Bearded Hotel Staffers Don't Cut It With Guests, Says New Cornell Study
November 5, 2013 9:16am
The study, "The Frontline Provider's Appearance: A Driver of Guest Perceptions," is the featured article in the November 2013 Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, which is published by Sage Publishing for the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. For a limited time, Sage will make this article free for access. The authors are Vincent P. Magnini, Melissa Baker, and Kiran Karande. Magnini and Baker are at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, and Karande is on the faculty at Old Dominion University.
For this study, the researchers used the concept of how appearance translates to assurance. They asked a panel of 102 people drawn from a national consumer panel to judge employees' knowledge and courtesy and their ability to convey trust and confidence-all based on their photograph. From this comparison of carefully designed photographs of models, hotel guests ascribed greater assurance ability to clean-shaven men, and to all men and women who smile and are attractive. The beard effect did not influence the guests' assessment of the African-American models, but the bearded Caucasian men were judged less effective than their clean-shaven counterparts (smile or no smile).
The authors suggest that the practical implications of their findings are that: (1) hotel firms generally should not permit their employees to wear beards, except in special situations; (2) hotel firms should incorporate genuine smiling training in their customer service training (since guests can immediately determine when an employee is faking it); and (3) within appropriate legal and ethical boundaries, hotel firms should put in place, manage, and enforce grooming policies that could influence the facial attractiveness ratings of their employees.
Tags: cornell study,
cornell hospitality quarterly,
cornell school of hotel administration
Contact: Ashlee McGandy
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