Hotel Executive Insider: The Training Train

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Key Points in Providing Exceptional Service Training Experience for Hotel Employees

By Roberta Nedry, President, Hospitality Excellence, Inc.

Think about the history and evolution of the train. The steam locomotive enabled the potential of the railroad to be more fully appreciated. With smoother, stronger tracks, trains could run faster and advance more rapidly. What a wonderful analogy for my article in the Hotel Business Review , ” The Training Train: Key points in providing exceptional service training experience for hotel employees ” Those that are in a training role, the lead engines of a new employee’s career, will enable the potential of any new crew to more fully appreciate the guests they will soon serve. The smoother and stronger the training, the smoother and stronger the eventual service delivery. In this case, smoother and stronger means a solid understanding of the guest experience that will soon unfold and the many service points of contact that will make the difference.

Trainers need to have the right and thoughtful fuel to relate to their audiences and be able to effectively motivate them on service levels as well as operational duties. This week’s column discusses trainers as the lead engines and how they will fuel the service attitudes and disposition that will be a lasting foundation for new employees. Check out the criteria and guidelines that should be used for trainers and those who teach the examples that will be translated into real results for guests.

Recently, our firm, Hospitality Excellence, Inc, had the opportunity to launch an exciting training train for Port Everglades in South Florida, one of the world’s busiest cruise ports with 40 cruise ships from 15 cruise lines and more than 3 million passengers sailing annually.

We teamed up with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Southeast Florida Employers Port Association, cruise stevedoring companies at the Port and the International Longshoremen’s Association to launch a customized training course for baggage handlers.

Approximately 800 cruise ship baggage handlers from ILA Local #1526 received “SUNsational Service training for Professional Porters” over a four week time frame in preparation for cruise season. The course teaches customer service excellence and is designed specifically for porters at Port Everglades. We developed the Professional Porter Program based on Broward County’s SUNsational Service model, which we created in 1999 with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, in partnership with Broward County Employee Development for local hospitality workers. Today, all Broward County employees are required to complete the SUNsational customer service course when they begin working for the County. Hotels and hospitality venues and services continually send their employees to private sector sessions and schedule on site programs. Over 16,000 employees have been trained in both the public and private sectors to date and the program continues to grow and flourish.

Leadership in training played a huge part in the success of these enormous efforts as did the training experience all of these organizations created. As we developed the program, we considered how to make the training experience itself exciting, meaningful and relatable. We customized the content and designed examples on real life scenarios. Thanks to top leadership at the County levels, the CVB and most recently, newly elected leadership of the International Longshoreman’s Association( ILA), these programs make a difference and in turn, an impact. Leaders like CVB President Nicki Grossman and ILA President Mike D. Payne command respect and commitment from the very people they are trying to motivate. Our training team excelled in delivery thanks to excellent service role models at the very top and to a service excellence experience before the Porters hit the docks.

We are proud of stories like these and applaud these organizations for excelling in their own commitment to providing an exceptional service training experience for their teams and employees.

Full steam ahead for guest service and the profitable results that follow!