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Methodology

The chapter contains describes the design and research methodology implemented in evaluating the human resource management improvement in Sporthotel Kostmann. The method employed is expected to bring out the method that the hotel will institute to improve profit owing to the fact of the fluctuation levels of tourist received in this hotel impede consistent revenue generation in the hotel.

Research Method and Design

The study focused in investigating how to improve two major areas: human resource management optimization and marketing strategies. Human resource management optimization is a core factor in determining the levels of returns that the company is going to achieve. The strictness of taxation policy, and the fluctuation of tourist due to weather influence leaves the hotel vulnerable to economic crises unless proper mechanism areas laid down to reduce the cost. The hotel has also to revisit measures and strategies how they will reduce fluctuation of tourist visiting the hotel irrespective of climatic cycles. The study will incorporate both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Burns and Grove, 2005, identify quantitative research as one that focuses on numerical and statistical information to draw a correlation between the variables being evaluated. On the other hand qualitative study involves analysis of text data to come up with the relation between the concepts being evaluated. A combination of these two studies approaches will maximize the possibility of arriving at a more valid and reliable results.

The research design employed was non experimental descriptive study. This will involve conducting of a exploration of factors that are inclined to the topic. The choice of the study design was motivated by the fact that non-experimental studies design tend to take less time, reduce ethical conflicts and able to relate theories with the data collected. Descriptive study help in excavating details in deep hence reinforcing the available theories developed on the areas under evaluation.

Study Site

The study was conducted in a family-led 4 star Sporthotel Kostmann, locate in Bad kleinkirchheim in Austria. Bad Kleinkirchheim one of the areas that are affected by the seasonality of the weather, experiencing all the four cycle; that is autumn, winter, spring, and summer. Consequently, many tourists are received during the summer and the winter seasons as these two seasons favors sporting activities.

Sampling

The study used a combination of cluster and systematic simple random sampling technique to arrive at the expected number of respondents. Respondents were grouped into different categories (clusters) depending with their line of duties i.e. management teams, attendants, casuals and tourist (visitors). 

Data Collection Procedure

Data was gathered from varied literature source including the official website of the hotel. The aim of intensive data search was to ensure that adequate information regarding the past performance of the hotel were availed for comparison. This would ensure that a conclusive systematic analysis is drawn; thus, reliable results and feasible recommendations drafted. To reinforce this data, questionnaire was used to collect data from the study subjects. Questionnaires were the primary technique used to collect quantitative data. The instrument contained both structured and unstructured questions in order to obtain optimum information. The structure of the questionnaires composed of different format that included; multiple choices, asking either for one option or all that are applicable, dichotomous questions, likert scale questions and open ended question. Questionnaires were preferred since they enable a researcher to collect enough information regarding a topic and in the same time gathering wide range of information from different people. This ensures that biasness is dissolved thus enhancing validity.  The study tool was appropriate as it enabled the researcher to sample a big population and it also ensured confidentiality. It was also appropriate as the study subjects were knowledgeable and were familiar with the tools. The selected respondents were offered with questionnaires and appropriate time frame was allowed for the respondents to satisfactorily fill the questionnaires and return them to the researcher the same day.

Study Variables

The study variables that guided the researcher in conducting the study included the following.

Dependent variables: optimizing profits

Independent variables: number of employees, number of tourist, mode of employment, season, , and tourism activities.

Data Management and Analysis

The data gathered was processed in a stepwise approach, which began by data cleaning to ensure all incomplete questionnaires were not analyzed. They were coded or categorized for easy handling. The results obtained were presented using descriptive statistics that was in percentage table, pie chart and bar graphs for easy interpretation. The analyzed data was then presented inform of a narrative to facilitate easy discussion, conclusion and drawing up feasible recommendations.

Study Limitations

The major limitation for the study was time. To be able to collect data that would be reliable and valid, the study required ample time. Cost was another limitation to this study. To cater for these limitations, a sample size that was cost effective, time conscious and easily accessible was selected.

Validity and Reliability

To ensure that the instruments are valid, that they will measure what they are claimed to measure, the researcher will depend a lot on consultations from the supervisor. The supervisor will examine the contents and indicate the degree to which the instruments can gather the intended information. To enhance generalization of result the researcher will use a good number of respondents. The combination of both the quantitative and qualitative methods of study will also play a major role in dissolving threats to validity.

