Training: the key to maintaining guest satisfaction with a strained hotel staff

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Hotels today are faced with this major and recurring problem: how to maintain an unforgettable guest experience with a small and scattered staff? What can you do to inspire your guests to promote your brand during these difficult times while keeping staff morale up?

With just a skeleton crew of employees and no hotel recruiters, the challenge seems daunting. But there are short- and long-term steps you can take to keep customer satisfaction high and employee stress low. Training directly impacts your customers’ satisfaction and their intention to return and recommend your hotel. Here are three suggestions for maintaining Forbes 5-star standards in today’s challenging environment:

Reconfiguring and reinventing training methods

Many managers are now working in line staff roles, leaving them little time to train other staff within the traditional training structure we are all familiar with. Hoteliers should seize the opportunity to completely rethink training based on different assumptions and expectations. Suppose you will have inconsistent and limited time for line managers to train in their specific areas. Develop a more fluid and transparent system of training checklists so that training assignments can be shared between managers and tasks can be distributed.

Take note of independent hotels that aren’t beholden to long corporate branding and traditional training programs. With more flexibility, they can adapt the training to the moment. General Manager Tom Mulroy at the Plunge Beach Hotel in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, FL. takes a unique approach by bundling checklists and printed materials with e-learning. It combines technology vendor training with job shadowing and role-playing with the majority of on-the-job training. Employees can learn by doing – a proven way to drive customer experience results.

Hire flexible people and be transparent with them

When the workforce is tight, employees tend to wear many hats. Make sure to hire workers who are ready and willing to step out of the box of their traditional roles and be more flexible with what is expected of them. Look for people who are enthusiastic about learning new areas of work – those who might even volunteer for it.

At the same time, be transparent and clear with workers about what’s going on in your hotel. Communicate via email, text, and any other preferred method so employees know what their efforts are producing and how their organization is doing. They will remain willing to be flexible the longer the lines of communication are open with them. If they have a channel through which to speak when things get stressful, you will build trust and they will in turn improve your customer experience.

Don’t lose sight of leadership and give employees a stake in the outcome

Just because you’re working in crisis mode doesn’t mean there’s no way to keep staff motivated. You have to keep staff motivated or else exacerbate turnover, which makes matters worse. But how can you keep sight of this vital internal component when your plate is stacked?

Combine both your need to improve the customer experience and your employees’ basic human desire to feel valued and empowered. Empower them with a sense of ownership and authority by launching projects that challenge them to think outside the box to ensure an even better customer experience and improved operations. Create cross-departmental initiatives with measurable goals where employees can find ways to save money, time, and support guests.

We all need to think differently about how we run hospitality organizations today. Traditional ways of doing things – especially training – won’t work. Staying flexible and open to new ideas will be key for hotel managers to support a thriving staff, even when they’re strained. Your guests will feel the effort you’re making, and they’ll reciprocate with referrals and loyalty.

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