HOS302 – Hospitality Management

HOS302 – Hospitality management

Topic: Does the ‘host’ have a right to put pressure on a guest to be a ‘good guest’?

The notion of host and guest relationship can easily draw into different implications. It can be host and guest of a free stay on a stormy day, friends and family in a dinner party, hotels and travellers or host nations and visitors in such mega-events as Olympic Games or World Cup. Academically, these types of relationship can be summarized into three domain models developed by Lashley (2008) including social/cultural, private/domestic and commercial hospitality. In each domain, there are expectations about hospitality, which define essential etiquettes of hosts to guests as well as behaviours of guests when being hosted. However, as not all the guests are well-aware of gracious courtesy to be a good guest, the host may need to be pro-active to insert the proper amount of pressure to make sure guests having nice presence in their houses. The host has proper rights to make an influence on a guest to make them “a good guest” in all domains, especially private and social ones.

A good guest is the one who embraces respect, courtesy in any context of the host-guest relationship. Though there must be so many more characteristics of a good guest, respectful and gracious manners are elementary features. In the social-cultural domain of Lashley (2008) where hospitality is considered hospitable treatments of hosts to provide strangers food, drink and accommodation mostly due to cultural ethic and social status forces, it is essential obligations on guests to behave thankfully, make the hosts feel safe about their presence and not over-exploit hosts’ welcome. Also, in the private hospitality, a good guest should courteously understand hidden rules of hospitality returns. They can make contributions to the host in the form of wine, flowers or food (Thio 2005, Page and Connell 2006, Nameghi 2013). The guest who shows up for dinner without a present could be judged as being disrespectful and greedy. A thoughtful guest will mind social norms when arriving at a party or spending a night in other places. Yet, in the commercial domain where guests’ satisfaction is of the top priority, kind etiquettes such as showing thankfulness for frontline staffs or any outstanding services constitute a great guest. All these genial manners more or less come from the guests themselves but can absolutely be triggered and navigated by the host’s influence.

The host carries a significant impact on shaping the guest’s behaviours and insert certain strains on a guest, especially in the social and private domain where the host is a powerful rule-maker. These pressures can exist in form of expressions about cultural and religious differences, gender roles, and power relations, which can be informed in advance or acknowledged during the guest experience. Since a social-cultural hospitality is initiated by the supply side of the host’s willingness to welcome strangers (Thio 2005), hosts can issue appropriate disciplines, house rules or even the superiority of social status to keep the guest pay more respectful attention. In Korean culture, for examples, the status of guests and hosts decides specific roles to play at dinner time. The young are often in charge of setting the table, the older are more subjected to payment. Additionally, considering domestic hospitality with reciprocity features, the pressure that the host can make to their guest is the expectation of the same hospitality performance such as a gift or future support on other occasions. This is less of a financial burden than a hospitality reimbursement when receiving the comfortable provisions from the host. In this private model of host and guest relationship, the host intentionally or unintentionally calls on the pro-active understanding of guests, make them aware of social norms as well as respectful behaviours to avoid taboos or improper actions. Such kind pressure as advanced reminders, notes…are often employed to prevent misunderstandings. In cases of poor behaviours, the senior host has powerful right to make complaints, even in worse scenario, request the guest to move out (Lynch, McIntosh, and Tucker 2009). The host plays an important role in navigating a courteous manner among guests.

However, the same pressure from hosts does not apply to guests in the commercial domain – which often refers to the hotel, food and beverage business. That is because commercial hospitality is demand-led or in other words, the willingness of the guest to use the service decide the relationship (Page and Connell 2020, Talbott 2006, Andrews 2000). The guests always receive superior attentions and their satisfactory experience is priorities of services staffs, therefore, it is more challenging to apply obligations of becoming a good guest according to a specific host’s standard. For instance, it is not a must for the guest to bring a gift or follow a defined dress-code when having a dinner at a restaurant. They can still express respects, feel thankful for excellent services, but these are not compulsory no matter how old the waiter is or which religion he follows. The host in commercial domain cannot ask for a good guest by giving such pressure as generation gap or gender roles.

From the evidence discussed, it is quite clear that hosts have reasonable rights to put pressure on guests to make them keep well manners, but more in a social and private relationship. Eventually, it is vital to acquire certain understanding of the context they are in to make proper communication. Global integration results in positive changes with more educated lifestyle and guests know that they are under win-win benefits from their relationship to hosts. Strains from the host seem to be essential to ensure a good guest but not always all the time needed.

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