Ethical Consideration

Permission to conduct the research was obtained from the College authorities. The request for reviews form will be formulated providing information on main researcher, the study tittle, problem under investigation, the budget of the study and the source of funds and finally the number of respondents required for the study.  The approval letter obtained was presented to the hotel management and consent to continue will the study in their premises was sort. After being granted permission, by the authorities to carry out the study, the researcher moved on to seek consent from the targeted respondents. The participants were explained the purpose of the study and their role in the study. The confidentiality, privacy and integrity of the respondents and all participants were highly observed. Anonymity of the respondents was preserved by using numerical codes as identifier of the questionnaires other than their names. The information collected was confidential. No names were mentioned and feedback was given after the results were analyzed.

Results/Findings

In the tourism industry, seasonality is a major issue that has a great impact on the hotels (Austria 2012). Commonly, seasonality is dictated by the weather conditions. These weather condition cause chronological instability in the volume of tourism. The volume of tourism is viewed from a perspective of the number of tourists that visited, bed nights, and occupancy rates. SporthotelKostmann hotel experiences high number of tourists during summer and the winter periods. During the off-season period, that is, spring and autumn, the visitors lack interesting activities because the weather is unattractive. During the off-season period, the hotel operates at an average utilization of approximately 40% (Smeral 2008).  Globally, seasonality is a major challenge for the tourism industry. SporthotelKostmann experiences significant oscillations during the weekends. It is clear that most f the tourists opt spending their weekends in the mountains. Commonly, the local people elevate the guest volume thus increasing utilization to an approximate of 80% in the hotel (Best in class.com 2012).

In many countries, seasonality is a distinctive feature that is usually viewed as problem. In most of these countries, significant efforts have been made in order to inhibit seasonal tourism. Seasonal tourism has certain negative effects on the tourism industry. It causes minimum income on investments. Tourism hotel rely on the number of tourists in order to make significant profits. It is clear that the volume of visitors is highly affected by the weather conditions. Therefore, unattractive weather conditions cause low volume of guest in the hotels. In off-season periods, hotels collect minimum capital from the few visitors. The hotels experience challenge in accessing money due to the limited number of visitors. The hotels require a lot of capital in order to maintain them. Lack of capital in the hotels has detrimental effects on their productivity. However, local people boost the capital of hotels during the weekends. Mostly, the local people spend their weekends in the hotels perfuming interesting activities such as hiking, riding horses, and mountain biking. During the on-seasons, the hotels make significant profit because of the large volumes of visitors. The on-season period is characterized by the attractive weather conditions. In an instance, the SporthotelKostmann hotel experiences large volume of visitors during the summer and autumn seasons. The hotel carries numerous visitors who are highly interested in activities such as mountain riding, skiing in the winter, swimming in the lake during summer, and hiking. At this period of the year, SporthotelKostmann receives many people in form of couples and families seeking adventurous moments.

Still, seasonality makes it challenging for the hotels to sustain their employees (Castand & Wesbrown 2005). Minimum profits made by the hotels makes it hard to pay the employees good wages. During off-season, the hotels are prone to making significant losses. High tax rates in countries especially Australia, also oblige hotels to reduce the number of employees. The hotels are expected to reduce the number of employees according to the volume of the visitors. A minimum number of tourists in a hotel for a prolonged period can not manage to cater for the wages of the employees. The hotels embark on a comprehensive planning of the employees’ contracts based on visitor prediction in order to inhibit the vice of seasonal visitors. Moreover, the hotels also consider employing part-time employees. Part-time employees are suitable during the weekends to serve the local visitors who frequent the hotels in off-season. The hotels rarely employ an enormous number of permanent employees due to the unpredictability of the market. It is clear that seasonality has a great effect on the productivity of the hotels. The volume of the guests keeps varying depending on the unstable weather conditions. During the on-season, the hotels make maximum utilization in order to make significant profits. They require a higher number of employees than the off-season period in order to serve the numerous visitors effectively. The hotels make significant returns on the investments. In the tourism, seasonal visitors cause overuse and underuse of the hotels. During the off-season, there are very few visitors in the hotels thus causing under utilization of their resources. The hotels lack consumers of their products such as food stuff and drinks. They fail to make considerable profits. As earlier mentioned, the utilization of the hotels during the low season could be below 50%. Therefore, the hotels have to cut certain expenses to avoid losses (eurostat.com 2010).

