Experiential Learning: In the Hotel Industry
Experiential learning is a form of constructivist learning since it allows active learning by the students, therefore, they construct their own understanding of things, rather than learning such knowledge while in the classroom. The aim of this essay is to detail experiential learning in the hospitality industry: hotel, detailing on its different departments.
Our hotel management teacher sent us to different hotels in order to receive practical trainings concerning the operations that take place in a hotel. I was posted to the Intercontinental Hotel in Jeddah and on the first few days I moved up and down the hotels HR Department so as to fully understand how it works. The HR manager Miss Jane Ludwig was so helpful as she took me through all the department offices and explained to me the functions and responsibilities her department held towards the full functionality of the hotel. She told me how her department was so fundamental in running the hotel and amongst others, the functions of her department are explained below in depth.
It’s the duty of the HR department to ensure that the hotel business works within the labor laws as stipulated by the state. This department has to be aware of the nation’s set of rules and regulations governing employment and follow them to the latter. These set of regulations and rules include issues like the age of employment, number of hours one can work per day, minimum wages, and safety measures in place of work among others (Baehr 2012). Here she showed me a booklet containing all the rules and regulations laid down by the government in conjunction with labor organizations in order to protect the employee from mistreatment by the employer.
Also the human resource department is responsible for recruiting and training new employees into the hotel company. It’s their duty to know the vacant positions and advertise them, carrying out interviews and hiring the capable candidates. They also set time and train the new recruits. This department also is responsible for publishing the training materials to be used by trainees and handbooks, which detail the description of the job (Baehr 2012). Luckily enough for me, the HR department was carrying out interviews that day so the HR coordinator took me through on how they undertake interviews and the criteria they use so as to reach to the perfect candidate.
This department has the mandate to keep all the industry’s business records. These records include those of expenses, purchases, income and also a summary entailing all the business transactions. It also keeps employees records together with their tax forms. The entire hotel’s insurance records, inventory statistics, business license, and every pertinent business records have to be filed by this department (Baehr 2012). I was taken to the store were the departments keeps all the hotel’s business records and was amazed how such a department could handle so much paperwork.
Distribution of payroll and company’s benefits is handled by this department. It also ensures that all mal-payment issues emanating from employees are dealt with accordingly and all benefits and allowances, for instance, hospital benefits, and hardship allowances are settled and enumerated correctly. Also, they handle benefits from other associations and organization like workers association, benefit schemes among others (Baehr 2012).
This department has the responsibility of handling employee relations inside and outside the hotel. The emergence of any misunderstanding or dispute between manager and employees or between employees themselves is mediated by the human resource staff officers. This department encourages the employees to bring forth to them any relational problems encountered within the hotel (Baehr 2012).
This department is a major initiator in organizing performance improvement plans for their employees. These include written proposals aimed at helping struggling employees in order to better their work to level with the expectations of the hotel. It also shows the certain areas of performance or behavior in the hotel, which needs attention, the objectives to be attained within a stipulated time frame, support resources together with plans for finishing the laid down improvement, and the consequences to be faced in case the improvement fails to occur within the stated time frame (Baehr 2012).
By the time I was through with this department in terms of being trained by its personnel, I had gained much knowledge on how it operated and carried out its business such that I felt confident and able to work in the department.
Sales and marketing department
In this department I came across the department’s director, Mr. Jonathan Meyer who was a very informational and humble person. He introduced me to the staff and took me around the department so as to elaborate to me how the department operates. He told me how this department was very important in the hotel as it was the one responsible for attracting and retaining customers. Therefore he extensively showed me the strategies they had to put in place to ensure that customers were attracted to their products and some included employing traveling sales representatives, mail shots, planning sales interviews, and use of telephone sales. Below are some of the functions performed by this department.
The marketing department has the responsibility of researching the needs of the customers and developing the appropriate strategies and products, which satisfy the customer’s needs. In the department’s research, they have to carry out investigations on the market they want to capture, the sort of consumers, which make up the wanted market, and their preferences. Then, this department will have to weigh out the production of a profitable product with the consumers’ preferences (Chon, K, and Maier, T. 2009: 154).
This department ensures that it coordinates all sales activities by meeting the customers’ demands with the appropriate supply. It’s their responsibility to ensure that they increase the hotel’s sales volume within a stipulated time frame by offering the appropriate motivations to the sales personnel and the right training, so that they carry out the task of selling successfully. It’s their role to study the current markets trends, to examine new markets, the psychology of the consumers, and also make sale budgets. This department also has the duty of analyzing the markets’ demands and operating within those demands and persuading the consumers to buy the finished product (Chon, K, and Maier, T. 2009: 154.).
It’s this department’s duty to search for the suitable agencies or persons in order to carry out the hotel’s sales activities. This department is also responsible for selecting the routes to be followed, while distributing the hotel’s goods and services, training the sales personnel so that they have the proper knowledge of the hotel’s goods and services, and ways of selling them. This department directs and supervises all sales activities within the hotel (Chon, K, and Maier, T. 2009: 154).
