Generate More Revenue By Making Training Everyone's Job.
By Doug Kennedy
Saturday, 18th April 2009
During the past few years of record profits many hotels and hotel companies have invested heavily in ramping up their in-house and corporate level training resources. 

Now that we are in a down market, one can easily see which organizations truly comprehend and believe in the value of ongoing training versus those who view it as window dressing. 

As a vendor-partner to the hotel industry for training and development resources, it is interesting to see and exact names of hotels, hotel companies, and industry organizations are still investing in their team's personal development.  From what I hear from my colleagues and competitors, it seems to be the top-tier companies across all organizations, market segments and locations that are still keeping hotel training companies like us plenty busy during what is one of the biggest downturns in industry history.  

This is not just because these excellent, top-tier hotel companies think training is a nice thing to do; it's because visionary leaders realize the tangible ROI that training can achieve, if  properly implemented, measured, and followed-up on.

Unfortunately though, from what I hear of the industry at large, way too many companies are instead blindly cutting back on training and development at every juncture across the board.  Depending on the type of organization or company, this plays out as:

Hotel trainer positions that are left unfilled or eliminated.

  • Cut-backs in budgeted hours for recurrent training.
  • New-hires being scheduled to cover shifts before they have had proper one-on-one coaching with a supervisor.
  • Lack of access to new training multimedia resources such as DVDs; missed opportunities for managers and staff to attend webinars and to use eLearning tools.
  • Cutbacks in budgets for managers and leaders to attend management company or brand conferences and events.
  • Training components of conferences and events being reduced; or annual educational and training conferences that are being cut out altogether.
  • Reduction in the quality of the educational experiences being offered at annual conferences for associations, brands, and other trade groups.
It's understandable that when facing drastic, unexpected declines in revenue that some cuts absolutely have to be made and it is never pleasant nor easy to decide what to cutback.  Certainly in markets such as what most hotels are currently seeing, even the training budgets need to be pared back.  But this is not the time to have an "abandon ship" paradigm that views all investments in training as an "extra" that needs to be cast overboard to stay afloat. 

Instead, it is precisely in times like these we must remember training is the responsibility of every manager, every supervisor, and every leader; every month, every day, every shift.  Certainly the ideal situation is to have a designated training manager or director to inspire, organize, and lead the training and development effort throughout your organization.  Interestingly, the top-tier companies that use the most outside training resources seem to also have at least a full or part time trainer in place.  A few I know have even added training positions even during downturns; others have found a way to sustain these positions at all costs, even if having these staffers work temporarily in other departments during slower monthly accounting periods. 

Yet even companies that do have designated training manager or director to lead the charge still understand: training is a process not just a title, position, or job description. Instead, they view training is a core best practice necessary to sustain the ongoing journey to excellence, versus a program to complete, a workshop we have to attend, or a certification we must to achieve. The best training managers know this well and see themselves as a center-point nexus directory and resource. 

Whether you are a hotel trainer by title, or a department head, assistant manager, or shift supervisor, here are some ideas to make training happen every week, every day, every shift:

  • When forecasting temporary dips in business activity, schedule formalized, workshop style training during down-times.
  • Even during periods of peak activity, there always seems to be dips in the "cycle of service" during which staff have predictable periods of down-time.  This is a great chance to schedule some on-the-job coaching.
  • Sometimes business levels drop unexpectedly; during these times it is not always possible to cut hours by sending staff home early.  If so, conduct impromptu "grab and go" training meetings.
  • Conduct individualized coaching  with frontline associates directly in their workplace between transactions during actual shifts.
  • Reinforce what was done well; focus on what could have been done more effectively.
  • Distribute copies of article reprints from publications such as this for discussion/review at meetings. 
  • Checkout cost-effective multi-media (DVD's and videos) from resources such as the Educational Institute or the Sunrise Basic Training series.  
  • Reinforce training themes with workplace displays that can be made fun with simple word processing programs.
  • Find ways to cut costs but to still attend industry conferences or events; book early to reduce registration fees.  The biggest cost historically is usually airfare and travel costs, which can be secured at value rates if you plan ahead to send your leaders to such events.
  • If you are a hotel company or association, this is a terrific opportunity to show value to your stakeholders by finding a way to still offer quality educational and training events at future meetings. 
By making revenue-generating training part of the realm of responsibility of every manager and leader, your can ensure your frontline staff is capitalizing on every opportunity to capture sales, reduce unnecessary costs, and ultimately maximize profits during this industry downturn.  The best part is that when the recovery starts, your well-trained team will be ready to optimize profits when demand begins to soar once again.

Doug Kennedy, president of the Kennedy Training Network, has been a fixture on the hospitality and tourism industry conference circuit since 1989, having presented over 1,000 conference keynote sessions, educational seminars, and on-premise training workshops for diverse audiences representing every segment of the lodging industry. 



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