It’s easy to think that hospitality is moving away from personal interactions between associates and guests, particularly with innovations in technology. Mobile check-in, the increasing popularity of kiosks for ordering food and services and a gravitation toward SMS and text-based customer support rather than verbal discussion are just a few of the trends that have pushed guests away from speaking directly with a hotel employee. This adds a new layer of difficulty to designing the best possible guest experience, which is especially important since personalized service is high on the list of guest desires this year. Besides, travelers are volunteering their personal information throughout every aspect of the booking process, and they want to see some return.
For Rory Cameron, EVP at learning management and training system Litmos, creating an environment with consistent service is the greatest challenge facing hospitality operations today. This is partly because of the growing number of franchise units throughout the industry, while corporate-run hotels shrink in number each year. Cameron said that there are opportunities to create a more consistent, targeted training program for any number of businesses or hotel properties, and the secret lies in mobile technology.
With this in mind, here are four ways the industry can benefit from mobile training solutions:
1. Accessibility for All Employees
The biggest draw for mobile training, according to Cameron, is that any employee can access it on the fly whether they have access to corporate tools or not.
“Four or five years ago, nobody had any mobile learning capabilities; training was all done one-on-one through shadowing,” Cameron said. “This is missing the target. Several employees don’t have desks or corporate email addresses, but they all have smartphones.”
Using mobile training, employees are able to pick up and continue training on the go without having to visit a specified location on property, or sometimes off site. In addition, the ubiquity of access via smartphones ensures that nearly every employee will be prepared to begin training in a moment’s notice, even if they are at home.
2. Seasonal Training: Solved
For seasonal hotels and resorts, training is always a challenge. Closing for several months every year creates a vacuum where employee habits can regress, but by using a mobile training tool employers can prepare their staff before they are on site, ensuring they aren’t starting from scratch.
“It’s big in ski and snow resorts, when people come back from a break for orientation these operators are having their staff refresh with digital courses before they arrive, making them fast-tracked for on boarding,” Cameron said.
3. Instant Preparation
In today’s world, where concerns of hacking and data theft are rampant, PCI compliance is no longer a concern only for IT security staff. In the event of a breach, or preparation ahead of a breach, training for such an event becomes necessary, but the last thing a hotel can afford during such a crisis is to shut down all operations. With mobile training, this can be done on the fly, keeping employees up to date.
“There is a lot of personal information held in IT systems, and we see a lot of it in North America and hotel chains specifically,” Cameron said. “The industry is more reactive right now when there are issues traced back to properties, rather than being proactive with training, but that is slowly changing.”
4. Reputation Management
According to Cameron, mobile training is seeking to relieve part of a larger concern revolving around brand reputation.
“Brand reputation is so important right now because a data breach at a resort—or group of resorts—is really just as bad a reputation problem as a series of bad Yelp reviews,” he said. “Training to recover your hotel’s reputation one interaction at a time is crucial; right now it’s a bigger risk to a property’s life than general health and safety issues.”
One way mobile training assists with reputation control is by providing a platform through which a hotel can assign a customer-service course for an employee in response to a negative interaction with a guest. Cameron said communication is a major area where hotels can improve upon during a crisis, and having a proactive customer-service department is now more possible than ever.
“The legacy way of doing training, peer-to-peer reviews and shadowing, it’s all going to change to a more digital delivery system,” Cameron said. “Everyone should have equal opportunity to get the same education, career development tools, etc., and they can.”