WATCH: The Story Behind Innform – How Making Great Staff Training Experiences Became Our Focus

Hi everyone — Michael from Innform here, the hassle-free hospitality training software.

I’d like to share with you something different than my usual posts. I’m going to write about the reasons and purpose behind Innform and how it came to be. Innform is a new training software for the hospitality industry, but my introduction into digital employee training and eLearning goes further back; 8 years ago in fact. Since then, myself and my team have been obsessed with the idea of building eLearning tools with a fresh and enjoyable user experience.

Here’s how it all began: From Malta and Austria to a London-based Software company

I moved to London 8 years ago from my home country of Malta – I went to London to become a UX designer (this is what I still do to this day). During my first few weeks of working at my first job at the time, I met Sebastian Hefel, an Austrian designer who was also living in London also with the intention to earn his chops in the design industry.

We bonded over the fact that we were both coming to London from abroad and our common love for UX design. But in many our conversations (often while sitting in the park during our lunch hour munching on a meal deal), we spoke and dreamt about starting a design business, and yes – have our very own startup. We took this very seriously, and within a year we started Seb Azzo, which continues to thrive to this day. Very quickly, we moved into an office in Shoreditch (where our main HQ is still located!).

Seb and I started working for small clients, building software products and websites. However, we were always on the lookout for the next big company to call a client. One day, during Seb Azzo’s first or second month, someone brought a call for proposal to our attention, it was from Ibis Hotels! A large global hotel chain, and you guessed it: They needed a new eLearning tool. The software was to be used by the food and beverage department. It was exciting and a potential game changer.

The eLearning sector is ripe for disruption, and ready for a refreshing next step

Ibis has a huge presence in the UK – we put together the best pitch we could muster and headed to their HQ in Hammersmith. We decided to go with an open mind and do our best, but we proposed something quite different – radical in fact. We proposed something which we would actually want to use were we Ibis employees.

From Ibis Campus to half a million users!

We came up with a training LMS called ibis Campus – a game, by which employees could challenge each other on many different Ibis facts. With the strongest employees climbing up the leader boards. It was colourful, vibrant and full of games, illustrations and animations. We took a chance and didn’t expect much of it, but we wanted to stick to our guns and present the ideas that mattered to us.

A couple of weeks after that initial meeting, the board of decision makers asked us back, and in that meeting we got the project! That was a big moment, we were happy we got the breakthrough we needed, but even more pleased with the open mindedness of the company. At the time, we knew that eLearning was ready for a change.

That experience showed us that we could take on larger, more ambitious digital training software projects. All of those products we built in the early days (this was about 5 years ago) we are still very proud of. Those initial tools introduced Seb and I to the eLearning and hospitality training industry. We were relatively new to the game, but we quickly fell in love with the training sector as there was so much we could contribute with our fresh outlook on user experience and user interface design – there was a lot we could do, so we doubled down on focus and embraced the eLearning and LMS world.

Since then we formed great relationships within the industry that lead to fantastic projects with Accor Group, Novotel, Uniworld and of course Ibis Hotels. We’ve built 15 fully-fledged learning management systems (often for hotels and the hospitality sector) and now have over half a million (that’s over 500,000!) employees using our platforms for ongoing training around the world. We helped our clients build text and video-based courses, which include learning programmes around soft skills, hard skills, front of house training, customer service in tourism, and of course hospitality management.

For us, this is a labour of love. The product is informed by years of stories with customers in the hospitality industry and is backed up by our mission to build great user experiences

To us, this became a very rewarding role to play in the service training industry. We realised how passionate trainers and HR managers were in unleashing people’s potentials and we were bitten by the bug! So all of that experience in building eLearning games, blended learning tools, classic LMS software (always pushing the envelope and innovation) lead to us amassing a great deal of knowledge around this sort of software.

Fast forward 7 years – we’re doing LMS workshops, eLearning consultancy and organically positioned ourselves as the software company that builds great eLearning software (LMS). So with this in mind, Seb and I sat down this January 2018 and asked our selves: What can we do with all of this experience – where can we go next?

The answer, which came very easily to us (because it was and still is such an exciting prospect) was to package all we know into one tool – and it had to be hassle-free, with ready-made courses, and translated and multilingual content. The hassle of creating fresh and engaging content is the struggle that HR managers and trainers go through day in, day out and our mission was clear: to simplify the hospitality training process, for everyone and affordably.

We’ve put together all we know about hospitality training into one tool, and called it Innform

Six months since that conversation, we’re looking at a Beta release in literally weeks! We want as many companies and teams as possible to try this new tool, because we got to where we are with feedback and a genuine connection with our end users. And this is what we intend to do with Innform. So if you haven’t already registered for your free beta account, we encourage you to do so, and to tell us what you think!

For us, this is a labour of love. The product is informed by years of stories with customers in the hospitality industry and is backed by our mission to build great user experiences – hopefully thanks to this long winded post, you can see how Innform came to be and how in essence, it is a product that’s been brewing in our minds for many years.

That’s all I have for you – if you have any questions or feedback please do get in touch.

See you next time – Michael (Co-founder)