The respect from host to guest has been over emphasized in various way by slogans like:
“Guest is always right, completely right” Marks & Spencer
“Live like a King” Drawbridge Inn
“Everything. Right where you need it” Hilton Garden Inn
“Your success is our highest calling” Marriott
“The Best Value Under the Sun” Days Inn
The role of the guest has changed over time from a humble and grateful visitor to a demanding consumer.
Most guests are still today wonderful and there are many encouraging stories from all parts of the world including all nations, races and cultures of people that are wonderful guests who have totally embraced the true meaning of their roles in the symbiosis of hospitality.
“While this isn’t a rule, hotels often chose to compensate guests rather than suffer the wrath of a bad review online, or worse, to the press! Digging your heels in about an issue -- everything form overcooked food to the state of the bathroom -- often turns into a standoff a guest is likely to win.” 
There is a growing number of complaints from guests, due to encouragement like the quote above advising guests about their entitlements. There is a fine line between what is a demanding guest and unwarranted claims from guests with the intention to gain more for free.
Some may argue that this is due to the factor of payment, when we moved from “expect to pay” to “have to pay” the guests lost their motivation to treat hosts respectfully. This is of course true to some extent as the balance has been shaken.
The history of human behavior in hospitality
How can we return the emphasis of mutual respect into the hospitality culture?
Back in the original set up of hospitality there were host and guest, there were rarely others in-between. Of course, there was the host’s wife (not to be underestimated) who ensured the bed was made up and the food was prepared.
When travelling became more regular, the concept of taverns and inns was established in the 15th century Europe with focus on food service. The staffing concept took more formalized levels in the 16-17th centuries However, the welcoming1 and the fare-welling2 of guests were still very much up to the host/owner of the establishment.
In Portuguese, there are 16 different ways to say Thank you = obridagado as it is very important to thank other people when they do something for you, even if they are just doing their job. "Why are you thanking him, he's just doing his job!" - well, if you don't, you'll be considered rude and may expect a degradation of that person's service in the future, says novelist João Rosa.
I welcome you who has a “desire to come” and I wish you a “good journey as you go on with your journey”. In response, the guests leave with a thank you3. As in, I will remember what you did and as per the old myths reciprocate when the time comes to a fellow human being.
This implies that each and every one of us is part of hospitality and with Airbnb concept developed, in principle all of us who wishes can become once again a host. What is interesting with Airbnb is that they have added the rating of the guests, which is truly returning some value to the mutual beneficial respectful relation between the two parties; either party can deny the relation.
The creation of the first luxury city hotels
During the 19th century the first high-end luxury hotels were established in large cities: The Cosmopolitan Hotel, New York in 1845, the Hotel D’Angleterre, Copenhagen - in 1875, followed by the famous Savoy, London - in 1889.
With the introduction of full service luxury hotels came the hierarchy/ chef de rank in the industry as we know it today. Maybe not to anyone’s surprise the structure in hotels has not changed much since then. Of course, few, if any hotels today have “elevator boys” riding up and down in the elevator with the guests. However, many other positions have remained to define luxury service such as floor butlers and guest service managers, the latter of which I have never come to understand even after spent 13 years in high-end hotels – should not all employees be focused on guest service or is this an indication for all in the hotel to know that this person is better at service than anyone else?
With the introduction of the ranks came what I refer to as the “blame game” towards the lowest possible rank in the hotel.
The parody “Fawlty Towers” (from 1975-1979) is jokingly showing us how poor hotel managers and inn owners are allowing themselves to act out all their emotions on the lowest employee in the establishment. In Fawlty Tower this is Emmanuel, the waiter. Emmanuel is portrayed as incompetent and any training is useless as he will not get it right no matter what he does.
Studying Fawlty Tower from a hotel managerial prospective, the root cause of the issues predominantly has little to do with Emmanuel, but more with the owner and manager, Basel. Social science has shown in various studies that people accept work at a company for the job itself, but mostly leave because of their immediate manager. Poor Emanuel never saw his chance of moving to a better place. Maybe he would not leave anyway, if Fawlty Towers were a real place, as so many employees do not see the possibilities of a better treatment elsewhere and therefore remain under terrible bosses.
Over the past 4 years, I have spent significant time reflecting on managerial responsibility impact on the guest service output performed by guest contact employees (i.e. almost all employees in a hotel).
Specifically, I wonder about the consequences of this very hierarchical structure and what happens to people as they move up this structure. Key questions like “Who are the most important people in a hotel?”, “Where is the daily focus?”, “How could the system be improved to ensure the best interaction be handled between hotel and guests?” and “Why are we so seniority focused rather than guest focused?” has been a great part of my analysis.
In this book, I will share some thoughts and ideas around the questions above and give you an insight into how a hotel build on the concept of “Happiness at work” could improve the happiness for employees, guests and owners alike and in that order.
Are you ready to change your view on hospitality and question your basic understanding of how a hotel should operate.
Let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share when my book will be coming out.
My passions are managing and improving the results of hotels through employee centered processes. My motto: "Put your employees first and the rest will follow. Don't just say it - show it through the actions that you take".