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Using job competencies for positive hiring outcomes in the hospitality industry

The goal of this edited article is to showcase, demonstrate, and illustrate the human resources (HR) function within the greater context of hospitality and tourism marketing. It is important to note that HR strengths and capabilities can be a strong factor in the performance of a culture that, in turn, adds greatly to marketing strength and profitability of a hospitality organization. While communication, internal guest focus, leadership, empowerment, and a host of other concepts add to the strength of a culture, hiring right is a “must have” in order for organizations to match internal guest success with their desired external guest satisfaction levels. Those who are adequately matched with competencies, either inherent traits or learned protocols, will help lead our industry venues to be more productive and profitable while leading its employees toward future careers with higher levels of satisfaction.         
It is the goal of this article to briefly examine and explore the job competency dimension as it relates to HR practices within the hospitality industry. The author incorporates the concept of job competencies into a possible paradigm which will help lead today’s hospitality operations toward a more stable and effective performance level. By using job competencies as effective tools in one’s HR cache, it is the hope that employees will offer higher levels of quality of work while experience higher quality levels of work. Strong cultures with happy staff members lead to stronger performance on the balance sheets. Effective HR managers not only have happy employees, they have happy owners and investors. As an HR manager, tactics and procedures surrounding the concept of job competencies need to be a part of your arsenal.         

Hospitality management education at the college level: a brief history       
Hospitality is defined as “hospitable treatment, reception, or disposition” by The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2003, p. 601). However, hospitality management is the comprehensive term for the business management disciplines which include the services to travelers, visitors, and even local residents (Walker, 1999, 2004). It is a focus on hospitality management to which this text is dedicated, and specifically, to HR functions and practices within the hospitality industry. Those employed in HR capacities are dedicated to the hiring, training, development, and growth of hospitality employees within organizations of all types and sizes. The number of positions, titles, and designations within the vast hospitality industry seems limitless. One need only consider the various segments within the overall hospitality industry to understand the challenges facing HR individuals today. A non-inclusive listing of these segments would include such areas as airline, cruise line, destination marketing, theme park, food service, lodging, event planning, and vacation ownership. Each area is a large “industry” within its own right. One shall quite easily realize the need for an ongoing cadre of trained professionals in the hospitality industry.       
Indeed, by the year 2005, 7.5 million jobs were directly generated by the travel industry in the United States alone and the payroll for those directly employed in the travel industry was over $170 billion (Travel Industry Association of America, 2006). The high number of employees has led to the need for college-level training of the workforce. Although “the concept of hospitality is as old as civilization itself” (Walker, 1999, p. 4), the offering of a hospitality management degree at the college level is much more recent. The first program was offered by Cornell University in 1922 (Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, 2007). Thereafter, programs appeared at Purdue University in 1926, Michigan State University in 1927, and The Pennsylvania State University in 1937 (Guide to College Programs, 2004).

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