It's the holiday season, so hotels, cruise lines, and other event and lodging businesses are abuzz with travelers seeking the perfect seasonal stay. To make their holiday bright (and have them return next year) everything needs to be right, from the lights to the trees to the kids activities to the eggnog station in the lounge. It's a critical time of year to leave a lasting impression on guests.
Few industries rely on promoting the customer experience as much as the hospitality industry. In fact, it could be argued that the very product the hospitality industry offers is nothing more than the customer experience itself. Because of this, hospitality companies have greater pressure than others to promote and deliver a positive experience. They are made or broken by it. But, the good news is that 7 out of 10 Americans are willing to pay more for a more positive customer experience, according to an often-cited study, which means that hotels and similar businesses don't have to cut cost corners to create that experience and can potentially earn even greater profits.
One area where they certainly should not be stingy is in training the workforce properly and consistently to provide the best possible experience to the customer.
The Importance of Seasonal Training in Hopitality
Hospitality companies should put training at the top of their priority list for several reasons. Even if the facility is impeccable, the food fantastic, and the price right, employees are literally the lifeblood of what make these companies successful. In this industry, customers are not simply purchasing a product or a service; they're buying a human experience. The most beautiful, well-equipped hotel in the world would fail and fall into disarray if the staff were ill-trained or poorly managed. Through proper training, however, employees and managers can carry out their jobs more effectively, positively affecting the experience of the customer as well as the overall function and reputation of the firm.
Four tips for seasonal training:
- Leverage the LMS. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but seasonal training doesn't need to deviate from your usual course creation and distribution protocols. Even if your instructors are dressed as elves in the course videos, you still need to standardize, distribute, and otherwise facilitate training and educational resources to learners. No need to recreate the wheel and start doing things you don't usually do. You have the system, so use it to create and track training, centralize resources, and enable administration.
- Focus on programs. For full or longtime employees who know their jobs like the backs of their hands, this is an essential time to bring them up to speed on your special, seasonal programs. The valet likely doesn't know about the special you're running in the spa. The waiter may not realize that there's a tree lighting ceremony each evening. To get your entire staff up-to-speed on seasonal programs (especially up-charged ones), you need to train across functions. Be prepared to deliver short, compelling, and ideally mobile training on holiday programs well ahead of time, so that teams have time to learn and familiarize themselves with the value of these offerings.
- Care for new / temporary staff. Because you may have an influx of new hires this time of year, some of whom will be temporary, it's even more important to train them quickly and consistently. Don't assume that they're just learn from the old-timers. Strategically design an on-boarding program that relies on shorter agendas, micro-learning, and delivers faster speed-to-competency. However, don't get so focused on specific job training that you forget to educate on company culture, core values, and key messaging. The goal would be to never have a single guest who guesses that a person is "seasonal help." Everyone needs to be on-point whether they've worked there for two days or two years.
- Have some extra fun. It's the holidays, so feel free to be a bit more playful with course content, real-time messages, and updates on the progress of employees in training. You can offer additional bonuses for winners on the game boards or design customized dashboards to highlight the impact your training is having on employee performance and customer sales / satisfaction.
In short, properly training employees is absolutely essential to the success of ventures in the hospitality industry. By using the right learning management system, such as Litmos, your employees can grow and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to do their jobs effectively and promote the customer experience -- over the critical holiday season, but more importantly, any time of year.