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Training Crucial for Hotels
In the United States and worldwide, there are many different hotels for guests to select. Some are part of high-end, luxury hotel chains such as Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. Other chains have multiple levels such as Starwood with Sheraton, Four Points, and others, and Marriott Corporation with a range of brands from Marriott resorts to Fairfield Inns.
One common characteristic that all of these hotels have identified is how crucial training is. Hotel executives have learned that high-quality service is usually what determines if guests will
return to their facilities, even more so than price. Consequently, having a well-trained hotel staff
is crucial to delivering the high-quality customer service guests expect. The focus of much of the
training is on creating positive organizational cultures through all facilities and with all managers
and employees. Many of these chains have expanded their training commitments by hiring more full-time trainers to work throughout all locations and areas. Several different types of training illustrate these efforts.
The Starwood collection of hotels (St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, Four Points, W Hotels) sees a specific focus on training as a contributor to competitive success. Over a recent six-month
period, Starwood trained its 185,000 workers on areas such as social skills, handling worker
emotions, and conflict/problem solving. These elements are seen as crucial to providing successful customer service. The focus of the training is for employees to know more about the types of guests in the hotels and how to respond to different situations that occur. Managers and others at hotels are trained on such factors as ensuring eye contact, evaluating customer and employee body language signals, and flexibility in resolving problems.
Choice Hotels and other chains use role-playing as part of their training for hotel staff
members. Handling families with kids, tired business travelers, and other types of individuals enhances the customer services culture in a facility. Another side benefit is that employees become less frustrated and stressed, which has reduced turnover and increased employee satisfaction.
The upscale Ritz-Carlton group has established the Mystique technology program.
Individual guests’ preferences can be entered and accessed by employees. This system can track what individual clients’ preferences are for types of rooms, service that they have experienced, and even personal allergies. To implement this system and its use, the firm held train-the-trainer conferences. Then those trainers spread out and conducted training for hotel managers, local HR and training managers, and marketing/guest relations managers.
However, training just existing employees can be too limited. So Ritz-Carlton and other chains have revised their new employee orientation training. Integrating job-related details and how to use the Mystique system with customers is now part of the on-boarding process for employees at all levels, including housekeepers, desk clerks, restaurant servers, supervisors, and managers.
From these examples, it is evident that many hotels are investing significantly in training. The payoffs of the training are likely to be seen in more satisfied guests, better-performing employees, and increased organizational revenues and profits.49

1. Discuss how these hotels are using a strategic and performance consulting approach to developing training efforts.

2. Identify how the effectiveness of Ritz-Carlton’s Mystique program might be measured several years later.

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