The hotel industry is fast paced and ever-changing, but educational programs can help owners and their staff members stay afloat. Best Western International’s education and training team strives to provide owners with the latest information, tools, and expert training, which they can then bring back to their properties. Michael Nalley, director of education, training, and guest feedback at Best Western, discusses the importance of good customer service, strong leadership skills, and staying on top of trends.
What new educational initiatives at Best Western are you excited about right now? There’s a program we’re working on now called “I Care Service Basics.” It’s a follow up to the cultural movement we made in our company about eight years ago and is really focused on going back to the basics and making sure we’re addressing the needs, wants, and desires of the guests. We’re also focused on the arrival and departure experience, so everything from the initial call or reservation, to the guest arrival at the hotel and during their stay, through the departure point.
What other training aspects are you focused on? Leadership is a big area for us right now. We have a program we provide once a month for all new general managers coming into the brand. We’re trying to make sure the leadership of the property is well trained, aware of the dynamics of providing service, and meeting the guest expectations. They also need to know how to be a good leader for their staff, so that training is being provided every time they come in contact with a staff member at the property.
Why are training and ongoing education so important? Lodging is an industry of transition, so many hotels have a lot of people who come in and don’t have a lot of customer service experience. Training is important to help them during that onboarding process and transition into the industry. A lot of the training relates to putting yourself in the guest’s shoes and looking at a situation from the guest’s perspective. If we’re going to provide service or be able to meet and exceed guest expectations, we really need to know what those expectations are. The ongoing aspect is important because we have to keep the training fresh and keep our employees excited and engaged with their jobs and the hotel. It reflects on the service they’re able to provide.
What is the overall mission of the education and training team? For us, staying fresh, keeping it relevant, and making sure we’re providing people with tools and resources they can take back and use at their hotels. All of our staff in the training position have been either general managers or some sort of hotel manager, so they’re very familiar with running a hotel. I’m always trying to think of the next thing we can do to be an asset and a partner in helping staff be successful in their properties. Having these benefits available increases the dedication and the loyalty of the employees to the hotel and to the organization as a whole.
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