Ethics in Hospitality Industry

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Ethics in Hospitality Industry


Different aspects of ethics are applied to the hospitality industry, which essentially deals with the relationship between a host and a guest. Such philosophers as Derrida Jacques have clearly defined the ethical practices, which have to be taken care of by hosts. However, due to the increasing competition in the hospitality industry, hosts often face various ethical dilemmas in their practice. In case the industry focuses only on ethical practices, there is a high probability that it would not remain competitive and would lose its customers. Contrariwise, if any organization operating in the hospitality industry does not care about ethics and only aims at making profits, they would become dishonest with their guests. However, it has also been evident that if institutions continue to practice ethical behavior, their profit generation in the long term will increase. There is a need for the hospitality sector to integrate its business practices with ethical principles in a way that none of the hosts or guests are negatively affected.

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The relationships between host and guest are unique since a guest is basically a stranger to host. When a guest chooses a certain hospitality service, he or she puts trust in the host and thus, the hotelier is expected to meet those expectations. Strangers need to be protected and they should be given priority over the personal benefit (Lieberman and Nissen 55). As per ethical values, the hospitality industry in all its policies should always consider that there is a need to assist the stranger in his journey. Thus, the challenges that hospitality industry face are unique in their kind. The industry is not only responsible for maintaining the ethical values imposed by the principle of humanity (Firth 37), but also for the dealings with stranger. At the same time, the hospitality industry cannot provide the services for free, hence, the managers need to devise the policies and strategies that should be based on the both directions: maximizing the profit for the organization while maintaining ethical code of conduct to avoid harm to the guest.

Different philosophers have developed theories for identifying the responsibility of hosts. Jaqcues attempted to integrate the ethical principles with the practices of hospitality industry. According to Jaqcues’s theory, total antinomy is the governing factor for the industry where unconditional acceptance of stranger is determined by the regulations of unlimited hospitality, while unconditional regulations are determined by the conditional norms (Jaqcues 65). The author provided the model which could provide a balance between the two forms of hospitality (conditional and unconditional). The main components of ethics, which should be integrated with the business practices of hospitality sector include trustworthiness, integrity, honesty, fairness, loyalty, commitment to excellence, concern and respect to others, accountability , reputation and morale as well as leadership.

It is to be noted that most of the ethical principles that have been proposed by the philosophers to be integrated with the hospitality business are not as practical. As it was mentioned earlier, the first ethical principle that the hospitality managers need to follow is honesty. They should not deceive others by propagating misleading information or advertisements. In addition, administrators must possess integrity, which means that they should always be involved in righteous activities even when facing pressure. Third key requirement for the industry and its employees is the trustworthiness they need in order to exhibit to their guests, as they are only strangers and are risking their health and lives in hands of the industry players. The fourth requirement is that the managers should be loyal to both their organizations as well as to the guests. The fifth characteristic of the administrators is that they have to be fair in their actions and should not hide any information for their benefit. The sixth ethical value that managers must demonstrate is the concern and respect towards others. The seventh requirement is the managers’ commitment to excellence due to which they are always willing to put the maximum possible effort in their duties in order to ensure the best possible quality of the service their hotel or organization provides to the guests. As for the eighth characteristic, the employees working in the hospitality sector should be able to efficiently lead the team. Ninth ethical value is the managers’ focus on developing positive reputation and exhibiting high morale. Finally, the administrators are expected to be accountable for all the activities not only they do themselves, but they also have to take the full responsibility for the deeds of others such as their subordinates.

