First impressions count, and when it comes to the hotel and hospitality industry, it’s in your interest to ensure that your front of house team has the skills to provide the best impression of your establishment. You’ve probably found while hiring that some folks are naturals – well presented, great with people and able to problem solve on the hop. Others might show potential but are missing key opportunities to build rapport, offer the best possible experiences for your customers or communicate your brand. Some might have been in the role for years and could do with updates to their skill set or a refresher in the basics. Sound familiar?
Invest In Your Team
Front office or front desk managers and employees are the first point of contact your clients will have with your business in person, so investment in the people you place in these roles is vital to building and maintaining a fantastic reputation. In this blog post, we’ll be covering some ways that online hospitality courses can steer your workforce toward making great first impressions every time.
Regular training sessions for your employees not only teaches new skills and reinforces existing ones, but it’s also worth remembering that learning and development can build confidence, and this, in turn, increases job satisfaction. Happy employees will tend to perform their daily duties more effectively, and will likely seek ways to go the extra mile for their customers – which is exactly what you’re looking for in the hospitality industry. eLearning software is a valuable tool if you want your people to regularly engage with their hospitality training since online learning can be portioned out into bite-size modules and even completed via mobile apps. When your front of house staff feel like their learning and development is achievable over the course of a busy work week, they’re more likely to engage frequently, get the most out of it, and in turn transmit their ability to handle things with ease to your customers.
So here’s an example of how eLearning can help you and your staff raise the bar. Imagine you’re checking into a guesthouse. If the front desk employee greets you with a smile, asks about your trip out, answers all your questions about the venue’s facilities and handles your room booking quickly and easily, you’d probably rate that as a great start to your stay. To do all those things, that employee is handling a number of administrative tasks and deploying several types of social skills simultaneously. Building a set of linked courses using a learning management system to teach your front of house staff these skills can be easy to do with great training software. Since the skills required for front of house are various, it makes sense to deliver these courses via a variety of mediums to suit the topic. For instance, an online course covering initial customer greetings might come in the form of a video, so staff can see exactly what kind of body language and tone of voice makes the best impression – and perhaps ways to deescalate an angry customer could also be taught this way. More administrative type skills could be relayed through a more text-based walkthrough, mimicking the booking system you may have. Essentially, eLearning is a flexible way to deliver information, and getting your employees familiar with your procedures and expectations can be done through media that closely resembles real-life scenarios to aid retention.
Customise The Details
In the hotel business, from check-in to check out, your guests should feel supremely welcome and taken care of. Nothing should be too much trouble. Details are crucial in this industry since you’re offering an experience rather than a product, and your eLearning courses should reflect each instance where a guest will interact with your staff. Online courses should reveal opportunities for your staff to surprise and delight your customers. You might have a range of employees who occupy different roles and have different levels of experience or ability, but the great thing with online training is that it can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be for each of your staff members. Customisable eLearning can include modules on greetings, appearance and courtesy, as well as desk management skills such as tidiness or double-checking the smallest things that can make a difference, such as the freshness of floral arrangements. Online hospitality training can also be designed to help staff handle more complex issues such as complaints, or explain the protocol for assisting guests with special requests. Essentially, eLearning and course add-ons should help your staff anticipate and understand what sorts of things your clients may ask for, and then be able to provide these things warmly and helpfully.
Collaboration Is Key
Learning online also brings rewards when employees can see progress in their learning; adding interactive elements such as leaderboards or skill certification can provide motivation and opportunities for promotion for instance. While online training can provide tailored one-on-one learning for your workforce, it can bring them together as a team too. A great front desk team should work like a well-oiled machine to deliver guest satisfaction, and if they’re learning together – perhaps in a group session via video every so often – they’re going to be far more likely to bond and help each other do their jobs. Plus, remember your front of house staff isn’t limited to those behind the check-in desk. Your porters, doormen or perhaps even housekeepers are all likely to greet your guests in the first few minutes of their arrival. Keeping folks in these roles aware of what’s expected of them and regularly engaged in online training will help your front desk staff receive happy guests at check-in which will go some way to encouraging everyone to pull together. It’s pretty much a given that a team that knows their job is likely to take ownership and excel individually and together. Uncertainty or a reluctance to take care of a situation in any one of your front of house staff members will pull your hotel’s ratings or reputation down incredibly quickly!
It’s Good To Talk
One particularly useful aspect to eLearning for managers or business owners is the platform it offers for communication. By training your staff online, you can also gauge how useful they are finding their courses, and how well systems on the ground are working. If you’ve chosen your software well, you’ll likely have the option to open your Learning Management System up to feedback, and it’s a good idea to do so. If you take advantage of this aspect to online training, the exercise becomes a two-way endeavour since your front desk staff can report back on how their work works and can put forward suggestions for systems improvement. Being proactive, and taking feedback from the people in the firing line can really help your improve your hospitality business. All too often management can fall into the trap of creating too much distance between themselves and their colleagues on the ground. eLearning software can bridge that gap, and additionally, you may find that once your staff are in the habit of learning online regularly, they may begin to request you add hospitality courses that reflect their interests, career path or where they feel collectively as a team they need more reinforcement.
The hospitality industry is a dynamic one, and since customer expectations are constantly shifting, hotels need to adapt to continue to not only survive but excel. eLearning is an excellent way to introduce new procedures gradually, across multiple locations if you have many branches, and allows your brand voice, or house style, to permeate every new service you offer. Also, by keeping your folks on a learning loop, they’ll reach for it when technology – a booking system for example – is upgraded or changed, and the shock of staying current will be lessened considerably. Your LMS can provide a reference library for your front desk staff to refer to when they’re in a new situation or offer a quick five-minute online course during a quiet moment to introduce them to a new skill. Front desk employees need to stay incredibly organised to do their jobs, and eLearning can help them understand new systems, build their confidence with lesser utilised skills and show them how to handle new situations.
Your front of house team is a unique bunch compared to the rest of your hospitality staff. They’re a many hat-wearing set of individuals who need to balance exceptional social skills with military-grade organisation. They’re always on view and accessible to your clients, and they’re the folks who’ll feel even the slightest sea change in your establishment. Be it a new spa service or change in chef, it’s guaranteed your customers will always be forthcoming with questions and opinions!
Information, efficiently and engagingly delivered to them through regular, relevant online training can be the keystone that supports these employees and allows them to shine. Which is exactly what your hospitality business needs, right?