On the other hand, the high season period overwhelms the hotels (Yan 2009). There are numerous visitors who come to spend quality tie in the hotels. During this period, the resources in the hotels are usually overused. The equipment used to perform certain activities could become limited for the enormous number of the visitors. The hotels also have to ensure that food and drink are enough to satisfy the visitors. Lack of adequate foodstuff and drinks could drive the visitors away from the hotels. In such a case, the hotel experiences huge losses due to lack of consumers. Globally, the climatic changes have a significant contribution to the seasonality of the visitors. These seasons match up with variations in temperature, sunshine, and precipitation. The climatic changes also affect the hours of daylight. There are other reasons that cause seasonal visitors, but climate changes highly alter the volume of visitors in the hotels. Commonly, the productivity of tourism is based on the four seasons. Each of the seasons portrays different weather conditions that determine the suitability of tourist activities.

During summer, the tourists commonly engage in activities such as swimming, hiking, and horse riding (Castand & Wesbrown 2005). It is usually a warm period especially for swimming in the cold water of the lake. In the winter period, tourists enjoy skiing in the cold snow. It is usually cold and there is a lot of now especially on the mountains. Hotels that are situated in areas that have natural scenery such as the mountains, lakes, and a forest are significantly frequented by the visitors. Tourists are highly fascinated by the activities that revolve around the natural sceneries. In an instance, SporthotelKostmann hotel is located in a town that is in the southern Austrian Alps. The tourists that frequent in these hotels enjoy the experience of skiing. They also enjoy swimming during summer period in a lake that is nearby. These tourists facilitate a great economic expansion to the hotel. In order to overcome the negative effects of seasonality in tourism, it is important to take certain measures. Initially, it is the goal of every hotel to attract large number of tourists. They should be capable of attracting the visitors in order to create profitability. Tourists require spacious and cosy hotel rooms in order to enjoy their visit. It is important to construct a beautiful hotel with adequately spacious rooms that could hold large number of tourists. These spacious rooms in the hotel need to be adequate enough to avoid congestion. The hotels should highly maintain the physical conditions of the hotel in order to attract the customers. In an instance, SporthotelKostmann hotel expanded its physical appearance by adding the number of rooms in order to accommodate their tourists effectively. The hotel was entirely renovated by adding extra room areas that could satisfy the needs of the visitors. The hotel’s management included a function room that could hold meetings and a parking area for the visitors. It is important to form a favourable environment for the visitors in order to create a good reputation among the tourists. Seasonality in the tourism industry contributes to an irregular loading on facilities. As earlier stated, hotels are expanded significantly by constructing huge and numerous rooms to accommodate a large volume of tourists.

Consequently, these rooms are not used and are unproductive for prolonged periods during the year (Sporthotel Kostmann 2008). It is evident that the hotels encounter huge losses during this period. The hotels’ management has to maintain these rooms even though they are not in use. Other hotels opt to engage these rooms in activities that are not related to tourism during the non-tourist period. Seasonality is a major concern that people in the tourism industry have failed to ignore. There are numerous measures that people have taken to inhibit the problem of seasonality. The tourism industry has embarked on lengthening the chief season of visitation. Lengthening the tourism season would boost the profitability of the hotels. Clearly, the tourist would spend a long period in the hotels thus boosting their economic status. Still, the hotels could invest on other forms of attraction that fascinate the visitors. The hotels should not dwell on similar activities in order to break monotony. The visitors would seek other adventurous locations thus abandoning the hotel. The hotels should strive on sustaining and boosting the volume of the visitors. In order to reduce seasonality, the hotels should diversify and expand their markets. They should attract all kinds of people from different originalities. The staff in the hotels should be highly knowledgeable on the different language in order to accommodate different people. A tourist hotel should accommodate all individuals in terms of language interaction, cuisines, and hospitality. It is vital to acknowledge the importance of each visitor in the hotel. The hotel should also offer other services apart from the regular services.

