Quality — when the company makes the customer returned rather than the product.
In this study, I would like to highlight the problem of quality of service in the hospitality industry of Russia, to identify conditions of the situation on the market, the basic indicators and make recommendations for building a system as an integral part of quality management in the enterprise.
Keywords: hospitality and tourism industry, quality of service management, customer satisfaction.
The fundamental definition that was proposed by George Hegel in the Encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences states: “Quality is a direct definite characteristic absolutely identical to the being...”; “Quality makes every thing exist as it actually is in reality and after loosing this quality it is no longer what it actually is”. In other words, the quality is an objective sum of characteristics and peculiarities of a service which defines them as they actually are and distinguishes them from others.
The sphere of tourism and hotels is a developing direction in the Russian economic system. Nowadays more and more often we use such notions as quality, reliability, competitive capacity and safety of hotel services. We speak about the necessity of voluntary hotel certification, we demand to respect the Law of Consumer Protection. It proves that there have been important changes in an attitude to the quality from both customers and manufactures as well. The quality is a political, economic and moral category. That's exactly the quality that is considered to be a significant requirement for a stable national economic development, for improvement of the hospitality and tourism industry in the Russian Federation.
The high level of quality has become one of the most important competitive advantages. But being capable to compete doesn't mean to provide items or services of the most expensive brands. The quality level has to be affordable for wide population sections. All accommodation categories have to be safe, comfortable and hospitable. Along with that a stable and continuous improvement of quality started being treated as a long-term development strategy of enterprises for further stable success.
In order to provide a quality there have to be not only appropriate material resources and motivated, experienced staff, but an efficient quality management as well. It's impossible to expect that the quality would be provided in a stable way without introduction of a quality control system responding to a nowadays development level of enterprise.
Preparation of qualified managers is supposed to be based on studying and obtaining of modern methods ameliorating quality control of products and services, studying of current experience, processes and management systems.
Economic reforms have caused not only positive results, but also there appeared some negative points. The reformed mentioned above included the reconstruction of management system. As a result, commercial associations and trades were abolished, in addition, there was a liquidation of departments that had been dealing with quality control of goods and services in our country. Unfairly, a great experience in a sphere of quality control gathered by retail enterprises, was not taken into a consideration.
After an overgrowth of goods and services on the market, a development of market society, its well-being and purchasing capacity of the nation, there have been noticed an urgent necessity to attract customers not only by proposing them goods in demand, but also providing them with basic services that would contribute to an increase of the competitive capacity of enterprises.
It goes without saying that the most significant problem for every enterprise dealing with hospitality is a stable demand because the client loss has an extremely negative influence not only on the income of the enterprise but on its image as well. That's exactly because of a low quality level the most part of customers leave. Moreover, according to statistics because of a low quality of service enterprises lose five times more than because of a low quality of goods. These numbers clearly demonstrate the importance of a personalized service regarding to a service quality. We come to a conclusion that most problems in quality control in a sphere of hospitality are concentrated in a field of completeness and quality of a guest service (68 % of customers are not satisfied with the service proposed by attendants).
It's necessary to admit that in a hospitality industry a great interest in technological innovations has led to a conviction that all direct contacts of guests with attendants would rather be reduced to solve the difficulty with hospitality, politeness and stability of a service quality. Fortunately, clients didn't follow the proposed tendency and nowadays for the most part of visitors it is definitely the communication of staff with clients, their involvement into the problem solution etc. that is actually considered to be the most obvious parameter of a high quality service.
But speaking about the service sphere in our country, its specific national mentality with peculiar traditions and ideas requires a careful consideration. There is no need to fit a foreign business experience on domestic industrial processes. It might not merely cause negative consequences but it might also bother all the precious innovations that work effectively abroad.
While improving the system of quality control and developing the integration of the stuff and visitors, enterprises working in a hospitality industry should learn how to deal with complaints.
