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Reflections on the nature of skills in the experience economy: Challenging traditional skills models in hospitality

Baum, T.G. (2006) Reflections on the nature of skills in the experience economy: Challenging traditional skills models in hospitality. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 13 (2). pp. 124-135. ISSN 1447-6770

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This article addresses the nature of skills in international hospitality. Frequently characterised as 'low skills', it is increasingly recognised that skills bundling in services such as hospitality cannot be solely seen in terms of the technical attributes of work. Emotional and aesthetic dimensions have been added to the services skills bundle. The added dimension of Pine and Gilmore's 'experience economy' suggest a further component within this bundle, namely that of experience skills. This article explores the role of experiential factors in helping to equip those entering work in the international hospitality industry. The learning demands of the sector for those brought up in a western, developed world environment are relatively small, primarily reflecting the strongly Americanised operating culture of hospitality. In addition, those working in hospitality in most developed countries have experience of the sector as both consumers and employees. By contrast, employees in international hospitality in less developed countries do not have similar benefits of experience, either though general acculturation or as consumers of hospitality services. This divergent experience profile has significant implications for the skills demands of hospitality work and leads to the proposition that experience is an important factor in determining the skills demands of hospitality work. This, in turn, leads to this article's proposal that Experiential Intelligence (ExQ) is an indicator of this difference in terms of workplace skills.