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Recession Training.
By Vijay Dandapani
Thursday, 19th February 2009
 
As in previous downturns, some (smart) companies are using the recession to ramp up training programs.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) in an article headlined "Despite Cutbacks, Firms Invest in Developing Leaders" notes that "many employers are investing in leadership-development programs, hoping not to be caught short of strong managers when the economy recovers".

Philips, per the article is investing in "high-potential employees, stressing subjects such as business strategy and personal leadership. Participants are assigned to teams to work on a business project. The expectations is "that investing in leadership development will help Philips through the recession and the recovery". The Journal article quotes Accenture as saying that "the emphasis on leadership development is a departure from the past".

Others including civic leaders such as those in Kansas City seem to be following a similar strategy of training and/or retraining noting the need to "grow talent and retrain idled workers to fill needs in the health-care industry". Farther afield and across the pond the sentiment is along the same lines as this article in the UK's Guardian newspaper notes as to "why training is crucial in a slump".

Hotels can and must take a similar approach and invest in training staff at all levels but particularly at the executive and sales offices.

The first line item in a budget to be trimmed if not axed in a downturn tends to be training. Resisting that somewhat natural urge takes resolve and foresight. Some such as Thistle hotels in the UK have adopted the right if semi-compromised approach by "looking at ways to control resourcing through examining replacement of vacancies and whether we can cover roles by other means (while retaining) leadership development training to ensure that customer satisfaction and quality (is) not compromised".

Training ideas for hotels can and must include upselling, package promotion, revamping the property's website to reflect current buying preferences, using e-commerce to revisit and reintroduce current and past customers to offerings.

Most importantly taking a fresh look at appearances including staff uniforms by introducing low-cost cosmetic changes such as a different look to the name tag can bring in more customers.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city.Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York. www.vijaydandapani.com
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