2Front-Office Jobs in the Age of Soft Skills

2.1. Toward a strong presence of soft skills in front-office jobs

Interpersonal skills have always been at the heart of the hospitality business. However, we are now seeing an emphasis on and reinforcement of these skills in the mid- and high-end ranges of chain hotels as the main competitive advantage. The transformation of these hotels into “lifestyle” offers integrates the changes in travel and tourism consumption patterns in order to attract more and more customers and build their loyalty. They are more interested in an authentic, unique relationship in their service experiences. The interpersonal skills and personalities of the front-office employees have become key resources in maximizing service quality. In the hotel industry, as in all service sectors, soft skills now take precedence over any other skill [NAS 16]1. Thus, human resources policies are oriented toward this strategic trend and employees are prescribed behavioral norms [LHU 06]. They are trained, recruited and evaluated against them. These new HR practices, resulting from the strategic imperatives of the competitive environment of hotel companies, are changing the perception – but perhaps not the reality – of front-office jobs. We will address these various questions in this chapter, first of all based on the evolution of these professions, through the specificities and challenges of professionalization, then the consequences on the work experience of the employees ...

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