Managers should be very careful with complaints of their visitors because their existence indicates the weaknesses in a management system. Studying the object of complaints it's important to take into an account the necessity in an efficient management system oriented on the satisfaction of visitors' demands, the need to find out the reasons for current dissatisfaction and their solution. There is an urgent necessity to work out and incorporate effective methods or stable system of rules for conflict resolution. They need to try all the applying methods which have to work without interruption. So in this case every complaint would not be treated as a collapse and the management staff would not act as an ambulance because all the rules and algorithms would be already defined and collaborators in their turn would be ready to deal with critical and stressful situations.
Unfortunately, the majority of enterprises in our country and abroad as well usually start to realize an urgent necessity in such a procedure only when a dissatisfied customer makes a complaint. Some hospitality and touristic organizations don't fully understand the nature of complaints following just widespread myths about their reasons and as a result they reveal their incapacity in preventing conflicts. It's strongly recommended to be aware that, a disappointed guest is always a missed chance, so every missed guest should be considered to be an obvious mistake in a management system of this or that enterprise.
Usually collaborates are lack of time to find an appropriate moment for some informal discussions with a visitor whether it's an instant when he came back from a restaurant or a performance or it's a pause when he is back from an excursion. There is not always a chance to communicate with a guest who is actually a permanent client but it's still important to realize that such kind of communication could be efficient for a visitor as well for an enterprise. To ignore the relations described above means to deliberately lose customers.
The prosperity of every country is defined by the accent it makes, whether a quality or a quantity, more than by a particular type of economics or social-political structure. According to the concept of Post-industrial society proposed by D.Bell, D.Riesman, A.Toffler, Z.Brzeziński, G.Galbraith, A.Touraine and others, in a modern world there are several alternatives of social development:
- The elite is a term that defines a group of leader countries with an intensive development of informational economics (knowledge — based economy) accompanied with the financial flows, scientific discoveries, technological innovations.
- The world factory is a group of countries with a concentration of the whole world production.
- A raw material appendages are the countries that develop the sectors of hydrocarbon production and mineral industry.
In this process the quality is an important tool for an efficient market competition. It is precisely the quality that provide the competitive capacity of goods. It consists of a technical level of an output and to what extant a customer finds it useful through its functional, social, aesthetic, ergonomic and ecological characteristics. In addition, the competitiveness is determined by the combination of quality and price characteristics of a good satisfying customer's demands, and by the expanses on a purchase and a consumption of a corresponding product.
The term of quality in hospitality enterprises differs greatly from the quality in a field of production. The goods of hospitality industry are produced and consumed at the same time while in a sphere of production both these stages are separated into two independent stages, time and space. The latter makes it possible to test and prevent the defects before the final product gets to customers. Obviously, the defected goods cost the company definite sum of expenses, but for clients it's much more profitable to prevent the purchase in comparison with their sale value or with a compensation of a product as a defect.
Concerning the enterprises of a hospitality and restaurant industry, in a peak of service demand it could be very hard to provide an efficient quality control. So the high quality and its continuous improvement is the most significant goal which contribute to a business success.
The hospitality business is characterized by a close integration between an administrative staff and visitors. However, the absolute quality is very hard to achieve. Collaborates would make mistakes anyway which might result in a system error. Thus, the tendency to provide and improve the quality is an infinite process which have to be followed by all the enterprises specializing in a service industry. Through the widespread programs oriented on a quality development managers aim to avoid failures as well as to increase the client's perception of a proposed service quality. The enterprises which are not capable to provide a high quality incur evident expanses.
If a quality level is not efficiently examined considerable expanses for defect correction could be inevitable. Creation of long-term programs for defect correction is considered to be much more productive.
In countries with a well-developed market economy leading companies focus all necessary application services on the high quality achievement. Key role in a high quality development corresponds to customer's demands and their feedback, the information about technical problems, failures and mistakes. Solution of a quality problem inside the enterprise is also important for the national economy because it would allow to work out the progressive proportions between its branches and inside them as well, for example, between the touristic industry and the hospitality business. These proportions should be defined by a service method improvement used for working with customers, by development of an economical service efficiency. The improvement of quality of hospitality products have a great influence on a service industry of the whole country.
Being managed the quality is characterized by the same parts as a management process: planning, analysis, control.
Nowadays quality management is based on the results of researches made by large foreign corporations on consulting programs dealing with quality control.
