Monday, October 24, 2011

Media Monday - Book Reviews

One of my favorite parts of being an academic is getting to read the work of other people within the field.  In the past year I have reviewed some 18 academic papers to date as well as getting to review books as well.  Yesterday, one of my favorite book reviews was published in Annals of Tourism Research.

Kevin D. O’Gorman. Goodfellow Publishers Limited <> 2010, xiii +223 pp (figures, pictures, index, and references) $46.00 Pbk. ISBN 978-1-906884-08-6
Wayne William Smith

College of Charleston, USA
Assigned 16 May 2011. Submitted 6 June 2011. Accepted 15 June 2011.. Available online 17 October 2011.

This text is an enjoyable read and should be required for any individual doing a PhD in the field. The Origins of Hospitality and Tourism takes the reader through the beginning of this humble sector so that the reader can understand why it is formed as it is today. The text is well written, beautifully researched, and makes a contribution as being the first book that examines the origins of hospitality and tourism. Beyond its academic contribution, this text presents a commentary that may have been unintended by the author but is important nonetheless. Lately, the hospitality industry has been centered on being just that, an industry. Those in the industry talk about customer or guest services and how to balance services with profitability. Industry managers are constantly looking for a competitive advantage by implementing new marketing messages, offering new packages and services at a value rate. This has turned the industry into one of the most complicated in terms of revenue and channel management. The sector has become so high tech that practitioners risk forgetting the fundamental core: to be a good host for out guests. The text serves as a reminder of what the core really is and, in that lesson, comes the collection’s real contribution.
The reminder of origins is first put into perspective when the author provides a beautiful summary of how the words “host” and “guest” have evolved to their contemporary meaning in English. This discussion of how the terms evolved highlights the importance of host-guest relations and of the duty people traditionally owe to those who come to visit. It one reads carefully, one can see where the core of guest services arose and perhaps how the field has gone astray over the past decade or so. This work highlights the need for more research into the origins of guest services that could perhaps lead to new insights into what the core experience should contain and what should be the emphasis in terms of guest services. As an aside, beyond the lessons for customer or guest services, there are also nice tourism development lessons to be learnt from as well. The graph displaying the cluster of commercial establishments in the center of Pompeii would service today as an excellent example of destination design and service clustering (perhaps, though, without the lumpanar (brothel)).

Overall, it was stated at the beginning that this text should be a required reading for any PhD in the field. Beyond graduate students, this text should be a must-read for industry managers. The lessons contained within the text are beyond that of a series of facts and fascinating stories (of which there are plenty) but rather addresses the core of what perhaps the industry should be about, hospitality. While no one is now likely to have a servant take care of a guest’s horse and spear upon arrival, staff still often help the guest from his or her car and assist with luggage. The core remains the same and perhaps there are lessons in that.

1 comment:

  1. I's all an industry any more. What about the fact that there should be some consideration to the 'consumer'...even in tourism.

    Well done.

    Thanks for popping by to visit with me over the weekend. Today's post is:

    Macro Halloween Candle Holder...Eerie!!