Optimizing Your Training Dollars

Are You Realizing Requisite Returns From This Critical Investment?

By S. Lakshmi Narasimhan Founder, Ignite Insight LLC | August 17, 2014

Service is at the core of a hotel business. Notwithstanding a grand lobby, spanking new guest rooms and sparkling restaurant outlets, customers are drawn to a hotel principally based on the service quality and standards they experience. It is almost an emotional experience to feel at home in your hotel and this triggers repeat patronage. Without a customer focused training strategy effectively executed, a hotel cannot survive for long. But utilizing training dollars in your budget to produce a sharply focused service culture is a totally different kettle of fish.

Where Does Training Fit in Your Mission?

It is often noticed in the hospitality industry that when revenues begin to drop or stall, one of the first line items in the Profit and Loss Statement that is chopped is the expenditure on training. It is rather tragic that in the service industry where repeat customer patronage is often dictated by how well trained the hotel staff are and how much of an excellent experience the customer has had, what is sacrificed first for a better bottom line is the expenditure on training. It is ironical too that only when the occupancies begin falling, it is the right time to take stock and tighten up on service culture and run training programs.

Benefits of the Training Investment

It is thus imperative that training be considered an investment and not just an expense item in the Profit and Loss Statement ready to be sacrificed at the first sign of strain on the bottom line.

Why should training be considered an investment? What are some crucial benefits of training?

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.