Quality service program includes marketing and management collaboration of an enterprise. In order to develop the efficient service quality an enterprise has to follow the rules based on common scientific principles, the rules which reflect the peculiarities of a company. As a rule, enterprises use the standard program for high quality service which consists of ten main postulates. This program is always edited be managers who follow the stated aims of a company and its directions. That are:
- The leadership problem. Managers have to be aware of directions and future development of an enterprise. But in most cases might be not enough. The high-level management staff have to clearly present the importance of an idea of future development to their colleagues and invent principles for encouraging them to belief and follow this idea.
Professionals focus on being successful in a service quality be means of actions obvious for both assistants and visitors.
These worldwide leaders always follow the list of definite actions:
they pay attention to every single thing that demonstrates how their corporation fulfill the work;
they spend much time in their hotels or restaurants to observe current production processes;
they organize and run themselves meetings with their collaborates and visitors;
they never accept the compromises connecting with the service quality;
they are devoted supporters of the idea of a high-quality services;
they follow in a strict way the corporation principles and at the same time they require the same attitude from both partners and colleagues and supporting organizations.
- The introduction of a marketing approach to the all sectors of an enterprise.
The marketing conception means an absolute integration into an enterprise. Tom Fitzgerald, a marketing vice-president of ARAMARK Services affirms that a functional accomplishment of a marketing in a company specialized in services, is an obligatory responsibility of every colleagues without exception independently of a department. He also doubts opinion of marketing specialists and he suggests refusing the creation of a department which deals with such problems. But the practice shows the necessity of marketing in a work process of every enterprise.
- Comprehension of customers needs.
Customers always feel well the quality level offered by this or that company. The companies proposing the high-quality services have to realize what exactly the markets demands from them. Thus a product or service have to satisfy definite demands.
For example, the restaurant Mr. Steak has fulfilled the list of marketing researches and statistics to define the needs of disappointed visitors. Results have shown that without doubt the most part of visitors were not satisfied because of being long in a queue with a desire to pay. For many years this company has been proposing the clients to make their next payments in a cash-desk of an enterprise with special tickets. But according to the results of research this procedure was decidedly changed. Now customers are proposed to pay their bills themselves or to ask a restaurant attendant to do that instead.
- Business comprehension.
A high-quality service always requires a coherent team work of all colleagues. Every participant has to be aware in what extant his work contributes to a final work process of the whole team. Nowadays there are a lot of enterprises which teach their collaborates a so called “cross service” that makes them capable to accomplish different kinds of work. Such training gives them an opportunity to obtain various jobs and skills and it encourages them to penetrated into the peculiarities of other professions. Thus, every participant of a process takes into an account the way his work influences the final product of a team and, as a result, the way his actions are reflected on a quality the customers perceive. That is how the sense of such kind of business should be treated.
- Application of fundamental organizational principles in a work process
The work process should be clearly structured and it should have a qualified management. This procedure starts firstly with an elaboration of a project of a management conception.
For example, in hotels Courtyard Inns of the Marriott enterprise the planning process was elaborated so that the distinctive features in their hotels would bring profit to customers in a market segment they chose. The special methods were used that allowed to provide collaborates with the latest information and organize effectively their work.
In companies that propose high-quality services every day there are always the operational process systems that are efficiently adjusted and structured.
- Liberty factor
Usually in four- or five-star restaurants and hotels customers expect a customer oriented service. And at the same time the system of service selling should be very flexible. As a rule in such enterprises workers are quite independent in their actions which guarantee exactly the service demanded by visitors. In addition, to increase an effectiveness of a work process it should be forbidden to force the workers to follow strict instructions or vital rules. On this stage it's much more efficient for managers to maintain the work of their collaborates and precise its directions but not set strict principles or postulates which, actually, in an everyday life would disturb them, for sure, from giving the best service and attitude to visitors.
- Application of appropriate methods.
Application of these methods is necessary for:
a control of sales changes;
providing a help to an operating system;
a development and an enlargement of a customer database;
an improvement of methods which provide connection with consumers of goods and services.
