There’s a popular saying in cold-weather destinations: Summer bodies are made in the winter. This same concept can be applied to the hospitality business in a way: The seeds of a successful busy season are planted in the offseason. Right?
It’s easy to think we’re in the simple transaction business of selling goods and services – a taxi ride, a rental car, a well-appointed room, and a delicious meal. However, there’s so much more to it, and the value of those goods and services increases significantly when we recognize the importance of the intangible elements that create the customer experience.
An intangible element, for example - is a hospitality or tourism business’s image – its specific promise, personality, positioning and emotion – essentially delivered to the customer by the employees. It’s certainly a large responsibility to be carried out, most especially if the employees aren’t completely trained.
To create a positive business image and increase the value of the services or products it provides, invest in quality employee training. And, by training, I don’t mean dusting off the one-sized -fits- all- five-year- old training binder for the new team members to ‘read through’, either. I mean, a well-planned quality training program that has more than just superficial knowledge; but one that has a deep and broad knowledge of categories, skills and processes.
We, in the hospitality and tourism industry are a diverse workforce, which includes a variety of positions that may or may not have a strong educational component or requirement. Positions may be filled by employees who have an incredible desire to learn but to their determinant haven’t received formal training. They perform their duties to the very best of their abilities – and sometimes the best they can do - without training -is costing the company money through errors, inefficiencies, or dissatisfied customers. Employees that are not trained end up getting frustrated and quit and as a result, employee turnover further costs the company.
From an employee’s perspective, there is the added benefit of creating a pipeline of promotable employees. If they are properly trained and always growing, you never have to look far for that next rising star. From the guest or customer perspective, better-trained employees are going to deliver better on the company mission statement as well as the brand standard. This means happier customers, who turn into loyal customers, which means more sales and better guest survey scores and reviews.
The entire workforce is a reflection of the hospitality culture, and it demands training from the bottom to the top – and, there’s no time like the offseason to begin a training program. Making the most of this offseason to maximize your busy season’s profitability requires five easy steps:
Appreciate the value of education
View education and training opportunities as a benefit – not an added upfront expense, which returns its cost many times over. Show your employees, and the community, that you invest in education. You will attract and retain the best talent, who will repay you again and again with their knowledge, training, and passion.
Develop and train talent
Invest in developing and training employees. Many hospitality employees start in entry-level positions and work their way up into higher level jobs. When a company takes the time to train its employees, it is easier to recognize the talent that can be developed for higher management positions. Cross-trained employees can also help temporarily fill gaps when needed reducing extra strain on the organization.
Think outside of the dusty company training binders
Knowing a story about a company’s founder or exactly where each unusual ingredient is sourced isn’t education, it’s marketing. Incorporate a variety of educational topics into your plan. Some topics may be position-specific, and others could range from problem-solving, to critical thinking to emotional intelligence, and maintaining professional and ethical standards. Cross-cultural training is also very useful and strongly encouraged for employees from different cultures and ethnicities to work together, but it is also necessary for employees to learn how to handle certain situations that are raised by customers from diverse cultures, religions, and ethnicities.
Make learning a part of the culture of your operation. Training should occur regularly, with talented and knowledgeable individuals leading the way. Ultimately, a culture that values education will result in a team that naturally seeks more knowledge on its own time and brings it with them to work.
Lead by example
Learn alongside your employees. Teach them if you can, but don’t worry if that’s not your role. Simply doing your job well can be a terrific way to establish excellence among the rest of the team.
An investment in your employees’ skill sets is an investment in your company. When everyone gets better, everyone gets better.
Caymera International offers individual and group training on a variety of topics to include, but not limited to: Diversity, Safety and Security, Restaurant Revenue Management, Food Service Management: Marketing, Service, and HR Systems, Marketing The Hospitality Brand Through Digital Media, Services Marketing, Planning and Management, Hotel Revenue Management, Hotel Sales 101, Hotel Sales: Prospecting New Business, Understanding Financial Statements, Customer Service, Responding to Customer Reviews, Critical Thinking, Guest Problem Solving and more.
Brooke Meyer is the managing partner of Caymera International, a Caymanian-owned hospitality and tourism consulting and advisory firm. She’s an industry veteran and holds a master’s certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and has also earned continuing education certifications in Hotel Real Estate and Asset Management, Digital Marketing, and Revenue Management from Cornell University. Visit Caymera at www.caymeragroup.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
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