Hospitality is the extension of home like services to persons other than of one’s household or immediate relative. Hospitality involves treating strangers and guests to warm welcome into strangers’ homes. Hospitality brings people who rarely know each other together. Hospitality is traced back to as early as human existence is known. The most intelligent of human evolution, the homo sapient was identified as indicating hospitality traits. The seventeenth century in the British culture had evidence of hospitality traits, (O’Connor, 2005).
The face of hospitality though has changed over the centuries to what it is today. The emphasis of persons being hospitable towards fellow people has been relaxed and only a few institutions are left to practice it. Hospitality today is not much to be practiced by everyone but by a few who are deemed to naturally possess this quality as a gift. For there to be an in depth understanding of what is entailed in hospitality, a review of the ancient definition’s and motive of hospitality is necessary.
This will help us determine whether the principles on which hospitality was founded have changed over time.
Among the Greeks, hospitality was viewed as a sacred activity to honor their gods and thus the whole society was obliged to be hospitable (O’Gorman, 2005). Failure to extend hospitable attitudes towards guests or strangers invited the wrath of the supernatural. Greek and Roman Societies Hospitality was thought of as transferable from generation to generation. The virtue was not only a personal choice but was also applied in public affairs. Different types of guests were received at treated variously according to their status, (O’Gorman, 2005).
Traders were received differently from cultural visitors. Hospitality was exercised even at national level where state or city guests were received with honour and dignity. Commercial hospitality was rare in the early Greek civilization. In the Roman culture, hospitality was expected to be an exercise of all pennons and it was more pronounced in the Greek society. Public hospitality was exercised by Rome and other countries. Hospitality is traceable even in religious writings like the Bible. Some fundamental principles are evident from the studies of early hospitality. Underlying Principles
Hospitality was viewed as necessary for human existence. Because no person was immune to requiring hospitality services at some time, there was an obligation for all to be hospitable. Hospitality established and maintained relationships which cultivated togetherness. Hospitality was further viewed as an honorable tradition deserving passing from one generation to another. Being hospitable was to be practiced all through irrespective of changes in the world. Hospitality by then was stratified in that particular groups of person were accorded different treatment according to their social standing.
The extent of the different groups of guests required that laws be established to govern this. This indicates that hospitality was highly valued in these early societies. There was an unwritten law that hospitality, once extended to a person, one had to respond by extending it to others. This ensured its continuity. In the ancient set up also, hospitality was used to gain honour for persons exercising it. The more a person is involved with receiving guests and strangers into their households, the more respected they became in the society.
Emphasis was laid on domestic hospitality in which guests were welcomed in households. Hospitality Today The face of hospitality has evidently changed today. The society lays little emphasis in reception of visitors or strangers at large. Domestic hospitality today is a rare phenomenon. Today’s society treats strangers with suspicion and it therefore becomes harder for people to extend hospitality. With the growing security concerns, strangers are more likely to be shunned in the suspicion that they have malicious intentions.
This is more so for the developed countries where homes are fenced to lock out intruders and sensors installed to man the compound. Commercialization The society today has commercialized hospitality services to the extent that it has lost its meaning. Hospitality is exercised only when the host stands to gain financially from the guest. The building of luxurious hotels across the world emphasizes this. Rarely would a sizeable town lack accommodation facilities for guests or people in transit. Without any gain from hosting these people, such hospitality centers would be inexistent.
The commercialization of hospitality has further sidelined those needing the services from receiving them. Before a guest is booked into these hotels it has to be ascertained that they are able to pay accommodation fees. Guests are also required to produce many documents to identify themselves and at times, they are required to state their motives. Some guests are turned away if the hosts doubt them. The personalized sympathetic contact between a host and guest has been lost long the way (Dittmer, 1997). Suspicion Today also extension of kindness is raise suspicion.
When persons become so hospitable even in the commercial facilities, the guest realizes that their hosts must be after favours. There are standard ways of showing hospitality in the commercial facilities and all workers and obliged to follow them. But when they do more than is required, guests become wary. This is in contrast with the traditional view where acts of hospitality were interpreted as well intended. Public Hospitality Public hospitality as exercised in the past was to build relationships between cities or states.
The representatives of states were sent to foreign nations to foster better relations. Such persons were supposed to be received well in alien land. Failure to receive them with dignity and respect was regarded as abuse to their native lands. Today this principle is largely applied. Countries send their representatives to foreign lands to build friendships and also negotiate deals. These representatives are received in well built guest houses set apart for this very purpose. Reception of these people with great dignity is interpreted as friendliness towards countries (Hobbs, 2001).
In businesses, there are established hospitality dockets which accord certain levels of treatment to their guests. A cup of tea is offered and some companies offer more. This is an extension of the past trends of building relationships thorough hospitality. A deviation from past hospitality trends lies in today’s detachment of the virtue with religion. In the past, hospitality was largely viewed as a religious obligation. With the developments in the science world, religious issues have progressively lost much meaning to some people.
This removes personal obligation on individuals to be hospitable. It shows the extent to which modern society has abandoned collective responsibility to care for strangers leaving it in the hands of the commercial institutions (Hobbs, 2001). Hospitality is a virtue that every reason should exercise. The emphasis should not be resented to commercial facilities along but just as it was the practice traditionally, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure guests and strangers are comfortable. The society today should redefine hospitality to what it used to be.
Dittmer, P. (1997) Early Development of the Hospitality Industry. Dimensions of the Hospitality Industry, New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. , pp. 33-77. O’Gorman, K (2005) Modern Hospitality: Lessons from the Past. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 12 (2), pp. 141-151. Hobbs, T (2001) Hospitality in the First Testament and the ‘Teleological Fallacy’’. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 26, (1), pp. 3-30. O’Connor, D (2005) Towards a new interpretation of hospitality. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 17, (3), pp. 267-271.