Applying Communication Technology: Introducing Email and Instant Messaging in the Hospitality Curriculum
Newman, Amy, Brownell, Judi, Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education
Research has documented the importance and multiple uses of email and instant messaging (IM) in today's organisations. Although companies grapple with issues related to these technologies, researchers estimate that hospitality organisations are increasingly dependent on electronic communication for internal and external communication. The authors recommend a way for hospitality educators to prepare students for their future responsibilities. The knowledge and skills required to address individual and corporate-level challenges are presented in the form of a portable course unit that can be integrated into hospitality classes in a variety of disciplines.
Keywords: Hospitality; Education; Technology; Teaching methods; Email; Instant messaging
Research (American Management Association [AMA], 2005; Logan et al., 2005; Osterman Research, 2007) has documented the importance and multiple uses of email and instant messaging (IM) in today's fast-paced workplace. Given the increasing use and misuse of electronic communication, the authors propose that a portable unit be introduced into the hospitality curriculum to prepare future hospitality managers for the challenges ahead.
This paper first establishes the prevalence of email and IM and issues surrounding use of these new technologies in the workplace are reviewed. Then, to help students maximise the advantages and minimise the risks of email and IM use, the authors provide learning objectives and potential course content and activities which hospitality educators can implement in a variety of disciplines.
Email and IM today
Email is commonly used in homes and organisations. Of the 72 per cent of American adults who are online, 91 per cent use email (Fox & Madden, 2005). At work, according to a 2004 AMA survey, 10 per cent of respondents spend more than four hours a day on email. Recent interviews with hospitality industry professionals revealed that email has become the most prevalent means of communication, with the number of daily messages received generally ranging from 20 for a club food and beverage director to over 100 for an e-commerce vice president (personal communication with J.K. and M.D., 21 March 2006).
In hospitality companies, email is increasingly used to communicate with external audiences. With 63 per cent of American adults using the internet to make travel reservations (Fox & Madden, 2005), hospitality companies are reaching large audiences through email marketing and enjoying generous returns. For example, a recent email from a luxury hotel group offering room discounts generated $600,000 in revenue (personal communication with M.D., 21 March 2006). Email is also serving as an effective feedback mechanism. This same hotel group receives a 35 per cent response rate to survey emails automatically generated when a guest checks out of a hotel (personal communication with M.D., 21 March 2006).
Unlike email, IM is akin to real-time chat and the technology of choice for young people. As students enter the workforce and as more companies become multi-national, IM is expected to increase substantially for both internal and external communication (Blackwell, 2006; Strom, 2006). According to Osterman Research (2007, Executive Summary: 1), "The demand for real-time, data sharing tools will grow ... with IM being the most popular technology (excluding Voice over Internet Protocol [VoIP]), reaching 30% of email users today and 41% in 2008". With presence-awareness technology, IM programmes indicate when someone is online, which increases the likelihood over email of getting an immediate response. Online collaboration is easier through IM because the interaction takes place in one window. A sample IM from a global consulting firm follows:
Employee 1: do you know how to undo split screens?
Employee 1: on excel?
Employee 2: yup
Employee 1: …
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Publication information: Article title: Applying Communication Technology: Introducing Email and Instant Messaging in the Hospitality Curriculum. Contributors: Newman, Amy - Author, Brownell, Judi - Author. Journal title: Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education. Volume: 7. Issue: 2 Publication date: November 2008. Page number: 71+. © OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY Apr 2010. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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