The hotels could also get at greater lengths of entertaining their visitors especially during the offseason period (Smeral 2008). They could introduce particular festivals and special events to attract the visitors. During special occasions, such as festivals the local residents attend in large numbers. Commonly, they invite other people to attend these festivals especially during the weekends for entertainment. The hotels gain significant returns particularly when the occasion is prolonged. The festival could occur during the entire weekend. Most of the visitors spend their time in the hotels the whole period. The hotels should frequent different festival and special events in order to sustain large number of local visitors. The hotels should take advantage of the incredible holiday period the spread domestic tourism. Primarily, the hotels should attract the people that resident of the area. They should take a prolonged period to market their services and products to the people in the area. The local residents are capable of frequenting the hotels during the on-season and offseason of tourism. They highly contribute to the economic growth of the hotels. The local residents have a higher rate of visitation than foreign visits because of suitability of the period. As mentioned earlier, the foreign visitors visit the tourism sites based on the appropriateness of the weather conditions. The local residents frequent these hotels any time of the year. The tourist hotels could offer economic incentives through pricing and degree of difference in taxation. In tourism, both parties seek for a particular level satisfaction. The hotel should strive at meeting the needs of the visitors in order to maximise n their satisfaction. The visitors frequents at a hotel because the services offered were satisfactory. The visitors pay a particular price for their comfort in the hotel. Therefore, the hotel is obliged to serve the visitor as expected.

On the other hand, the visitor should conform to the conditions of the hotel. It is clear that the hotel’s main goal is performing effective business t boost its economic growth. The visitors are obliged to paying for the services offered at the hotel at their worth. The hotels invest on the tourism business with large funds. They strive towards attaining the returns of the investment. The visitors should also handle the hotel’s equipment carefully to avoid any losses incurred by the damages. In these areas of origin of visitors certain modifications such as changes in tastes and increased holidays have also helped in addressing seasonality. Additional holidays in these countries have increased the visitation rates of people in the tourist hotels. Moreover, change in preferences among the visitors has also altered the volume of visitors in the hotels. Therefore, the problem of seasonality is a factor that has significantly affected the tourism industry.                                                                    

Conclusion

Seasonality remains a key problem in management of tourism (Smeral 2008). Some seasons favour tourism while others hinder success. Tourism the world over depends highly on weather. Some seasons prove not favourable for tourism while others are. At Sporthotel Kostmann, the effect of weather and seasonality is huge, and the success recorded at this hotel is dependent on the nature of the weather and time of the year. Weather is dictated by the time of the year, and therefore, it i can be concluded that the major hindrance or boost for tourism in any part of the world is the weather. In essence, the weather conditions are likely to cause some stability in the management of hotel, and essentially, in the volume of tourism.

It is not easy to control weather, and this is because weather is determined by a number of compounding issues. Mostly, weather changes are a must in the world and there is no way that management of a company would anticipate stable weather condition. On this regard therefore, it is important for the management to always anticipate that weather conditions change at any time. However, there are seasons or times of the year when weather is bad or good for tourism. During good weather, the hotel industry takes maximum benefits, and while the weather is bad or when the season is not good, the hotel industry is highly disadvantaged.

In this discussion, the seasons have been categorized into two, namely, on-seasons and off-seasons. The on-season times are those period when the weather conditions are favourable for the management of the hotel industry, and essentially, when the weather is attractive for large in-flow of tourists. On the other hand, the off-season times are those periods in the year when the weather is extremely bad, and during this time, the hotel industry suffers greatly. This is because the in-flow of tourists is low.

SporthotelKostmann hotel is in the Southern part of Australia, and the tourists who come to this hotel enjoy skiing (Eagles 2010). There is also swimming in a nearby lake. Since it is a goal for any hotel to record high volume of tourists, it is very important for this hotel to take considerable measures to handle negative effects of the off-season issue. More importantly, when the tourists come to this hotel, they always wish to make maximum benefit of prevailing good environment and hotel condition. It is on this basis that this hotel should be able to accommodate the large volume that comes during the off-season and try to subsidize negative effects during the off-season periods.

As a way of taking maximum benefits during the on-seasons, the management of the hotel should expand facilities and maintain the physical conditions of the hotel. Such includes adding hotel rooms to accommodate the high number of tourists during the on-season period, and the economic gain that comes during such a time would compensate for the low volume of tourists that is recorded during the off-season period (Yan 2009).  The summer times of the years are most favourable for the tourists coming to this hotel. This is because during this time, activities such as horse riding, hiking and swimming are effective. Expanding these services for the tourists would prove worth because the hotel would reap maximally and compensate for the loss that comes during winter seasons.

It is still possible for the hotel management to make use of the off-season periods. It is possible for this hotel to change conditions and facilities so as to accommodate visitors during cold seasons. If the rooms are to be spacious and well conditioned, and if there are good facilities that can give comfort to the tourists during the off-season period, then, the management of the hotel is assured of reaping some gains even during the off-season periods.

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