Power Relations in the Hospitality Sector

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The hospitality sector has over the years experienced growth and this is attributed to the rise in the global economy and the desire of the tourists to visit various tourist attraction sites around the world. In most countries, there has been an increase in the number of hotels and the services that they offer to consumers are designed in such a way that they meet their needs. Power relations exist in the hospitality sector and this is evidenced through the distribution of roles and responsibilities among the employees, the push for equality among the workers in terms of pay and the quality of services that are offered to the consumers. Power relations changes between hospitality for pleasure and hospitality for non-pleasure

Power exists within a set of specified structures and relations. In the hospitality sector, hotels have various organizational structures that are parts of the corporate cultures. The compositions of the structures provide an overview of the variation in the power relations between the hospitality for pleasure and that for non-pleasure. Major hotels around the world have organizational leaders that are tasked with the role of making primary decisions and delegating duties (Miao, Lehto & Wei, 2014). Departmental managers in such hotels ensure that organizational goals and objectives of the hotels are attained. The power networks in such hotels run from the apex of the organizational hierarchy to the junior employees. In the hospitality for non-pleasure, however, power tends to be decentralized and this allows for the workers to be part of the decision-making process (Van Rheede & Dekker, 2016). The difference between the power relations in the hospitality for pleasure and hospitality for non-pleasure is evidenced from the functionalities of their specified relations and structures.

The power relations in hospitality are dynamic and they keep changing. In the past two decades, there has been a significant growth in the hospitality industry and this is because of the increase in the consumer demand and the advancements in technology. One of the primary goals for the sector is to meet the satisfaction of the customers by offering them high-quality services. The quest for ensuring that the tastes and preferences of the customers are met is a major reason behind the ever-changing power dynamics in the hospitality industry (Lloyd, 2012). Customers will always prefer hospitality for pleasure compared to the hospitality for non-pleasure because of the high standard of satisfaction and leisure that the latter has to offer. Strong power networks exist in the hospitality for pleasure and this ensures that individual employees are aligned to the respective visions for the hotels. The growth in tourism is expected to contribute to an improvement in the performance of the hospitality industry in the future.

Foucauldian power highlights the social interactions within organizations. The ever-changing power relations between the hospitality for pleasure and hospitality for non-pleasure can be explained in the form of social interactions among the workers in both instances. With the ever-increasing competition intensity within the hospitality sector, individual firms are shifting their attention on ensuring that the productivity for all the employees is enhanced (Lashley & Morrison, 2013). One of the strategies that the hotels employ entails restoring power on the employees to be part of the decision making. Subsequently, this makes them feel appreciated and motivated. Such a workforce will always be at the forefront in meeting the goals and objectives that are set by a company (Brewer & Hurley, 1994). The power relations, however, weakens towards hospitality for non-pleasure. Most of the hotels that hardly meet the need of the consumers are characterized by poor social interactions among their employees. With power concentrating at the top leadership, it is hard for the junior employees to be part of the decision-making process, thus contributing to a decline in the productivity of the organizations. An improved social interaction also stands as a major difference between the hospitality for pleasure and hospitality for non-pleasure.

The employment laws around the world call for employers to ensure that they practice equality. The aspect of equity is an element of power relations and it varies from one individual firm in the hospitality sector to the other. Gender inequality is among the issues that have been reported in the sector but are slowly being eradicated. Historically, men have always been given better employment opportunities compared to the female (Baum & Cheung, 2015). In the modern day, however, the hospitality for pleasure has realized that granting equal employment opportunities to both the male and female workers is instrumental in that it improves its performance (Mitchell & Moore, 2012). Power relations among the male and female employees at gender balanced workplaces have also improved significantly. Other than gender equality, inclusivity is also evident in terms of recruitments of employees from diverse cultural backgrounds. Hospitality for non-pleasure, just like hospitality for pleasure has changed its approach to recruitment by focusing on ensuring that there is diversity in their staffing (Mitchell & Moore, 2012). Subsequently, this has had an enhancement in the productivity of the workers. However, the aspect of equality is not as strong at the hospitality for non-pleasure as compared to the hospitality for pleasure and this is among the reasons behind the latter’s power relations.

There is a difference in the hedonic and non-hedonic between the hospitality for pleasure and the hospitality for non-pleasure. The hospitality for pleasure is designed in such a way that it meets the needs of the consumers by offering them leisure and pleasure (Miao, Lehto & Wei, 2014). The individual hotels in the sector capture the attention for the customers that are willing to book accommodations with them, have fun with their friends and relatives and also have a taste of one in a lifetime experience. Such hotels have restaurants, bars, massage and spas areas and swimming pools. Tourists prefer booking the hedonic hotels because of the assurance that their satisfaction levels will be attained (Miao, Lehto & Wei, 2014). The hospitality for non-pleasure, on the other hand, can be categorized as non-hedonic. The non-hedonic nature of the individual hotels in the sector is characterized by the lack of leisure, fun, and pleasurable activities (Miao, Lehto & Wei, 2014). Consumers, for instance, book the hotels for meetings and conferences. Unlike the hospitality for pleasure, products and services for the non-pleasure hospitality are hardly hedonically driven.

Power relations keep on changing between hospitality for pleasure and hospitality for non-pleasure. The hospitality for pleasure allows for improved social interactions among the employees and this contributes to an enhancement in the workforce productivity. However, in the case of hospitality for non-pleasure, the power relations are weak and this has a negative impact on workforce performance. Products and services that are offered by the hospitality for pleasure are hedonically driven but those of the hospitality for non-pleasure are non-hedonic and this explains the latter’s enhanced relationship with the consumers. An improvement in gender and cultural equality within the hospitality is expected to continue contributing to the strengthening of power relations among the individual firms in the sector. The strong power relations within the hospitality for pleasure compared to the hospitality for non-pleasure play an integral role in its ever-expanding consumer base.


Baum, T. & Cheung, C. (2015). Women in Tourism & Hospitality: Unlocking the Potential in the Talent Pool, White Paper

Brewer, K., & Hurley, R. (1994). The Staying Power of Hospitality Corporations in the Continuing Care Industry: Issues From the Front Lines. Hospitality Research Journal, 17(2), 107-116. doi: 10.1177/109634809401700210

Lashley, C. & Morrison, A. (2013). In search of hospitality. [electronic resource]. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013.

Lloyd, H. (2012). Power, Resistance, and the Foucauldian Technologies. Philosophy Today, 56(1), 26-38. doi: 10.5840/philtoday201256122

Miao, L., Lehto, X., & Wei, W. (2014). The Hedonic Value of Hospitality Consumption: Evidence From Spring Break Experiences. Journal Of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 23(2), 99-121. doi: 10.1080/19368623.2013.766582

Mitchell, R., & Moore, S. (2012). Politics, participation & power relations. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Van Rheede, A., & Dekker, D. (2016). Hospitableness and sustainable development: New responsibilities and demands in the host-guest relationship. Research In Hospitality Management, 6(1), 77-81. doi: 10.2989/rhm.2016.

October 30, 2023


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