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Chapter 6 Universal standards.


After reading this chapter you should be able to:

1. Recognize the importance that appropriate grooming and hygiene have for hospitality professionals.

2. Explain how we can agree on grooming guidelines in the hospitality industry, in which there are people from different countries and cultures.

3. Determine the main grooming and hygiene routines that are critical to create and maintain a professional appearance for hospitality professionals.

Most of us have probably had the experience of sitting or standing next to someone in public--on a bus or in line at the theater, for example--and being assailed by an unpleasant body odor. We ask (only to ourselves, of course) how could anyone leave their home without even minimal bathing? But the fact is that people do leave their homes for work and social engagements without performing basic grooming. It's also a fact that various cultures have differing standards concerning what constitutes basic grooming.

For example, soon after marrying my husband from Ohio, my in-laws came to visit us in Washington, D.C. After welcoming them into our new house, I asked them if they wanted to take a shower. My surprised husband blurted out, "Why? Do you think they are dirty?" After blushing with embarrassment, I understood that this custom from my native Colombia was not a custom here in the U.S. In Colombia, when your overnight guests arrive, they expect you to offer them a shower so they can freshen up after a usually hot and sweaty trip. In countries at or near the equator, taking a shower is considered a pleasant ritual necessary for comfort.

In contrast, there are cultures in which a bath or shower is deemed necessary only weekly or bi-weekly.

So, how do we agree on appropriate hygiene and grooming habits that will ensure that we present an impeccable professional appearance, regardless of our country of origin or whether we are uniformed or non-uniformed employees? The answer is by following the grooming guidelines that have been adopted by most hospitality organizations around the world as a way to provide quality service that is appreciated by all customers and guests--no matter where they are from. I invite you to use the following questionnaire for self-feedback. Let's see how your current grooming practices measure up to these international standards.

Answer the following questions with either "Yes" or "No". Give yourself a point for every "Yes" and add up your score. If you can't answer "Yes" to all the parts of the question, do not give yourself a point. When you find a question that does not apply to you, give yourself a point anyway, if your answer would theoretically be "Yes."


1. Is your hair clean, neat and in a conservative style?

2. If you color your hair, is the color a natural shade without tell-tale roots?

3. If your hair is longer than shoulder-length, is it pulled back neatly?

4. Do you check your shoulders for dandruff and regularly brush it off during the day?

5. Is your makeup well-blended and natural (not too bright or in frosted shades)? Note: If your job requires an elaborate makeup for the nightclub or disco, you may give yourself a point for bright or exaggerated makeup.

6. Are your nails short or of medium length (no longer than one-eighth to one-fourth inches at the tip)?

7. Is your nail polish freshly applied and not chipped?

8. Is your nail polish a light color? (Too bright colors include orange, purple and fuchsia.)

9. If you use cologne or perfume, do you use it sparingly?

10. Do you take a daily shower or bath, use a deodorant, brush and floss your teeth and rinse with mouthwash?


1. Is your hair clean, short (does not touch your shirt collar) and neatly combed?

2. Are nose and ear hair trimmed?

3. If you have a mustache or beard, are they well-trimmed? (Mustache not touching the upper lip?)

4. Do you check your shoulders for dandruff and regularly brush it off during the day?

5. Are your fingernails short and clean?

6. If you use cologne or after-shave lotion, do you use it sparingly?

7. Do you take a daily shower or bath, use a deodorant, brush and floss your teeth and rinse with mouthwash?

How did you score? If you are female and your score is ten or if you are male and your score is seven, congratulations! You follow the basic grooming elements needed to make an excellent impression each and every day.

If you answered "No" to any of the above questions, you may want to make some changes to ensure that your personal grooming elicits respect from your co-workers and customers.


The hospitality industry is a people business. We have daily face-to-face contact with our fellow employees, customers and suppliers. In this communication process, eye contact is one of the most powerful tools we have. For this reason, good grooming becomes an essential way to facilitate good communication. For example, we certainly don't want to be distracted from our duties by an unruly lock of hair falling in our face, and we certainly don't want our customers to be distracted by this either. Good grooming--be it of hair, body or face--keeps the focus where it belongs, on the business at hand.


For women, hair that is worn longer than shoulder length, is styled in an exaggerated fashion or is multicolored usually is a distraction. People will focus on your hair instead of what you are saying.

For men, beards and mustaches are tending to disappear in business. A clean face facilitates face-to-face communication with co-workers, customers and suppliers. Mary Spillane, an image consultant from England, writes in her book Presenting Yourself, A Professional Image Guide for Men: "Men who are clean-shaven have a better chance of getting a job, and being readily accepted in business." But you can bet that employers will never tell a person that the reason they didn't get hired was because of grooming issues like this one. Beards are used to cover facial imperfections and, if this is why you choose to wear one, it's a good idea to discuss this with the interviewer. You certainly do not need to justify your beard to others, though. You just have to pay extra attention to your grooming and dressing in order to present an impeccable appearance.


In the hospitality field, hands are our main tool of the trade. We serve our customers with both our words and our hands. Cleanliness, then, is a must for male and female employees, regardless of position. Female employees who wear nail polish should keep it freshly applied and chip-free. It is best to choose a light to medium shade that complements the color of your outfit or uniform. For example, if you wear a peach or golden tone uniform, pink nail polish will clash with it. Also, the color of your nail polish should blend with the color of your lipstick. Red lipstick and pink nail polish do not blend and would be distracting to your customer. Clear nail polish is probably the best choice for the professional female, whether she wears a uniform or regular clothes.


Fragrance can be either an asset or a liability to your professional image. After-shave lotions, cologne and perfumes must be used sparingly. One president of a large corporation took to climbing 17 flights of stairs to his office every morning. His employees thought this was part of his fitness routine, but they were wrong. As he put it, "I get sick when I get into the elevator at 8 o'clock in the morning with all those heavy fragrances." Many people are allergic to perfumes, so we must be considerate of our co-workers and customers. Your fragrance should not enter a room before you do, and it should not be there a week later!

Also know that scents can remind us of certain people and evoke emotional responses. One of my colleagues went to a meeting with the president of a company that was considering using her services as an image consultant. When she shook hands with the potential client, he said: "You smell just like my ex-wife." Probably not the best way to begin a sales meeting! While we may have to risk wearing the "wrong" fragrance (after all, how could my friend have known that her chosen perfume that day would stir old and presumably unpleasant memories), we can at least use it sparingly.

Simple, daily grooming routines provide the perfect foundation for our professional appearance and ensure that we proceed with confidence in all our business communications: a daily shower or bath with soap, a daily application of deodorant (reapply more frequently if your work causes you to sweat profusely), clean hands and tended nails, a light cologne or perfume and good oral hygiene will ensure that our bodies do not interfere with the quality of our service. In addition, a flattering and easy-to-care-for hair style and makeup will frame our faces and enhance essential eye-to-eye contact.


1. Name three reasons why we need standards for grooming and hygiene in hospitality.

2. List four basic hygiene and grooming routines that work as a foundation for a professional appearance.

3. Describe the appropriate use of makeup and nail polish for a professional appearance.

4. Name two reasons why fragrances should be used sparingly in the hospitality business.
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Article Details
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Author:Michael, Angie
Publication:Best Impressions in Hospitality
Article Type:Professional standards
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Chapter 5 Casual days in hospitality?
Next Article:Chapter 7 Wearing your uniform with class.

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