Why Looking Good is Important in the Hotel Industry

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ goes the famous proverb. The reality is that a book is almost always judged by its cover. But perhaps no one has ever told you why. Here are some reasons why you could be making a big mistake if you don’t take your appearance seriously in the hotel industry.

First off, did you know that 93% of all communication is non-verbal?

This means that books are judged by their covers. Let’s break this statistic down further. Dr. Albert Mehrabian, who came to this conclusion after many studies on the subject, found that only 7% of any communication is conveyed through words. Where does the remaining 93% go?

  • 55 % goes to body language like gestures, postures, facial expressions and so on
  • 38% goes to vocal elements like tone of voice, modulation, pauses and so on

The hard truth is that we unconsciously send out messages all the time through our appearance and attitude. We must be aware of the messages we give our customers, but the reasons why etiquette and grooming are so important go beyond just making a good first impression.


How does it feel to be greeted with a smile when you enter a hotel or restaurant? If you know how it feels, you know what etiquette is. To keep it very simple, etiquette simply means manners. Everyone knows manners are important, but there are two key areas where they count even more.

Etiquette in the Selection Process

Did you know that major employers in the industry select their candidates based on their etiquette or soft skills more than their technical know-how?

The 26/11 attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai is an excellent example that shows how favouring etiquette over knowledge in the selection process realizes the motto of true customer-centered service. The employees on duty that night knew all the backdoor routes to escape from the hotel. Yet, when the terrorists entered, all of them stayed back to help the hotel guests escape or stay safe in their rooms. The receptionists on duty made calls to each room and instructed the guests on how they could lock their rooms from the inside. This example, although an extreme one, goes to show how employees with etiquette & training can make a difference to the organization.

Etiquette in Management

Etiquette plays an even more important role not just in selection, but in day-to-day business. Today’s world offers choices to customers like never before. What brings a customer back to a restaurant or hotel is employees who are polite and responsive to customer needs. In fact, product and service go hand-in-hand to make the total customer experience satisfying.

From a customer’s point of view, an employee’s soft skills reflect not the individual, but the brand. Research has shown that the same applies to grooming, or ‘aesthetic skills’.


Although Mehrabian’s estimate of non-verbal communication does not overtly mention dressing style or clothes, it’s no secret that the way you dress does matter. After all, you don’t want all your hard work to be thrown out of the window because of your scruffy hair or crumpled shirt. The way you dress should enhance the service or product you offer.

What are some of the main areas employers focus on?

  • Attire: Generally, most organizations have a dress code or a uniform. This depends a lot on the brand image they want to give their customers. Think about the difference between employees at a fast food restaurant and those at a reputed hotel chain like Taj. There needs to be consistency in dress code/uniform and the message the brand wants to convey.
  • Hair: There’s nothing hair-raising about the fact that hair needs to be trimmed and well-kept. For men, a clean-shaven look or a neatly trimmed beard is acceptable. If they have long hair, it should be tied back neatly. Women also need to ensure their hair is well-groomed and tied. Norms vary across organizations, so it’s a good idea to be aware of the standards.
  • Accessories and Tattoos: Accessories should fall in line with an organization’s dress code, and the general rule is that flashy stuff is out. Tattoos should be discreet. Accessories and tattoos carry marks of a person’s individuality. No one is saying that you should compromise on your identity, but it’s important to express it in a socially acceptable manner.

A survey of 100 human resource personnel in the USA 1 showed that the two most important criteria they look for when interviewing an entry-level candidate are a pleasant attitude and attention to good appearance.

Thus, grooming, politeness and empathy play a strategic role at every level in the hotel industry. The way an employee dresses and behaves has become part of the brand image. The focus is the customer, so employers look for candidates who can handle a customer’s needs and convey a lasting image of their brand through consistent, overall presentation. We at AIMS Institutes train students in international hospitality standards with the AIMS- ALMA Dual Degree programme. Enquire with us for further details today.