--- A Critical Observation ---
The star hotels in India have been a curiosity and an attraction for the common people. The disposable income of the middle income group has increased over the years. They too have started visiting the star hotels and staying there for holidays. The affluent society is more fascinated towards the star hotels for their regular social functions and entertainments. The middle income group have started travelling in air frequently which resulted in the growth of the star hotels in different cities in India. The customers/guests, who stay in these star hotels regularly, though liked the infrastructure and the facilities are not thoroughly aware of the criteria/standards which are prescribed for the accreditation of such stars Hotels. It is pertinent to mention that these star hotels charge a higher price for the products and the services that they offer to the guests/Costumers in comparison to the ordinary hotels. The prices for everything in star hotels are beyond the reach of the common man in our quantity society, still the star hotels are now growing all over the country in a rapid pace. The star hotels too are doing good business.
Obtaining the star accreditation for a hotel is the process of evaluation by an authorised Committee. The committee evaluates the existing infrastructures and facilities on a given day against the guidelines and the checklists issued by the Government. The committee consists of seven members from the tourism relevant fields. Though the hotel star classification is a voluntary scheme, many hotels prefer the star Tag from the government HRACC committee as an Indicator of the classified standard in India. But it is a fact that the star tag accreditation only focuses on the infrastructures and facilities, not on the services provided in the hotels. Hence the regular hotel goers have many complaints regarding the services provided in the classified star hotels in India. It is a known and common fact that maximum complains in hotels are recorded concerning to the services. Most importantly the services are carried out by the human beings.
Understanding the evaluation of hospitality services
The Hospitality/hotel industry is perhaps the brightest example of the service industry. Food and beverage is the core of the service area in a hospitality unit and food & beverage department employs majority of the manpower in the hotel and provides the majority of the services to its customers. The manpower works 24/7 in a hotel. The service provider is expected to be in its hygienic grooming, presentable posture & smile while delivering the services which is probably a challenging act.
Several efforts have been made to evaluate the service quality in the hospitality industry. But a little has been achieved in finding a correct evaluating method of the hospitality services. One of the notable models to measure the service quality in general is servqual. This model focuses mainly on five dimensions such as Tangibility, Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance and Empathy. Few of these factors can be applied selectively and occasionally to the hospitality services.
I feel few of the factors can be considered partially & occasionally to evaluate the quality of the Food & Beverage services and the House keeping services in the hospitality sector or the hotels specifically.
Responsiveness — Intangibility
• The common customer complaints are the lukewarm reception that they receive in the front office as they enter the hotel lobby. In some instances, the front office people do not provide adequate information regarding the rooms, other functions/meeting going in the hotel. Sometimes the receptionists respond late &do not pick up the telephones.
Evaluation of the warmth in hotel reception is very complex
Evaluation of the customer’s mind-set is very complex
• In some occasions the customers in the restaurants do not receive warm greetings by the hostess. This creates unusual impression in the guest’s mind. Attending quickly to the guests inside the restaurant by the waiters creates a positive impression on the guest’s mind. Quick and efficient food service creates a satisfying and tangible feeling within the guests. Further the timely and quick clearance of the used crockery and cutleries from the guest’s table creates appositive impression in guest’s mind. The appropriate and relevant communications with the guests during the food service creates a sense of comfort among the guests.
• Room service of food & beverage has always been in the complaint list of many hotel customers. Especially the timely service with right food temperature is the key.
Evaluation of (prompt & efficient food service) is complex
Evaluation of (quick clearance of the used crockery) is complex
Evaluation of (foodservice temperature) is complex.
• The House keeping services such as clean, hygienic and odourless linens in bedroom affects the guest’s mind for the evaluation process.
• The cleanliness and the odour in the guest’s bathroom also affects the guest’s mind for the evaluation.
Reliability – Assurance (Intangibility)
• The Reliability of the hospitality services is based on the competency and responsibility. The reliability includes factors like the timely food services and clearance of used crockery in restaurant & room standardised recipes, specified brand of crockery and cutlery, safe & hygienic food.
• The Physical safety of the guests within the premises.
It is observed further that similar cases emerge while one tries to evaluate and grade the house keeping services in a hotel. The intangible aspects of the house keeping services make it difficult& complex to grade. While we think about, grading the Hospitality services of the classified star hotels in India, I encounter few issues which need to be addressed in favour of the customers. The issues are mainly as below,
• The 5star hotels of each brand has a specified SOP in food and beverage services and in housekeeping services while the standalone 5 star hotels have their own SOP in services. The training module for the hospitality services vary from brand to brand.
• The quality of manpower in hospitality services vary from brand to brand and the services vary too in the same star category. The amount of funds invested in quality service training too makes the differences.
• Majority of the star hotels too are understaffed, which lead to dilution in quality hospitality services.
• The attrition and the untrained manpower too cause the substandard hospitality services in the star hotels.
Under such circumstances, I feel it will be a challenge in evaluating the hospitality services in the star hotels and grading them as per their allotted star category. I would However I would invite suggestions from the Hospitality service brains to work on this direction so that the confusion and complexity regarding, grading of the hospitality services in the star hotels can be sorted out.
Dr. Jagat Mangaraj