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World-Class Service

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In the discussion - World-Class Service - by W. Gerald Glover, Associate Professor, Restaurant, Hotel and Resort Management at Appalachian State University and Germaine W. Shames, Hilton International, New York, Glover and Shames initially state: “Providing world-class service to today's traveler may be the key for hospitality managers in the current competitive market. Although an ideal, this type of service provides a mandate for culturally aware managers. The authors provide insight into several areas of cultures in collision.”

Up to the time this essay is written, the authors point to a less-than-ideal level of service as being the standard in the hospitality industry and experience. “Let's face it - if we're ever to resurrect service, it will not be by going back to anything,” Glover and Shames exclaim. “Whatever it was we did back then has contributed to the dilemma in which we find ourselves today, handicapped by a reactive service culture in an age that calls for adaptiveness and global strategies,” the authors fortify that thought.

In amplifying the concept of world-class service Glover and Shames elaborate: “World-class service is an ideal. Proactive and adaptive, world-class service feels equally right to the North American dignitary occupying the Presidential Suite, and the Japanese tourist staying in a standard room in the same hotel.”

To bracket that model the authors offer: “At a minimum, it is service perceived by each customer as appropriate and adequate. At its best, it may also make the customer feel at home, among friends, or pampered. Finally, it is service as if culture matters,” Glover and Shames expand and capture the rule of world-class service.

Glover and Shames consider the link between cultures and service an imperative one. They say it is a principle lost on most hospitality managers. “Most [managers] have received service management education in the people are people school that teaches us to disregard cultural differences and assume that everyone we manage or serve is pretty much like ourselves,” say Glover and Shames. “Is it any wonder that we persist in setting service standards, marketing services, and managing service staff not only as if culture didn't matter, but as if it didn't exist?!”

To offer legitimacy to their effort Glover and Shames present the case of the Sun and Sea Hotel, a 500-room first class hotel located on the outskirts of the capital city of a small Caribbean island nation. It is a bit difficult to tell whether this is a dramatization or a reality. It does, however, serve to illustrate their point in regard to management’s cognizance, or lack thereof, of culture when it comes to cordial service and guest satisfaction.

Even more apropos is the tale of the Palace Hotel, “…one of the grande dames of hospitality constructed in the boom years of the 1920s in a mid-sized Midwestern city in the United States.” The authors relate what transpired during its takeover in mid-1980 by a U.S.-based international hotel corporation. The story makes for an interesting and informative case study.