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The ethical dilemmas faced by the hospitality industry have grown over the past decade mainly because of the ever-increasing competition. As compared to the past, there are so many different hotels and other tourism organizations available that the customers and employees could just leave one for the sake of little benefit (Zoghbi-Manrique-de-Lara and Ting-Ding 1620). Even in the close proximities, there is a big number of hotels and tour agencies that even a minor dissatisfaction would mean losing a valuable customer for them. It is clear that it was almost impossible for the hospitality sector and the managers working there to fully meet all the ethical requirements; if they do so, there is still a threat for their profits or even for their sustainability in the market. Therefore, the hotels and other organizations are inclined towards practicing unethical behavior. For example, often there are the campaigns that claim to offer loyalty points that could lead to discount and other benefits (such as using hotel facilities at discounted rates). More guests get attracted by the hotels which announce the discount possibilities as compared to those that do not (Nicolaides). However, these claims are often misleading, and the customers might never get the full discount they were promised to receive. Most of the time, the guests just notice the main claim made by any advertisement campaign and they do not focus enough to read all the terms and conditions. The organizations tend to advertise the loyalty points and discount vouchers by highlighting the possible benefits of the schemes, while the terms and conditions are written in very small fronts due to which guests do not pay attention on other details. In reality, the hotel remains in benefit as the guests could approximately neve fulfill the criteria mentioned under the terms and conditions. This exemplifies an ethical dilemma for the hotel and other organizations of the tourism sector. In case they are just involved in ethical advertising practices, they would not be able to keep up with the practice because of the different hotels available. On the other hand, if they indulge in falsified advertisements, they will be dishonest with the guests who trust their host. Therefore, the hospitality sector needs to carefully apply the ethical principles so that the harm caused to both parties (host and guest) could be minimized.

In addition to the deception regarding prices, the tourism sector also spreads the content, which is often misleading and false. For example, the hotels may post pictures of their high-quality rooms and other facilities while they are not present in reality. Similarly, the tour operators may share pictures of the destinations by enhancing their beauty using different artificial effects. All of these strategies are adopted by the hospitality organizations in order to attract more guests as well as to boost the profits. However, since such practices are deceptive and depict dishonesty towards the strangers, they are against the ethical values. Moreover, in the long term, the sharing of misleading content would be exposed, and the organization’s reputation would be negatively affected. Therefore, the hospitality sector should focus on providing quality experience to the guests instead of attracting them by propagating false information.

It is not necessary that the entire organization connected with the hospitality industry is involved in unethical behavior. Generally, the hospitality sector is conscious about its corporate social responsibility as well as it does not want to spoil the image it has acquired over the years. Due to the increasing competition, it has become crucial for each organization operating in this industry to maintain its positive reputation, which is a key factor driving the guests. However, there is always a possibility that an individual or a group of employees involve in unethical behavior for personal benefit. As cited by Claviez, the incident of unethical behavior happened in London’s Hotel Savoy in 1989. In this case, the manager Auguste Escoffier and chef both were fired for accepting less weigh food deliveries from the vendor against receiving commissions. This example revealed that employees can affect the reputation of the hotel negatively just for their individual benefit. Therefore, there is a need for the organization’s human resource and corporate social responsibility departments to guarantee that all workers and stakeholders practice the ethical guidelines.

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In order to ensure the competitive performance of the hospitality sector, as well as remaining ethical towards their guests, it is important to develop the innovative strategies. Offering discounted prices and loyalty points might not work, as mostly guests could not even avail them. Although most of the hospitality managers believe that being ethical would reduce their possibility of earning profits, this is not always the case. It may seem that by practicing ethical values the profits are reducing, but it happens only for the short term. The strategic managers always focus on the long-term business goals instead of short term. As it was previously mentioned, positive reputation has been regarded as one of the most important factors for the hospitality sector as it helps them to remain competent among other institutions. Therefore, when an organization will remain ethical and would not focus on making profit through propagating deceptive information, it would be able to earn positive reputation. Since this is the time of social media, positive as well as negative news are spread in no time. This means that in case a hotel does not use deceptive advertisement means, it may not be able to acquire large number of guests at first, but in the long run, positive word of mouth would spread for it leading to the high profits.


The hospitality industry faces serious challenges when attempting to integrate ethical values with its business processes. The increasing competition among all organizations in the hospitality industry is the main reason why the decision-makers in the industry face frequent ethical dilemmas. It is not possible to practice most ethical principles in this industry, since by doing so would drastically reduce the profits. However, the hospitality sector should not only target the short-term profits that it could make by indulging in non-ethical practices such as deceptive marketing. Instead, the focus of such organizations should be on long-term business performance, which is expected to improve directly in relation with the ethical behavior. Therefore, hotels, tour operators, and other organizations in the hospitality sector should carefully execute the business processes so that the harm caused to them and their guests will be minimized.

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