Interview with Jim Peters, President of the Responsible Hospitality Institute
Responsible hospitality can promote public safety, healthy businesses, and community development as Jim Peters explains.
Mr. Peters, would you please explain what the Responsible Hospitality Institute is and does?
Sure. The Responsible Hospitality Institute, or RHI, is a non-profit organization that promotes cooperation among those involved in hospitality, safety, and community development groups. To do this, it spawns informal alliances among these groups in communities across the United States. One of our accomplishments centers on the enhancement of a cafe society or lifestyle.
That sounds interesting. What do you hope to accomplish?
Social changes are redefining street life in America and there is a new interest in an urban lifestyle in neighborhoods with dining and entertainment. Aging "Baby Boomers" and the even larger cohort of younger adults want to live in an area that supports a vibrant social life. As a result, downtown and urban residential populations have increased dramatically
The chance to create more vibrant neighborhoods challenges urban planners and business district managers as they work to stimulate tourism, re-establish street life, and enhance quality of life. Demands on public services, government licensing and enforcement agencies, as well as potential conflicts with residents on noise, trash, public safety, parking, alcohol abuse, and traffic all increase. This is where our alliances, which we call Hospitality Resource Panels, are proving to be very helpful.
So you're doing much more than simply promoting responsible drinking...you're actually engaged in social change and the redevelopment of urban areas?
That's right... it's an exciting challenge. We find that there are "communities within communities" and while "common interests" exist there are often conflicts among the diverse communities. This can result in risks to public health or public safety, human rights, or a stalled economy.
We're working on the process of uniting the disparate "communities" to identify "common interests" within the collective group. In other words, finding unity in community.
Exactly what is the hospitality industry and how does it fit into community development?
People like to socialize with others, engage in conversation, and form relationships. Because it facilitates these needs, the hospitality industry is a vital part of any community, and includes many different types of businesses. Bars, restaurants, taverns, hotels, motels, convention centers, sporting arenas, country clubs, golf courses, night clubs, dance clubs, food service operations in colleges, at airports, schools, and shopping malls all compose the industry. Some sell or serve alcoholic beverages, and some do not. There are also those businesses providing the products and services to social hosts, including grocery stores, convenience stores, and package stores.
When combined, all businesses involved in the hospitality industry compose one of the nation's largest private sector employers.
More importantly, the industry creates many transitional jobs for special populations groups, including youth, young adults, immigrants, women in transition, and people with disabilities. Beyond the entry-level jobs provided to these populations, the hospitality industry offers rapid advancement to supervisory and managerial positions. It is among the industries expected to continue to grow and create more jobs into the future.
Providing jobs and improving safety in urban areas would appear to
be important in recreating vibrant downtowns. What are you doing to
The moment of contact between the host and the guest holds a great opportunity in the prevention of many health and safety risks, especially involving alcoholic beverages. The promotion of responsible hospitality promotes the development of safe communities and healthy businesses.
Historically, programs to combat underage drinking and abuse by adults have focused directly on the individual by attempting to alter their behavior through a combination of information, persuasion, and threat. More recently, the focus has been expanded to include the behavior of the people who serve them.
Public health and safety can be increased through the collective reduction or elimination of sales, service, or provision of alcoholic beverages to those who are underage, those providing to underage persons, and to intoxicated persons.
Could you elaborate on the latter point?
Yes, of course. There are more than 300,000 licensed beverage establishments in the United States, and on any given day there are millions of transactions where a server in a bar or restaurant, or a clerk in a package or grocery store serves someone an alcoholic beverage. Of all abuse prevention opportunities, the moment of contact between these two people represents one of the most important in the prevention of underage drinking, intoxication, and traffic accidents. That's why responsible beverage service training is so important and has proven to be so effective.
Where can people learn more about your activities?
I'm glad you asked. Our web site is www.hospitalityweb.org
Thanks for all the information, Mr. Peters
Jim Peters, President of the Responsible Hospitality Institute, can be reached at www.hospitalityweb.org
Filed Under: Health