Where Is the Meaning We Have Lost in Hospitality? Turning the Light on the Values We Live and Work By
Tourism and hospitality have a rich tradition of values that emphasise care for individuals, a concern for community, and responsibility for society. However, these complex social interactions and traditional values are often in conflict with contemporary economic goals that emphasise profit maximisation. This paper discusses the tensions between the demands of the commercial, economic environment and the relationship-centred origins of hospitality. Aristotle’s notion of practical wisdom and its relevance to hospitality is explored within this context. The overall purpose of this paper is to explore the values that influence hotel management decision making. A qualitative case study was undertaken within nine hotels belonging to two international hotel groups in New Zealand. Data was gathered from 24 interviews with hotel and area managers and a document analysis of key company documents was also undertaken. The findings reveal that hotel managers must balance the tensions between people and profit, transactions and interactions, and the standardisation required to operate a global brand along with the flexibility need for accommodating personal uniqueness. Moreover, while the participants and hotel documents express the importance of hospitality values, it is evident that economic rationality and resulting instrumental action threaten to dominate management decision making.