ORLANDO, Fla., April, 30, 1998— According to the results of the 1997 Lodging Industry Training and Technology Study conducted by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Motel Association, hotel training budgets are expected to increase by 16 percent in the coming year, but critical planning for training is not yet a reality.
Last year was the “best year in history” for the hotel industry, and hotel training departments will reap some of the rewards of success, according to Michele Bailey DiMartino, vice president and director of the Center for Hospitality Research Solutions at the Educational Institute. Yet there are opportunities for better planning in spending training dollars.
“When times are good, there is less focus on training, because guests are coming in anyway,” said DiMartino. “Profits are not reinvested in human capital, but in tangible assets. The fact that budgeted training dollars are continuing to rise in spite of a good year indicates a growing respect for the impact of training on revenue, but there is still a long way to go in addressing the inequity between tangible and intangible investments.”
Nearly 950 major branded properties, primarily mid-price and first class, responded to the study survey, which was designed to identify current and future hospitality training practices, with an emphasis on CD-based technology and the Internet for employee training.
The study found that decisions for purchasing training products are most often made at the property level (76.6 percent) by the general manager (65.5 percent).
“Surprisingly,” said DiMartino, “the study shows that general managers are most often responsible for training employees (37.8 percent), followed by supervisors (18.2 percent) and human resource managers (16 percent). “Not shocking,” she continued, “is the finding that most decisions regarding training and development resource purchases are made ‘when the need arises’ (77.9 percent) rather than through well-organized planning.
“This ‘as-needed’ approach to training speaks volumes to the standing of human capital investment on hoteliers’ list of fiscal priorities,” said DiMartino. Only a small percentage of respondents made purchases systematically--at the beginning of the fiscal year, annually, quarterly, or monthly.
“Our results seem to show that despite all the talk in the industry about the importance of training, it is not something that properties plan for,” DiMartino commented. Only 37 percent of properties surveyed identified training as a line item in their annual budget.
The study also explored the role of technology in hospitality training. More than 68 percent of properties surveyed have at least one computer with CD-ROM capability and 45 percent use CD-ROM for employee training. The most common training topics using CD-ROM technology are front office check-in/check-out and reservations.
“Many companies purchased computerized reservations and property management systems in 1998 and are using CD-ROM interactive training modules to train their employees on the new systems,” said DiMartino.
Only 4.1 percent of those surveyed currently use the Internet for training, although nearly 58 percent have access to the Internet. That figure is sure to increase dramatically as more hotels discover the greatly improved accessibility, quality, and cost-effectiveness of training delivered via the Internet, for instance through the Educational Institute’s new EI Hospitality Network.
“Based on anecdotal information and other studies projecting future Internet usage, a significant proportion of the properties that don’t currently have CD-ROM will most likely skip over CD technology and go straight to web-based training in the near future,” noted DiMartino.
For more information on the 1997 Lodging Industry Training and Technology
Study, contact the Center for Hospitality Research Solutions at 407-999-8100.
Established in 1953 as a nonprofit educational foundation of AH&MA, the Educational Institute is the world’s largest hospitality communication resource center, providing quality training and educational materials for the hospitality industry.