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Financial Pundits Predict Increase In Audits of Hotel Training Programs?!?


by Jim Hartigan
July 19, 2011

The big financial news last week was the addition of 157K new jobs in the month of June.  The financial pundits are now saying that the job growth – primarily driven by the service sector, which produced 130K of the reported new jobs last month – is an indication that the recovery has regained its footing.  Hoteliers have enjoyed a rebound in occupancy for some time now, and in fact 2011 has seen the return of ADR growth (albeit not as much as any of us wants yet!).  As I listened to the experts, the macro-economic story is becoming clearer to me and I think they are right.  The “soft patch” that we experienced here in the United States this spring was really the result of a couple of different phenomena.  Specifically:

  • Oil prices peaking near $115 a barrel in the spring, driving gasoline prices over $4.00 a gallon across the U.S. have since retreated by nearly 20% to the low/mid $90 range with gasoline prices dropping proportionately.
  • Supply chain disruptions caused by the earthquake in Japan in March.
  • Concerns over the economic stability in Europe, while not completely alleviated are dramatically reduced today from the levels of this past spring.

All of this is good news for hoteliers, but the other comment I found most interesting (made by Warren Buffet no less) was that the unemployment level in the U.S. is still high due to the lost construction jobs, primarily residential construction, and until housing rebounds - these jobs won’t return.

So what does all this have to do with hotel training programs?  A lot.  Many companies in the service sector today – and perhaps even your hotel - employ more people than they did 18 months ago.  With higher occupancy, while most hotels may not have returned to pre-downturn staffing levels – there are more team members on the payroll today than there were in early 2009.  That means more new team members needing training.  Also, as hotel occupancy returns to the 60%+ level, there will undoubtedly be increased “job movement” created by people moving from one job to another for advancement, etc.  All this new hiring and job change means one thing – lots of new people who need to develop a level of mastery in their new duties!

In the current economic environment, it’s difficult to not just throw team members into the fray and rely on the old OJT – On the Job Training.  But let’s face it, personally - has that ever worked for you?  The key is to audit your current training and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you’ve got the most efficient and effective educational experiences available to new hires, transfers, and promotions – helping them compress the time to mastery of the new skills that will make them successful in your organization.  Think AAA – Audit, Adjust, and Assessments.

1.  Audit – take inventory of your current training programs and manuals.  Dust them off and give them a critical review.  Are the processes and procedures the same today as when the material was created?  What’s changed?  Terminology?  Does the training tie to your hotel or management company’s Vision, Mission, or Values?  Did the material create the behaviors you wanted?

2.  Adjust – making the necessary updates to the material is your next step.  Establish clearly defined learning objectives and determine the best platform to deliver the training.  What type of knowledge are you trying to transfer to your team - facts, concepts, processes, principles, or procedures?  A mixture of all five?  What is the best method to transfer this knowledge, ensure it is retained, and, ultimately, change behavior?  Can you migrate portions of classroom content to an online eLearning platform?  Learning Management Systems (LMS) are more affordable than ever before and create an excellent platform to deliver team member knowledge in bite-sized chunks of time!

3.  Assessments – metrics are the key to any business and are the live-blood of the hotel business.  If you can’t count it, it doesn’t count.  How many hours will creation/modification of your training programs take?  How much will you need to invest and what will be the finished product?  How many hours of instructional design/development does it take to create 30 minutes of eLearning or 4 hours in the classroom?  How will you know that the learning objectives have been achieved?  How will you measure changes in behavior?  Most importantly – how will you measure the ROI of your efforts?

If the financial pundits are right and the recovery has regained its footing … we’re headed for a second leg up!  Sure, this second leg will likely be a slower one than the initial days of the recovery, but we’re starting from a better place this time.  Today, we can be much more confident that there won’t be a “double dip.”  Today, the growth in hotel revenues is coming from ADR gains – which raise customer expectations of your team.  Today, savvy hotel leaders know it’s time to reinvest in their greatest asset – their people.  Begin that investment the AAA way…today.

If you want to learn more, drop me a note at www.orgwide.com  Until next time remember, take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself.



About the Author:

Jim Hartigan, Chief Business Development Officer and Partner joined OrgWide Services, a Training/e-Learning, Communications, Surveys and Consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim’s last position was that of Senior Vice President – Global Brand Services where he provided strategic leadership and business development and support to the $22B enterprise of 10 brands and more than 3,400 hotels in 80 countries around the world. His team was responsible for ensuring excellence in system product quality, customer satisfaction, market research, brand management, media planning, and sustainability.
 
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Contact:

Jim Hartigan
Chief Business Development Officer & Partner
OrgWide Services
165 N. Main Street, Suite 202
Collierville, TN 38017
office: 901.850.8190  Ext. 230
mobile: 901.628.6586
jim.hartigan@orgwide.com
www.orgwide.com


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