However, leisure time is usually limited and thus valuable in our modern society and hence consumer expectation of the product or experience purchased in this time has subsequently risen vastly. Quality is of the essence, gone are the days of 'Fawlty Towers.' People expect and demand so much more from their hospitality experience. Ideas, tastes and trends of hospitality are expanding, one example being the recent growth of boutique type hotels such as the Malmaison chain located in up market urban areas, modern contemporary urban chic culture were the emphasis is on luxury (Aggett; 2007). Such an experience and its quality is thus very much dependant on the service provided by front line employees. Only those enterprises which can satisfy the customer will survive, achieve longevity and be successful in the ever growing intensely competitive hospitality market.
Hospitality is characterised by the 'intangibles' which can even be of increased value in comparison to the tangible physical products such as food and drink. Therefore, within the hospitality industry it is undoubtedly the performance of the front line service staff that will either enhance or diminish a customers experience and thus determine whether a hospitality venture sinks or swims.
In order for staff to perform to such high standards and produce such quality they need to be committed to their organisation, to be empowered, to be given the appropriate skills, training, support, motivation and reward for their work and effort. A company that invests heavily in its human resources, selecting the appropriate people, providing opportunity and encouragement will achieve a loyal, motivated and proud workforce. It will provide the organisational culture necessary for long term success. This is very important for the hospitality industry to acknowledge, especially as typically the industry is characterised by a high labour turnover, casual, part time and migrant employees, and, certain labour shortages;
"Finding chefs and waiting staff is one of the biggest problems facing employers, affecting all sectors of the hospitality industry." (Hospitality Training Foundation; 2002, 9)
Rowley and Purcell (2001) acknowledge a range of skill shortages and relate it to;
"Poor management practices and weak HR policies." (Rowley and Purcell; 2001)
Investment in HRM and adoption of HRM practices, particularly soft HRM (Lucas; 1995) would only be advantageous to the hospitality industry.
2 Aim of Research
The aim of this paper is to establish if the UK hospitality has adopted the concept of HRM. The meaning of HRM will be based upon the pioneering work of British hospitality academic David Guest (1987, 1997, 1999) who devised a matrix to represent the scale of hard and soft HRM in operation. Guest's writings epitomise soft HRM. Guest also provides a theory and model of HRM, of which the intention was:
"To develop a set of testable propositions and finally to arrive at a set of prescriptive policies" (Guest, 1987, 503).
The central hypothesis of Guests' theory is:
" if an integrated set of HRM practices is applied with a view to achieving the normative goals of high commitment to the organisation plus high quality and flexibility, then higher worker performance will result" (Guest, 1997, 265).
To judge the extent of HRM application, focus will be on the