Gone are the days of the adages like “behave like a Roman when you are in Rome,” and instead it is now just the opposite: the modern hosts are expected to tune with the cultures of the guests. With increasing state of globalization, the hospitality sector is now brimming with huge possibilities and the prime tool to realize them is cultural competency. However, there is more than it meets the eye in that little phrase, and thus this study goes on to explore the elements associated with the issue of cultural competency with seven clear sections like below: 1.
Global situation of hospitality sector 2. UK situation of Hospitality sector 3. Researchers’ views on cross-cultural competency 4. Common methods of training 5. Training Models 6. Views of the HRM about it; 7. Intrinsic facets of cultural competency. 2. 1. Global Scene of Hospitality and Travel Sector While the hospitality sector of UK is now bubbling with possibilities, the question of getting equipped to effectively handle such promising future is getting bigger than ever. Since this sector has a multicultural market segment, it needs culturally competent personnel to its various wings.
The globalization process and the digital revolution have already raised increased interaction between continents and thus the hospitality sector of UK has enough reasons to be optimistic as UK with its innumerable heritage sites, natural beauties, cuisines and cultures is already a top drawer for the tourists. All it needs now is to have a culturally competent workforce to exploit the opportunity before it. Cultural competency now seems like a universal passport for any job across the globe, and is an essential qualification in the huge global hospitality sector, which is arguably the world’s largest industry.
According to the observation of The World Travel and Tourism Council, the possible contribution of hospitality and travel industry to the world economy would stand around $9. 3 trillion by 2011 (World, 2003). This alone underpins the necessity of effectively managing these sectors that would always function among multicultural ambience. These sectors together form the largest industry of the world, where they are already responsible for 200 million jobs and above 10% of global GDP.
Globalisation process too has highly contributed to this happening state in these sectors, where it is projected that these industries would require 250 million people within the next decade, spelling a growth rate around 4. 6% (World, 2003). Therefore, it is not hard to imagine that there would be all-possible cross-cultural interaction in these sectors, and it is the effective management of such interactions would be the key for the companies in these sectors, and for that matter they need culturally competent workforce to run flawless cross-cultural interactions with people from all cultures (Bhawuk, 2001).
The efficacy of cross-cultural competency in augmenting business or inter-country or inter-cultural relationship has long been recognized by the researchers who prescribed for implementing cross-cultural training even in the 1960s (Hodgetts, Luthans & Doh, 2006), when it was the dawn of the multinational ventures for the companies. These companies immediately realized the benefit of it and accordingly started training their middle and upper-level managers before deputing them to foreign countries (Cushner & Brislin, 1996).
Thus the tangible attempts to avoid culture-clash in business environment started shaping from then, and in no time cultural competency looked like an essential tool for raising business prospects both in the native land or on foreign soil. At that time, the companies in the hospitality and travel sector too followed that policy of training their middle and upper-level managers with multicultural skills, but that venture soon proved inadequate, since they companies discovered that it is the front-line workers who need this training the most, since they are the ones who interact more with foreign customers (Ferraro, 2006).
This observation brought forth the necessity of making the front-line staff of these sectors culturally competent, who had little or no education to effectively manage cross-cultural situations. The assembly line of front-end workers in hospitality and travel sector is perhaps the largest among all other sectors, where low wage workers like front-desk clerks, caretakers, watchman, bellman, waiters, drivers, customer care officials, washer man and many others have to interact more with customers belonging to various cultures than their managers.
This state of affairs clearly pointed at the fact that there would always be the risk of culture-clash between the employees and the clients and such a clash would spell in loss of both current and future internal businesses in more than one area, since hospitality sector includes various services, ranging from food, beverage, sightseeing tours, accommodation, gaming and other entertainment, healthcare and more. Thus the significance of acquiring a culturally competent workforce amid the rise of hospitality industry with the rise of globalization was deeply felt by the companies even in 1960s.
2. 2. UK Hospitality Industry The debate on creating an international curriculum of business and management education is still on (Stone, 2006; Dahl, 2003; De Vita & Case, 2003; Haigh, 2002) and management education in the hospitality and tourism industry is not staying away from it (Charlesworth, 2007; Hearn et al. , 2007; Black, 2004; Ledwith & Seymour, 2001; Wijesinghe & Davies, 2001; Maxwell et al. , 2001), but unfortunately, it is yet to get momentum in UK, though its demand can be identified with the rising number of foreign students (Maxwell et al.
,2000; Haigh, 2002; 2003; Jackson, 2003) in the UK universities. Since hospitality and tourism sector is the largest industry in the world, this demand seems justified (Da Vita & Case, 2003; Haigh, 2002; Maxwell et al. , 2001). However, the hope is still there as the demand in this sector in UK is increasing. According to the study, UK hospitality sector has expanded itself in the last five years and created many job opportunities for the young graduates and currently it is running short of skilled staff (Hospitality, 2009).
There are plenty of opportunities in various establishments in this sector under various capacities. A brief list of the same would further explain the situation: Jobs available in the hospitality sector of UK 1. Restaurants: these establishments have opportunities ranging from managerial cadre to chef, with demands for business managers, finance managers or operational staff in the larger restaurant chains. 2. Pubs, Bars and Clubs: Job opportunities in these places include licensed retailing, management positions, promotional programmes or event management.
3. Hotels: Offer managerial positions, event managers, restaurant and bar-workers, operational staff like finance managers, human resource managers or marketing mangers and staff. 4. Catering: Contract jobs like regular professional food services to hospitals, schools, and corporate houses or on special occasions. 5. Corporate Event Management: These are big events for the companies that usually take place in big hotels that require many kinds of contract jobs (Hospitality 2009).
The jobs are varied in nature in the above establishments, and so are the salaries. However, according to an estimate, a trainee hotel manager can earn ? 16,000 to ? 19000, while salaries in event management segment range from ? 13,000 to ? 21,000 (Hospitality, 2009). And the sector is big too. According to British Hospitality Association (2009), the hospitality sector of UK contains around 127,000 types of business that run by a workforce of 1. 6 million people.
The number of establishments too is high – it has around 22,000 hotels and guest houses, besides around 16,000 bed and breakfasts. Restaurants alone have 500,000 staff including full-time and part-time professionals. Contract catering and hospitality services hold a major share of the sector (19%). Therefore, the huge size of the hospitality sector in UK clearly points at the significance of having culturally competent workforce, as this sector deals with foreigners all over the world, belonging to various cultures and lifestyle habits.
Not only that, if the future trends as observed by BHA (2009) has anything to go by, cultural competency might become an official requirement for all who are working in this industry, or who aspires to join here. Keeping an eye to the increasing state of hospitality sector worldwide, the opportunity of bagging coveted jobs abroad has also become a point of concern to the aspiring youths and from that perspective too, the demand for the professionally trained individuals is sure to rise in the coming decade