http://www.unwto.org/ (Accessed: 06 February 2010).
VisitLondonMediaCentre.com (2009) LONDON OVERSEAS VISITS 2009 [Online]. Available from: http://www.visitlondonmediacentre.com/images/uploads/London_-_Overseas_Visits_2009_-_Factsheet.pdf (Accessed: 06 February 2010).