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Match Training Technology to Generations and Cultures

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October 01, 2005
Training | Technology
Carol Verret - carol@carolverret.com

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© 2005 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

If you have developed a training strategy that encompasses every department of your hotel(s), an additional consideration is how that training is delivered.

Many years ago, a media guru named Marshall McLuhan insisted “… the medium is the message.” Even thought the medium may not be the message in a training environment, it certainly influences how well the training is received and absorbed. The mode or delivery of a training program and its ultimate success is dependent upon the factors of the generation that composes the department as well as the diversity of cultures within a department. In many cases the generation will override cultural diversity.

For example, to adopt a totally online training approach may be appealing to those who are Generation X and Y and whatever we are calling the next generation, but it may not be appropriate for the less technical positions, like the housekeeping department, the majority of whom may be late baby boomers or who may not identify English as their first language. In some departments where there is a mix of generations and cultural diversity, the same program may need to be developed in different modes in order to reach everyone with the same message.

If the composition of your employees cuts across these generational lines and embraces cultural diversity, you should be applauded, however, you may need to work a little harder to ensure that your training is transmitted and understood by all.

A client in South Africa, Sun City that employs an incredible mix of generations and nationalities develops and conducts all its training in house. It is truly impressive that every employee within every department exhibited a consistently excellent quality of service.

The following are some guidelines that you may want to consider as you develop your training programs to ensure consistently excellent service levels.

>>We expect front desk employees to be computer literate regardless of their ages or cultures. This is a perfect environment for online training, not just in the hard skills that relate to the technology of the reservation and property management systems but also in the soft skills of guest service. If an online program in guest service can be embedded in the front desk computers, as are the training modules of the hard skills in most cases, it does not require these employees to leave their stations to access it.

>> The employees in the housekeeping department may be multi-generational but may also be composed of a large percentage of people who do not consider English as their first or primary language. If many of these share a common first language, it is always advisable to provide training in that language. In most cases, training in this department is more effective in a more traditional medium such as videos that can be viewed multiple times. It is important to have supervisors available to train the employees both one on one and as a group.

In the previous resort example, neither the daily housekeeper nor the turndown person understood English very well. But they had been trained to smile and attempt to understand my requests by going to and picking up the items or items that they thought I was requesting.

>> The food and beverage department is an example of a generation overriding the cultural differences within a department. The very young in this department were born with a mouse in their hands. They grew up on computer and video games regardless of culture and are very receptive to the online training experience. It will be best received if the online training sessions have motion and color and is therefore able to keep the employees engaged. Multilingual programs in the same medium are the ideal but many of these have a basic understanding of the English language through computer and video game experience. Parallel programs for this department using more traditional mediums such as videos are more appropriate for those who may be older or whose level of computer literacy is relatively basic.

Many companies will be concerned by the potential expense of multimedia and multilinguist training programs. Funding for training was one of the first things to be thrown out following Sept. 11. The industry is experiencing a remarkable recovery in RevPAR generation but in many cases, training budgets and priorities have yet to be restored.

The labor pool of good employees is getting smaller and those that are good at their positions are beginning to see that it is a market that is swinging in their favor. At the same time, competition for select customers is beginning to heat up and the competitive advantage will go to those hotels and hotel companies that provide a superior level of service.

Well trained employees remain with a company longer than those who feel that they were inadequately trained to do their jobs properly. Before an employee feels he has adequate training the message must have been received and assimilated. If we don’t deliver training in a medium and language that the employee relates to, the training message has a very short shelf life.

Employee retention is good business and the cost of retaining employees is far lower than recruiting and training new ones.

Carol Verret and Associates Consulting and Training offers training services and consulting in the areas of sales, revenue management and customer service. Carol can be reached at carol@carolverret.com or at (303) 618-4065.

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