Hospitality Meaning and History

History of hospitality Industry and How it evolved so far

Why do We need to know the History of the Hotel Industry?

  • The past is the inescapable foundation on which the present is standing. Tomorrow the present shall be history.
  • It helps us understand the past, the changes that happened and were happening by the personalities than that have shaped our present their legacy.

Hospitality Industry dates back in the industry to 321 BC

History records that Chandragupta Maurya the Founder of the Mauryan Empire 321-297 BCE  built the Grand Trunk Road 3760 kms long road  to connect land-locked Central Asia to Cox Bazar, the seaport on the Eastern Coast through Howrah-Allahabad-Delhi-Amritsar-Lahore-Rawalpindi-Peshawar-Kabul, to facilitate Trade & Commerce

  • The Conjecture- With no records from that period available. Some form of catering establishment was required for traders traveling in groups by daytime to keep off dacoits & wild animals using the caravans pulled by camels, horses, mules, etc.
  • Serais – the Inns existed for them to stay the night, rest & feed for their animals plus safety of their merchandise.

The Beginning of the Hospitality Industry -Serais

1600 AD onwards when the Mughal Empire took root & reigned in India, it is recorded Mughal nobles built serais as a welfare measure to earn their place in heaven. The state too pitched in by building serais as a welfare measure where travelers were given food & shelter for the night.

The Serais (Serai- In Persian means a Travellers Lodge)-

A  huge room for travelers to rest for the night. With a facility for their animals to rest & feed at night.

  • The travelers cooked their own food, water was provided.
  • A place to keep their goods was also provided.
  • More importantly, Serais were the melting pot where cultures interacted to enrich themselves. Idlis a Central Asian dish may have reached South India thus!

Early Categorization of Hotels aka Sarais

  • Like hotels today,; budget/ luxury etc serais were also categorized.
  • Budget Serais were the Serais for the citizens.
  • Standard like Mughalserai meant for officers traveling on duty availing the comfort of well-maintained rooms, food, and fresh horses in addition to other needs.
  • Deluxe Serai- The Bibi ka Serai in Chandni Chowk built by Princess Jahanara daughter of Shah Jahan for Uzbek traders and other businessmen. It featured a waterfall and other frills a guest would experience in a 5 star hotel.

Evolution of the Hospitality Industry in the United States

We have to acknowledge the fact that though the USA started late but they are the pioneer in the development of the hospitality industry to what it is today.

  • 1630 The USA already had clubs as in England.
  • By the end of the 1600s stagecoaches operating on a fixed timetable were common in the USA & England. They needed to stop at Inns for refreshments, relieving themselves and to change horses. Those Inns could well be termed the Motels of those days.

The 1760s saw the Industrial Revolution taking place.

  • The steam engine driven trains and ships started traveling longer distances with more passengers.
  • The 1st Boom period for hotels.
  • Hotels on a grand scale started appearing in City Centres in New York then Copenhagen
  • 1800-beginning saw the Royal Hotel in London.
  • Before this, in King Louis’s XIV’s rule the Palace Vendome had come up. Multiple uses hospitality Complex with boutiques, offices, and apartments.
  • Japan had Ryokan guest houses and India Dak Bungalows built by the British.

The Turnabout Phase in hospitality

1794 – The City Hotel in New York opened with 70 rooms. The 1st hotel building to be planned & designed as a hotel.

  • Earlier hotels operated out of buildings that existed not designed for hotel purposes. The Turnabout

1829 – The first modern hotel in the USA opened The Tremont House Boston offering toilets inside the rooms, a locking system, and an A la Carte Menu!

  • The Holt Hotel in NY offered the guests a lift to carry their bags. The first of it’s kind of service!

1890 The 1st Hotel School was established at Lausanne, Switzerland by J Schumi.

Starting Evolution of modern Hospitality Industry The 20th Century

  • Caesar Ritz ‘The Hotelier to the Kings & The King of Hoteliers’ burst on the scene. This Swiss national a legend, opened the Ritz at the Palace Vendome- that lovely hospitality complex mentioned earlier.
  • He would go on to build Ritz hotels IN Europe and the USA.
  • 1919- the Ritz Barcelona Spain had opened its doors to guests, the 1st hotel to offer hot & cold water facilities.
  • The 20th Century is referred to as the Age of Prosperity for Hoteliers. We shall see Why?
  • London saw the iconic Hotel Savoy opening its door to guests. Ski resorts in the mountains started to be built. St. Moritz being just one of them.
  • More & more people started traveling with hoteliers finding it difficult to keep up with the demand & expectations.

Chain Hotels and Impact of Major Events in 20th Century…

  • 1907- Ezra Statler opens the Buffalo Statler in Buffalo City, The USA.
  • By 1912- there were Statler hotels in Cleveland and Detroit.
  • Statler the pioneer of the Çhain hotels had arrived’ and set a trend.
  • 19-14 Europe was affected by World WarI but not the USA.
  • 1908-1927 Henry Ford rolled out the T model car using the assembly style of production which were low-cost maintenance free and versatile, though the hospitality industry had to wait till the end of World War II  for this invention’s benefits to significantly enrich their business.
  • 1930- The Great Depression in the USA halted all economic activity. yet, the Waldorf Astoria was commissioned. The First hotel to start & implement the Room Reservation System.

WWII and new demand for business hotels

1939- 1945- the World War II.

  • With their men at work, the women joined the work force in the manufacturing industry.
  • 1945- The men returned and were employed by the US government, the initiative of President Eisenhower, who had fought WWII. The soldiers who returned were engaged to build America’s roadways known today as the freeways.
  • The low-cost Ford car available and freeways to drive gave birth to the ‘Travelling Salesman’; who started in his car Monday morning to return Friday evenings living on the road five days a week.
  • Quick to make most of the opportunity, the hotel chains like Holiday Inn began pushing out the smaller motels out of business for the business yielded by the traffic on the freeways.
  • WWII saw the development of jet engines. Jet engines started powering the wide-bodied civilian planes. The Boeing 707 wide-bodied with a bigger carrying capacity and which could fly longer distances made the world smaller.
  • Hotels opened up in the Mediterranean, Spain & Yugoslavia as Americans flew for holidays abroad with the power of the US Dollar.
  • 1903 saw the Taj Mahal hotel Bombay opening its doors to guests. More luxurious hotels were built to cater to this increasing demand.

Rise of Indian Diaspora in the American Hotel Industry

  • Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai, and Sabir Bhatia. All well-known names. Leaders in their own right in the IT industry.
  • But a lesser-known name, and unfairly so – in the hospitality sector – is another Indian name.
  • Kanji Desai must be credited for his role in building the American hotel industry. He is widely credited as the first Gujarati hotel owner in America after taking over a 32-room property in Sacramento, California. in 1942. His initiative paved the way for the enterprising Gujarati Patel community to venture into the mid-segment & budget hotels and motels. Today, the Gujarati Indian diaspora own 1 in every 2 hotels in the USA.