For example, hotel net The Rits-Carlton being awarded with Malcom Baldridge prize for an excellent service, has introduced a computerized system of history of all the guests which gave the company a free access to the information about 240 000 permanent visitors. In addition, The Ritz-Carlton collected the production information concerning 720 directions of its work. These messages served as a system that would prevent the problems disturbing a high-quality service proposed to customers. Another profitable information used by a company included annual reports on cycles of preventive room maintenance and on percentage of guest registration without queues and delays. Pursuing the purpose to provide a stable high-level quality to the guests staying in their hotels, The Ritz-Carlton is profiting from advanced technologies up till now, starting with an auto-maintenance of a building and security system up to an auto-booking system.
- An effective staff management
First of all executive recruiters aim to select and hire an appropriate stuff that answers their requirements. From the very beginning collaborates have to be capable to provide the quality of that level that was initially promised to customers. Otherwise, the training programs would not give necessary results which are important for reaching stated purposes, principles and standards of an enterprise.
- Setting the standards, estimating the work and introducing the stimulation system.
The most significant way to develop the service quality is to set strict and well-defined standards and goals which reflect the peculiarities of this or that enterprise working in a sphere of hospitality, with a perspective training program for working stuff and for managers as well. The level of such rules and standards has to be continuously verified and improved, developing the efficiency of its functioning. As for collaborates who provide a high quality service should be rewarded accorded to their merits.
- Feedback from employees on results of their work
All the results gained in the researches carried out by an enterprise have to be necessarily announced to all the collaborates. As a rule this procedure is conducted by executive managers by a direct contact with collaborates or by way of meetings led in every department. Employees have to be aware of the priorities of their guests, their remarks and requests on the quality of a service, and they also have to take into consideration the immediate activities that a company undertake to satisfy expectations of their guests.
The studying of the programs that provide the quality assurance in hotels and in restaurants has demonstrated that the final results of an introduction of the systems described earlier have justified the initial investments. However, there are still some enterprises of a hospitality industry that inform from time to time about an inefficiency of these innovations. After a careful studying of every identical situation usually there appear some evident conclusions that allow to define three basic reasons for failures of the systems of quality assurance:
- executive and middle management lack the sense of responsibility;
- isolation of a person specializing in an adjusting of the systems of quality assurance from an accomplishing of stated goals;
- replacement of an enterprise owner.
In fact, a perfect service quality can hardly ever been achieved being determined by a human factor, so, it makes the process of tending to the high quality be infinite. But on the market the solution of a quality problem is an effort to win a competition. The variability of quality is considered to be one of the most important problems to solve. Elaboration of new unique rules, standards and norms of services has to contribute to a solution of this question.
The standard is treated as a normative document on a standardization based on an agreement that is characterized by an absence of any contradictions on a subject of significant points among the majority of interested parties (consumers and producers), it's the document that is stated to be an avowed department and that is compulsory.
Accommodation category is another important question that deserves to be taken into account in respect to a quality control. Today there is no any standard system for hotel categorization all over the world including The European Union.
According to The International Hotel&Restaurant Association at the moment official systems of accommodation categorization are used only in 64 countries all over the world, while in 11 from them this system is on a stage of elaboration and in 58 countries hotels don't have standard classification among which there are the USA, The UK and Japan. It takes place because the elaboration of such a system of accommodation categorization is in a list of the most complicated questions in a sphere of tourism and in a hotel industry. That is true that according to researches the quantity of parameters that characterize the quality of different types of accommodation comes to more than several hundreds.
In an international experience there are several solutions for the problem of categorization of accommodation facilities.
Among these solutions there is one followed by France, Austria, Russia, which gives preference to so-called statistic peculiarities, or to the technical quality. This direction includes a complete accordance with a stated proportion of rooms with an en suit bathroom and the quantity of saunas, covered swimming pools, spa etc. to a definite proportion of service stuff and hotel capacity etc.
Another direction of a problem solution proposes numerous “dynamic factors”, or a functional quality. Followers of this direction consider that a strict proportion without an appropriate level of service does not give an objective evaluation of a real quality of a hotel service. The direction presented above includes the system of categorization of accommodation facilities in Switzerland and some other hotel nets.
