Skills and Knowledge for Service Encounters in the Leisure Industry: Implications for UK Higher Education

Student thesis: Phd


As a Higher Education (HE) lecturer in the United Kingdom (UK), I have taught Leisure students and supported their transition into placement work and graduate employment. This experience has made it clear to me that some students and graduates are not fully equipped to deal with the extensive customer demands placed on them in the workplace. The aim of this study is to analyse the skills and knowledge needed by graduates from Leisure courses to deal with real-world customer service encounters. A theoretical framework on skills, knowledge, education frameworks and employer requirements was used to identify what graduates might need in industry work and this was tests by gaining primary data from Leisure graduates. Critical incidents were gathered and interviews were conducted with five recent graduates and one current student from Leisure courses in Manchester. The data includes 57 critical incidents related to customer demands that the participants faced during service encounters in leisure roles; it also includes six semi-structured interviews on whether the participants felt their education prepared them to meet these demands. This study analyses the data using a theoretical framework of current publications and includes the theories of Soft Skills, Co-creation, Co-production, Emotional Labour, Aesthetic Labour, Sexualised Labour, Intercultural Sensitivity and Service Quality Theory. This study uses an innovative methodology to identify three key findings in support of the research questions. Staffs to staff dynamics and Intercultural Sensitivity are needed in Customer Service Encounter theory to use in Leisure UK Higher Education and fully prepare students for encounters in their graduate employment. These findings offer extensive contributions to current knowledge on theory and leisure education in UK HE to support development of all skills and knowledge needed for customer service encounters. Recommendations are raised to the Quality Assurance Agency (education governing body) and other leisure educators on how they might better educate and prepare their students for customer service encounters in graduate employment.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMary Smith (Supervisor) & Richard Fay (Supervisor)


  • Service
  • Management
  • Events
  • Tourism
  • Service Encounters
  • Skills
  • Leisure
  • Higher Education
  • Knowledge

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