Make time to train staff daily
24 FEBRUARY 2015 7:12 AM
Doing so reinforces the core principles of hospitality and service excellence.
Most hotel managers I speak with seem to always have it on their mental to-do list to conduct training when time allows. The problem is with our over-stuffed agenda these days there never seems to be an ideal time. Some wait for the “slow season,” which is ironic because the behaviors and techniques the training focuses on are needed most during periods of peak demand. Then when slow season does come around, people take vacation or we are required to cut hours to stay within budget formulas.
The best hospitality industry managers know that the ideal day for training is right now. They know that in the real world training needs to take in some form every shift, every day. Sure, it is nice when you can carve out time for a half-day workshop or to find the budget to bring in an outside trainer. Yet, much can be accomplished even in a minimal time frame.
Here are some suggestions:
- Select a training topic of the week or month. For ideas, look to the standards you have in place from your brand or from a hotel rating service such as Forbes or AAA. Or look to the standards from your guest surveys.
- Rotate the training theme so that all key standards are reinforced over time.
- If you (or someone on the team) has a creative flair, have them make up posters and displays on the theme of the month. Or use programs such as Microsoft Publisher, Powerpoint or even Word to create visual aids.
- Make sure supervisors and shift managers reinforce the standard in the workplace. When they observe the standards being used, they should provide positive reinforcement after a guest steps away. If not used they should treat it as a “coachable moment” to remind the colleague to use it next time.
- Have executive level managers quiz the frontline colleagues on the details of the current standard of focus, to provide on-the-spot demonstration or explanation. They can then reward them with small prizes such as lottery tickets or gift cards.
- Use smartphones to film funny skits of good/bad examples of the standard being used. Showing the bad examples makes it fun but also reinforces that there is in fact a right and wrong way of doing things.
Beyond reinforcing the standard of the week or month, here are other training ideas:
- Have colleagues create a special email account and form an Instagram group. Via this email list, share an article of the week on customer service then ask the colleagues to read it and share their comments about what they got out of it on Instagram.
- Use the same special email list to share links to funny (yet insightful) commercials such as can be found on YouTube. Or show these at pre-shift lineup meetings.
- Find other interesting postings on YouTube such as the United Breaks Guitars music video and corresponding postings about this incident, which provide great insight into how bad customer service can become negative public relations in today’s world of social media.
- Search YouTube for words such as “funny customer service” and “bad customer service” for other interesting videos that can be used as case studies.
- Ask participants to watch movies about travel and then to discuss what can be learned about guests’ expectations. One great example is the Chevy Chase Vacation series (although the first one does have some R-rated scenes, it is especially insightful as an example of the high and often unrealistic expectations guests have for their vacation time.)
- Using these resources, create trivia contests for your staff to test their knowledge of frequently asked questions about the hotel and the area that they should be able to answer as well as questions about information they should be able to pro-actively volunteer as recommendations.
By making time to train daily, you will continue to reinforce the core principles of hospitality and guest service excellence. Along the way you will be fostering a culture of continuous development that most employees will appreciate and find rewarding.
Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades. Since 1996, Doug’s monthly hotel industry training articles have been published worldwide, making him one of the most widely read hotel industry training writers. Visit KTN at www.kennedytrainingnetwork.com or email him directly.
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