Innovative Learning: A New Frontier in Soft Skills Training

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Over the past two years, the world has changed. And so, it’s time for a new approach to how we teach the next generation of hoteliers.

With the reopening of international borders, we are delighted to see an influx of business and the return of tourism to Australia. While this much-anticipated recovery is warmly welcomed, it also presents both challenges and opportunities as we face drastic labor and skills shortages.

Industry growth now outpaces the supply of skilled professionals. According to recent data, the number of advertised hospitality vacancies in Australia just hit a two-year high, jumping 20% ​​in February alone. By contrast, the number of applicants for hospitality jobs hit a two-year low in 2022.

“The biggest challenge for the industry right now is retaining young talent. We need to think long-term about developing the skills of future managers,” said Jerome Casteigt, Chief Commercial Officer and Chief Business and Hospitality, Torrens University Australia.

More than ever, hospitality companies need innovative solutions to quickly attract and train bright young talent. That’s why Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) at Australia’s Torrens University has led the charge in this new frontier of learning – Virtual Reality (VR) and Extended Reality (XR).

“Big problems require radical solutions, and that means looking at all the learning opportunities that new technologies present. So far, we are seeing exciting results from our revolutionary new VR and XR simulated hospitality learning platform,” said Associate Professor Simon Pawson, Associate Dean and Academic Director at Torrens University Australia.

VR headsets allow students to use glasses to navigate realistic scenarios

VR and XR: a new frontier in soft skills training

XR can and will change the landscape of hospitality management education. The hospitality industry needs to look at the training opportunities this innovation presents for current and future talent.

“At Torrens University Australia, we are committed to delivering immersive, authentic and industry-based learning, and we are also passionately committed to exceeding classroom learning opportunities through digital innovation,” said Eoghan Hogan, Director of Product Innovation, Torrens University Australia. .

With over 30 years of rich heritage in producing world-class hotel leaders and a strong focus on being the university of the industry, BMIHMS at Torrens University is perfectly positioned to introduce this new player .

“By combining research and technology, we are able to create an informed learning design strategy that transforms learning experiences while aligning with the future of digitally transformed higher education,” said Pawson.

Here’s how it works

This technology extends learning beyond a face-to-face environment and into the digital space of XR. Comprised of a VR experience and a desktop 3D scenario version, this traditionally takes in-person learning into a realm that is truly borderless. While it does not replace the tactical nature of face-to-face learning, this exciting tool has the potential to enable on-demand learning like never before.

The VR experience allows learners to use glasses to navigate realistic scenarios, while the XR hotel offers an immersive 3D experience from any laptop.

Learners perform different tasks as they move through the virtual space of the hotel; inspect rooms, serve digital guests and make decisions in all areas of hotel operations. They can make mistakes, test their knowledge, practice different management approaches and get real-time feedback while working through scenarios suited to developing their soft skills, confidence and emotional intelligence.

VR training and soft skills in the hospitality industry

As more and more research emerges demonstrating how virtual reality can be used as a highly effective tool for soft skills and emotional intelligence training, businesses around the world are increasingly adopting this technology.

In 2020, Hilton developed its own VR empathy training program for corporate staff to better understand the jobs of hotel employees. Best Western also implemented VR customer service training for new front desk employees and reported a significant decrease in customer complaints as a result.

There are clear benefits of this technology that have led operators to adopt VR soft skills training. Virtual reality training is relatively inexpensive, scalable, accessible from anywhere in the world, and offers authentic real-life learning experiences. According to new research, it has even more impact than most forms of workplace training today.

“The hospitality industry is currently facing an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers around the world. As skills shortages continue to emerge in the post-pandemic digital economy, VR training is expected to play an increasing role in onboarding new talent and providing the skilled professionals businesses demand,” said Casteigt. .

Virtual reality can help fill the void in soft skills and emotional intelligence training today. However, the hospitality industry must invest in training and innovative solutions if we are to educate the industry leaders we will need tomorrow. BMIHMS’ revolutionary VR and XR simulated hotel is one step closer to an exciting future.

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