The Secret to a Stellar Staff: New Approaches to Testing, Training, and Coaching

By Kyle Rogg President & COO, Value Place | July 13, 2014

In hospitality, our greatest asset can also be our most powerful threat. The hallmark of every respected hotel has always been its personnel; it's the empathy, the personal touch, the sunny disposition, and the individual commitment to creating a superior guest experience that differentiate a brand and earn customer loyalty. In today's world, customer experiences, both good and bad, can be shared virally in an instant, and the success of every hotel hinges on the delivery of effective customer service.

If your hotel is like most, now is the time to refocus your staff by taking a hard look at your employee training methods. Today the industry faces a consistently high turnover rate of 48.36 percent that can negatively impact customer-facing interactions, create inconsistencies in operations, and waste both company time and revenue when training and retraining staff. A revitalized employee preparation program, designed to not only teach personnel how to exceed every guest expectation, but also to become a living, breathing embodiment of your brand and take ownership for their role in the company's success, can cut turnover and foster a community of staff and managers that will win over the hearts of every guest.

Here are some of the novel strategies from our own front lines that have transformed our employee testing, training and coaching programs, and helped us achieve new levels of quality, consistency and performance.

Acknowledging that Every Employee Matters

Managers are the lifeblood of any hotel, playing a pivotal role in the success or failure of a property, and act as the first line of defense in fighting turnover. Managers must be properly trained to execute your hotel's strategic plan, but also be able to inspire their employees by cultivating brand loyalty and helping instill a sense of pride in their work because, in the end, it isn't just managers that interface with customers. At larger hotels, personnel have more specialized roles since the managers have the budget to accommodate a larger staff. But economy brands must retain employees that are proficient across many skill sets so that fewer team members can produce a similar level of output. To meet this challenge takes a commitment from employees at all levels of the hotel, and makes effective training programs even more imperative.

By merely preparing managers to run a property, you'll achieve the bare minimum in customer service. And while the day-to-day workings of a property are important to master, that training alone doesn't teach managers how to lead a property. If managers simply run on autopilot and spend the day putting out fires, there's no one driving strategy, imparting knowledge, focusing on guest experiences, or inspiring employees to take ownership of their responsibilities. Ironically, management is not what makes a good manager. Managers must be leaders. They must complete daily tasks, but also be able to view these daily events in relation to their operational excellence plan and overall corporate goals, and align their staff accordingly.

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.