Hotel Online  Special Report
Attitude vs Aptitude

Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson, June 2001

One dictionary defines aptitude as “natural tendency or talent; ability."  The same dictionary defines attitude as “a way of thinking, acting, or feeling."   I interpret this to mean that aptitude enables a person to  perform a task while attitude  determines how well the person performs that task.  Which is more important?  Is one more important than the other? 
Can a hotel employee with great aptitude, but a poor attitude provide superior guest service?  Absolutely.  The more pertinent question is: will that employee consistently provide the level of service you want and  your guests deserve?  Probably not.   Can 
Ask Harry and Cheryl
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the poor attitude sometimes adversely affect job performance?  Absolutely. 

What about the opposite?  Can a positive attitude compensate for less aptitude?   I think it can,  at least partially.  As a “professional guest,"  I am far more tolerant of a genuinely cordial and guest-oriented employee  who may not be a technical wizard than I am of the super efficient desk clerk who does not smile, or even look at me during check in.  Surveys indicate that many of your guests share my tolerance.

A prospective employee’s aptitude is often tested as part of the recruitment and hiring process. What about attitude after the applicant is employed and dealing with your guests every day? 

How can you assess your employees’ attitude?  What can you do about poor attitude?  In my opinion,  assuring that communication channels are always open is an excellent way to evaluate your staff’s attitude.  The communication must be two-way.  If you keep your employees informed and make them feel comfortable in keeping you informed,  you can more accurately assess their attitude.   I do not suggest “gripe” sessions as I do not think they are productive.  I suggest property-wide discussion  or focus groups.  The groups should be small enough to permit and encourage maximum participation. 

A suggestion program is another way to get feedback from your staff.  You can tell a lot about attitude from suggestions and comments.  I do recommend that all suggestions received be answered.  An unanswered suggestion can send the message that management is not really serious and just going through the motions. 

I also think you should reward suggestions that are adopted, and explain why others cannot be implemented.

Mystery shopping can also help you assess employee attitude.  Experienced  and insightful shoppers can tell you a lot about how employees are interacting with your guests, and what attitude they are projecting.  Mystery shopping can also
identify employees who merit positive recognition.  This can be a significant factor in your overall program of rewarding and reinforcing positive attitude.

If  you identify the existence of poor attitude at your property, there are some things you do to correct the problem.  Some suggestions  next time.  Please contact us if you have comments or questions.


Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting
POC:  Harry Nobles
Phone:  757-564-3761
Fax:        757-564-0076


  • Former head of AAA Lodging/Dining Ratings Program. 
  • An independent consultant serving the hospitality industry. 
  • A Special Training Consultant to the Educational Institute, American Hotel/Motel Association
Also See: Female Business Travelers' Expectations / June 2001
Is Outsourcing Your Training a Viable Alternative? / June 2001
Unique Identity + Consistent Service = Success / May 2001
AAA Standards vs  Guests' Expectations / May 2001
Are Your Guests Better Informed Than Your Staff? / April 2001
Are U.S. Hotels Rated Differently From Other North American Hotels? / April 2001
The Design Theme - AAA / Mobil Ratings Connection / March 2001
Attitude Can Make the Difference / January 2001
How Should Casino-Hotels be Rated? / Dec 2000
Does AAA Rate Resorts Fairly? / Nov 2000
Is Your Property Suffering From Design Deficiency? / Nov 2000 
The Future of AAA Ratings / September 2000
What Is Your Optimum AAA Rating / August 2000
If You Disagree With Your AAA Rating…../ June 2000
Are AAA Ratings Always Accurate and Objective / May 2000
Creating Atmosphere / Jan 2000
What is "Atmosphere"? / December 1999
Maintaining Your AAA Rating / Nov 1999
Earning a AAA Rating vs Maintaining a AAA Rating: Which Is More Difficult?  / Oct 1999
Can Outstanding Service Offset Hotel Physical Deficiencies in the Rating Systems? / Harry Nobles / June 1999 
Consistency: The Hallmark of a Fine Hotel / September 1999
Who Should Train Your Employees  / Aug 2000 
Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998 
Key to Success: Training + Follow-Up / June 2000
The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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