|by Robert Duprey, November 2005
Increasingly intense competition, high customer expectations and retaining quality employees are challenges almost every hotelier faces. One of the best ways to address these challenges is through consistent delivery and assessment of your employee training program.
Unfortunately, the demands of operating a 24/7 business, time and scheduling constraints and high employee turnover all present challenges and obstacles to delivering training effectively and consistently.
What about interactive training (eLearning)?
Using a computer to deliver training is obviously not a new concept, and there have been many ways to describe it in recent years…
But the hospitality business is all about people, not technology- right?
Whilst there are increasing numbers of success stories, eLearning has yet to catch on in the Hotel Industry to the extent it has in other sectors like Finance and IT. One argument is that the hospitality business is a people business. Very true, but a large percentage of ‘people’ that make up your hotel staff belong to the ‘Nintendo Generation’. They do not want to learn from an authority figure standing in front of them. They are comfortable in front of a PC, and want to explore and progress at their own pace. They want to do this at a time that suits them, in an environment they are comfortable with. This is a tough audience to capture, and the training experience has to be engaging, fast, colorful, player driven, challenging and fun.
Another argument is that you can’t use a computer to teach 'people skills', it must be experienced firsthand. Well that is also true, to a point. eLearning should never totally replace practical live training experience, especially for customer facing roles. But a well written course can effectively deliver the theory behind your service philosophy along with procedure and policy. This approach is ideal for ensuring a base level of understanding for a group of employees with varying knowledge and skill levels, before they interact with your customers or a live training event. One example is to provide a customer care and service policy orientation, then practice what is learned with a group in a live role play session.
eLearning is well suited to a variety of training uses, which we will explore in greater detail in another article.
eLearning can help you overcome major training challenges
No training department? If you are an independently owned or single unit operator that does not have the time, money or expertise to deliver training courses, eLearning will deliver the training for you, effectively and consistently.
Multiple locations? If you are a multi-unit chain or franchise with geographically dispersed employees, you can use a network to deliver the training everywhere at the same time.
High turnover or seasonal staffing? The hotel industry has had an issue with high turnover for a long time. So why should you spend time and money on training when staff are going to leave anyway? This argument can lead to a vicious cycle of poor performance and customer service, then job dissatisfaction which leads to higher turnover. With eLearning you can provide just in time training to new staff, or refresher training to existing staff as and when required, whilst actually reducing training costs. The more people you train, the lower the per head training costs.
Short on Time? What about scheduling and logistics, do you ever find this to be an obstacle to training delivery? Hotels are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. eLearning is available to meet the demands of a 24/7 business. Staff can be trained as and when required, new hires can be trained the day they start. With eLearning, you can deliver training 'Just in Time', so your staff can learn in 'bite size chunks', eliminating the need to be away from work for extended periods.
Studies have shown that training time can be reduced 30-70% compared to traditional training methods, whilst eliminating the typical costs incurred paying for the time, travel and associated with training courses.
How eLearning works
Instead of attending training sessions, reading manuals, or watching
a video, your staff interact with a course on a computer.
Pre and post assessments automatically test, score and records training results, saving the time and space associated with paper based records.
Sounds great, but does it really work?
To measure effectiveness, trainees can be given a pre and post course assessment. The programs automatically assess and record scores as the test is taken, eliminating the need to spend additional time testing , grading, and compiling results by hand. Reports and records can be generated from data stored on the PC, or accessed from remote sites, eliminating the time and space required for paper based records. Another benefit of a pre-assessment is that based on the results, the course can be customized to deliver only the information that is required for each individual. So, a new-hire that has already worked in hospitality and understands the topic can progress quickly or opt out of some material, saving time and getting them on the job faster.
"Good teaching is good teaching, no matter how it's done."
The old adage still rings true, and eLearning brings with it new opportunities for the Hotel industry to educate and motivate your workforce.
In almost every area eLearning is well suited to support the dynamics of the hotel industry. It is delivered in a format that a large proportion of your ‘audience’ will be comfortable with. The courses are available 24/7, so new employees can learn on any shift, or at home if they desire. Information can be changed and updated quickly, to accommodate new policies or product and service offerings. Updates can be communicated instantly to a wide geographic base, from a central source.
Robert Duprey has over 22 years management and training experience in the Restaurant and Hotel industry. He started Lexington Interactive to develop eLearning specifically for the Restaurant & Hotel Industry. The company is developing a catalog of interactive hotel and restaurant training courses for the video game generation. Contact Robert at: firstname.lastname@example.org