Front Office Department
Once through with the sales and marketing department, I was taken to the front office department which was quite a memorable experience. Here the department manager introduced me to the front desk personnel and told me how this department was important in the hotel industry as it acted as the outline picture of the hotel to the public hence it had to be properly managed so as to bring in customers. Then the receptionist Mrs. Monika Yusuf showed me how guests were received and how they were booked in. below are some of the functionalities of this department (Bardi, J. 2010 79-80).
The front office department in a hotel industry portrays an outline picture of the hotel to the public and it’s composed of the telephone, concierge, reservation, phone service system, and the reception area. This department gives help to hotel’s guests during their entire stay, they complete the guests’ accommodation, accounts, distribution of beverage and food, and it’s also responsible for receiving the guestrooms payment. This department is responsible for selling the guestrooms, designing guestrooms, registering the guests, coordinating the guest services, and even providing the required information by guests (Bardi, J. 2010 79-80).
The reservation section in the front office department is responsible for receiving and processing the booking requests put forth for all accommodations in the hotel. Personnel in the front office are responsible for welcoming all the incoming guests, carrying their bags, assisting them in registering to the hotel, providing them with their respective mails and room keys, offering appropriate response concerning questions raised by the guests on the operations of the hotel together with its surrounding areas, and definitely checking the guests out once they are through with their stay (Bardi, J. 2010 79-80).
Functions of the Operation Department
In this department, I met the ever busy personnel in the hotel as each was running here and there and the manager was always on their necks so as to ensure that everything was going on as planned. Mr. Elijah the departmental manager told me the importance of supervising the labor force in the department as this could ensure maximum results were attained. The kitchen supervisor took me to the kitchen and its here were I learnt to cook foreign dishes mostly of Japanese origin.
The operation department in a hotel has the duty of taking inputs and modeling them into finished goods for the customer to use. These inputs range from physical ones like raw materials for making food to even services offered like manpower to make them into consumable end product. The main aim of this department is to make products that are more efficient and economical to the hotel (Acevedo 2012).
This department is termed as the backbone of hotel industry as without it the hotel cannot fully operate. This is so because most of the activities done in the hotel dwell around this department. For instance, this department has the functionality of making all the goods, consumed in the hotel, together with offering the required services in the hotel. This department has also the responsibility of offering customer services, which include cooking and serving food, the waiters distributing it to the consumers. This service also deals with the requirements of the customers and support functionality either through mail, phone or online based (Acevedo 2012).
This department also has the role of a fulfillment entity, which makes sure that products are delivered timely to the customers. It also ensures the hotel operates in profit. This involves close monitoring of the hotel’s input costs, production evaluation, and even expenses of the hotel. It’s this department’s role to carry out self-evaluation in monitoring the quantity, cost, and quality of goods and services produced. This process would generally entail carrying out of production evaluation, routine reporting, and statistical metrics (Acevedo 2012). Standard analysis of the goods and services is carried out by this department. These analyses include utilization analysis, control of stock analysis, capacity analysis, metrics quality analysis, just in time analysis of inputs, and critical path analysis.
Benefits of Learning through Practice
Learning through practice helps in developing social, personal, and emotional skills. For instance, when having hotel management studies through practice, this could definitely develop one’s social skills through interactions amongst students themselves and the guests visiting the hotel. Emotional skills will be developed by knowing how to respond to customers and your fellow workers (Stevens 2012).
Practice learning enhances expressive and aesthetic/artistic skills. Practical learning is the real thing that someone is supposed to experience once in the field. For instance, everything done in theory is put in practice, hence, this would definitely enhance one’s artistic skills like in the field of cooking, field of serving customers, and also get experience on how to operate the machinery, found in the hotel. This would also build one’s expressive skills and confidence through the interactions with guests in the hotel (Stevens 2012).
Another advantage of practical learning is that it assists in developing one’s knowledge and understanding skills. The theoretical knowledge gained in class is directly applied experimentally, hence, expounding the knowledge span and the way of understanding of the subject matter. Understanding skills will greatly increase since the trainee is dealing with the subject matter face to face. For instance, in a hotel scenario, one will definitely understand how to deal with customers, and how other services in the hotel are offered (Stevens 2012).
This type of learning is known to impact greatly on one’s physical skills in the field. For instance, one will get the thrill of physically knowing how to operate the equipment found in a hotel. If it’s in the field of front office, one will physically interact with the guests and know how housekeeping is operated, how room booking is done physically, receiving of telephone calls and carrying out room service. A major benefit of practical learning is building up active learning in institutions. Theoretical learning sometimes gets boring by being explained on theories hard to understand but the experimental thing draws everyone’s attention and eagerness as people are interested to know how equipment operates. Also, interaction with the real world keeps one at alert to know what happens, where and how. Through everyone’s participation in the field promotes activeness in the way of learning (Stevens 2012).
This kind of learning assists in developing one’s professional discipline. The person gets to know what he/she is expected to do in the field practically, since it involves experiencing the real work in real situations. This would definitely pull out a very professional self in someone, hence, competence is guaranteed once releases into one’s field of work (Stevens 2012).
Experiential learning may take different form including experiments, field trips, field observations, simulations and survey. As shown, experiential learning allows students to gain and apply knowledge in relevant areas like in sales and marketing department, HR department, front office department and the finance department.