The vacation industry in British Virgin Island (BVI) is developed into a profitable, but highly competitive market. One of the major players in the West Indies Yacht Club Resort (WIYCR), operates successfully since its inception in the late 1980s. However, recently some problems became alarming, seriously affect the operating performance of the resort. The investigation is needed. I, Patrick Dowd, am honor to be the investigator. The purpose of this report is to discuss the problems in the resort, why they exist, and the corresponding solutions.
Problems in the Resort
WIYCR is troubled with internal problems that started to affect its normal operation. Expatriate turnover rate is nearly high enough to be problematic; there is a three-fold increase in guest complaints recently; the relationship between expatriate and local staff is poor, and there appears to be low employee motivation.
Analysis of the Problems
In WIYCR, management team is divided into two parts: head office in Chicago and resort management in BVI. Due to the lack of sensitivity of the BVI vacation market, the Chicago office had over-booked the resort by 20 percent without telling the guests. Therefore, during the peak season the number of guests is much greater than the carrying capacity of the resort. There was no enough staff to serve the guest, even there were no enough rooms available for guests, so they had to stay on boats for a few nights until rooms become available. Complaints from guests are inevitable. Moreover, since the Chicago office continues its over-booking practice over the past 3 years, ignoring the opposition from the Rooms Division Manager and staff under the department. This partly contributes to the current low staff morale.
The structure of the resort is as follows: managers are mostly expatriates; while local staff works at lower-level positions. Their cultures are very different. Therefore, lack of cross-culture sensitivity is the other cause of the problems. Here I will use the model developed by Hofstede (1980) to analyze the cultural difference in the resort.
- Individualism / Collectivism
In the Caribbean culture, there is much more collectivism tendency because people are viewed largely in terms of the groups. The individualism is very low in the Caribbean, people are not concerned with personal accomplishments and career acceleration, they rather prefer to work in the group. The quality of time spent with family and friends is valued much more than money issues. This can be best illustrated by one local staff?¦s saying: ?§I?¦m just not interested in leaving my friends behind just to make a little more money.?? Normal working incentives such as job promotion and wage increase cannot motivate them. Also, they don?¦t to be the outsider of the group, don?¦t work harder than others because they are afraid of being discriminated by other locals. So, it is hard to push them to do better.
BVI's people have very strong power distance. In high power distance societies, people are expected to obey and show extreme respect for people with a higher position, but without close relations. Because of this, there is lack of decent communication between expatriates and local staff, misunderstanding is easy to happen, and this will cause tension between the two groups. Caused by misunderstanding, the relationship between local staff and expatriates is poor, but it is avoidable.
The Caribbean people have very high uncertainty avoidance. People in Caribbean do not like uncertainty; moreover they do not know how to deal with it and try to avoid any conflict that might lead to making any decisions. Since managers give vague instructions to local staff, there is a lot of uncertainty in working. They feel stressed about work. Therefore, they choose to avoid working, being lazy to minimize the stress of uncertainty. As a result, quality of services provided by locals is very poor, and this causes the current rising number of guest complaints.
BVI society is feminine. They are more caring, less aggressive, so they don?¦t pay too much effort in working, pursuing personal goals. They emphasize the quality of life and leisure, which differs greatly from the US?¦s, which most expatriates come from. In addition, they are not willing to have an additional workload by sacrificing time with family and friends. This is because they think working and with family cannot coexist. Therefore, generally, they are lack of working motivation.
Because of the poor organizational structure and lack of understanding of the unique culture characters in BVI society, a lot of problems which I discussed above are created, but they can be solved.
Generally speaking, my recommendations focus on three main areas: developing effective management; building team spirit; and implementing effective performance evaluation.
To build effective management, first we have to incorporate the existing management office in Chicago into the resort office in the site. By doing so, the resort will be more sensitive to the current market situation as the booking office is on the site. It can prevent over or under-booking to happen. Clear working instruction to local staff is also crucial to avoid any misunderstanding.
The second area is building team spirit. Specifically, building trust between expatriates and local employees. Firstly, culture orientation courses should be organized for both two groups, to let understand each other better. Secondly, closer relationship between them can be achieved by having informal gathering in low seasons. During the gathering, sharing sessions and joint activities can be organized.
Last but not least, the resort should implement an effective performance evaluation. Anonymous guest complaints or nominations can be carried out. For staff members who are blamed, besides wage cut, moving to less favorable work positions is also a penalty. For staff members who are appreciated by guests, in addition to wage increase, welfare on his/her family members can also be provided, such as a family discount on using facilities of resort. As locals valued their family much, their working motivation can be raised a lot.