What defines the 'ideal' hospitality employee? A college town case

Abel Duarte Alonso, Edith Cowan University
Martin A. O'Neill

This article was originally published as: Alonso, A. D., & O'Neill, M. (2011). What defines the 'ideal' hospitality employee? A college town case. International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Administration, 12(1), 73-93. Original article available here


Many businesses in college towns not only see opportunities to cater for local students and staff, but they also seriously consider the student population as a recruiting pool. The ability to attract, train, and retain staff from this potential labor pool is one of the many challenges small- to medium-sized hospitality enterprises (SMHE) face, raising a fundamental question: what attributes, if any, do small hospitality operators look for when they go about recruiting new employees in a college town? The findings from interviews conducted among operators of 21 SMHE reveal that attitudinal characteristics of prospective employees form a critical component, especially based on work ethic, punctuality, responsibility, and accountability. However, some of these basic attributes increasingly appear to be in short supply. As a result, hospitality operations may be at the losing end, as lack of such basic employee skills may have a negative domino effect on customer service, harmony of the working environment, and overall efficiency and effectiveness in pursuing business goals. In an industry notorious for high employee turnover and low wages it is in the best interest of business operators and the industry to find ways to minimize what seem to be perennial problems. In this regard, the study offers some recommendations for industry stakeholders


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