Some other mixed approaches are widely applied for defining the categories of accommodation facilities, for example, in the UK or in the Philippine Islands.
Nowadays there are various national systems of accommodation categories, first of all categories of hotels (the star system ranks from one to five; the system of letters includes A, B, C, D; system of crowns or brilliants, keys, apples, moons etc.) which can be arranged into two general groups:
- European type which based on the French national system;
- numerical system, based on Indian national system (it prevails in Africa and Asia)
So far, the hospitality industry is considered to be a high competitive sector. It's worth mentioning here that no single day passes without an announcement about an opening day of a new hotel or a restaurant. Thus, enterprises have developed the latest concepts, pursuing the purpose of high customer satisfaction. As a rule, enterprises begin their business successfully but gradually some of them being incapable to bear a tough competition, give up their business.
Speaking about hospitality industry, “service” is defined as a system of measures which provide a high level of comfort, satisfy everyday necessities of customers, economic requirements and cultural needs. Every year these requirements are increasing. The more developed is the culture and the quality of service, the higher is the image of a hotel, the more attractive it is for visitors, and what is more important, the more successful is a prosperity of an enterprise.
An essential goal for hotels is to develop an image of an enterprise with a high level of quality. It is achieved by an efficient team work of all departments of a hotel, continuous and effective control carried by managers, development of service forms and approaches, studying and introduction of the latest international experience, advanced technologies and equipment, providing a wide range of services and increasing its quality.
Being pressed by a tough competition, today's enterprises which work in a hospitality industry, shouldn't rely on traditional and ineffective forms of corporate culture.
Without doubt, the internship and a further reviewing of obtained results gave a really priceless experience which made it possible to better understand and estimate the process of quality control and its peculiarities in the hospitality industry. While developing in a stable and confidant direction, an enterprise implements the latest management methods, knowledge and skills into its work. In spite of all the failures in a work process, it's worth saying that in general its development and place in a hospitality business in Moscow keep being stable. Resuming all the aspects that were analyzed earlier it's necessary to point out some important conclusions.
Firstly, sufficient material resources, motivated and qualified staff are not enough to maintain the high level of quality. It necessary to work out an organized and structured quality control. Stable support of a high level of quality is impossible without an introduction of main principles of quality control which fully correspond to a development level of today's enterprise. At the same time a permanent and steady improvement of quality has been treated as a long-term strategy for a continuous progress which leads to a stable and determined success.
Secondly, selection and preparation of qualified managers includes studying and further obtaining of modern methods of quality control of goods and services, works, processes and management systems. All this is defined by a high competitive status of the quality itself. But having a high competitive power doesn't mean the production of goods or services of the most expensive brands. The level of quality have to be available to various part of population. No matter what category is a hotel it has to be safe, comfortable and friendly.
Thirdly, hotel services are characterized by its intangible nature which causes the difficulties in a direct control of quality on an enterprise. A human factor has a great influence on a work process of a hotel. So executive managers always have to take into consideration ethnic and cultural differences of their collaborates.
Every enterprise that deals with the hospitality industry focuses on a complicated goal to keep its status realizing the possibilities of various risks, to win confidence of today's customers. Despite disadvantages every company should have a significant advantage that is managers have to be aware of a permanent development of a management system, they should tend to establish higher standards. According to the principles stated by Ritz-Carlton no matter to what extant the business is considered to be successful and stable, there should always be a tendency for further development.
In conclusion I would like to admit that the experience shows that it's useless to search for solutions that require a lot of expanses, to learn customers' wishes. It's better to ask them, listen very attentively to their requirements, opinions, recommendation and after to follow them. It's always necessary to keep in mind that working in that way an enterprise follows a unique and effective marketing strategy which is fully oriented on customers.
- Котлер, Ф. Маркетинг в третьем тысячелетии: Как создать, завоевать и удержать рынок / Ф. Котлер — М.: Издательство АСТ, 2009.
- Лапидус В. А. Всеобщее качество (TQM) в российских компаниях. — М.: ОАО «Типография «Новости», 2009.