Industry Update
Opinion Article 6 December 2010

13 Best Practices for Hospitality Training Managers & Directors | By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA CMHS

Keys to Success | A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry

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The forecasts of recovery for the hospitality industry range from "next quarter to next year" depending on where one is located in the world. For those of us who have been in the industry for more than 15 years, we have come to realize that the cycle will reverse itself and we need to be ready to greet guests, serve them efficiently and exceed their exceptions.


The responsibility for ensuring that all associated receive initial and ongoing training to provide that excellent and consistent service varies by type of hospitality business. Larger hotels and companies have internal training staffs. Many branded hotels have access to their brand's general training offerings for a fee and online learning continues to grow.

Late last year, I authored a column titled "A Baker's Dozen" of Strategies for Hospitality Human Resource Managers" that offered specific recommendations that included an overview on training. With the continuing turbulence facing our industry and shaky global economies still identified each month, the responsibility to find the time and resources to train becomes more critical. Like politics, business is often "local" and we must be ready to greet those guests when our local conditions present themselves positively. We need to remember to foundations of our successes and not accept the negativity of the naysayers.

"We learn by example and by direct experience because
there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, 2005

This column addresses the very core of all hotels: the one-on-one interaction of associates and guests. Without the proper planning and implementation of staffing and service, a hospitality business that interacts with guests 24 hours a day for 365 days a year has little chance for ongoing success.

Smaller hotels likely do not always have staff dedicated only to training, but the responsibility remains the same regardless of hotel or staff size. Today's hospitality training team must be effective communicators who can share best practices and examples of "how to" because there always seem to be crises. Those crises might be anything from technology problems to staffing shortages, but thriving in a multiple priority environment is often a requirement

"A Baker's Dozen" of Strategies for

Hospitality Training Managers & Directors

Training differs somewhat from HR roles, in that it often tends to be two fold and more action oriented.


  1. Plan, produce and monitor the annual training budget. Successful training efforts do not just happen. A team leader must work with HR and department heads to identify probable needs and create a viable plan to help operations meet those needs.
  2. Formulate all learning & professional development related policies and procedures and update routinely. As with business forecasts, training needs to be anticipated and evaluated at least quarterly.
  3. Prepare appropriate training needs analyses and career development plans. This is as much for the individual participating in training as it is for the organization. We all like to know "what's in it for me" and having career path potentials can assist both department heads and associates "think ahead."
  4. Plan, produce and monitor the annual learning & professional development master schedule. Training needs to be ingoing. When one steps back and recognizes the changes in technology, the green movement, online learning and more, it becomes obvious that as in #2 above, there is a logical need for a longer term plan with the requirement for updates.

Delivery and Evaluation

  1. Support the timely scheduling and posting of the following month's Training Calendar, incorporating security and safety training sessions to all Department Heads and Executive Committee Members monthly. With the increasing potential of terrorism in hotels and hospitality businesses, the need to regularly review updates and the property's plans are essential.
  2. Assist the Quality Assurance or other managers in monitoring and consolidating month-end training activity reports from all departments. Some properties have limited training staff, but all information relating to professional development and training activities should be recapped in monthly training activity recaps. We all recall the expression, "what gets measured, gets done!"
  3. Assess changes in guest needs, the hotel's guest mix, and industry and competitive trends. Markets change, products and services evolve and having someone who interacts with the front line regularly is an excellent resource to recommend appropriate product, service and operational changes that might improve the guest experience and associate satisfaction. Properties that set our to establish and maintain market domination frequently enjoy outstanding financial results.
  4. Monitor and ensure that all training and development programs are carried out within the allocated budget. Budgets should be regularly reviewed and adjusted as needed, but not overlooked. Training is not the place for major savings, unless perhaps one is considering delaying a major new initiative for a short period of time such as one quarter.
  5. Identify and make available external instructors as necessary to fulfill training objectives. This column has focused on internal trainers, but there are times when external resources are essential.
  6. Conduct New Hire Orientation program for all new employees using current property, brand and/or corporate standards. The expression about making the right first impression remains essential.
  7. Lead New Manager Orientation, clearly reviewing associate handbook information, brand, corporate and property standards. New managers must understand the organizational values and operating procedures from day one.
  8. Oversee and/or conduct compliance courses. As in #5 that discussed safety and security, the need for attention to reasonable care continues to grow. Programs that address product safety and potential liability, such as TIPS and Food Handler, and others involving Safety and/or Security should be addressed, monitored and measured. Some may be mandated by local, provincial/state and/or national government agencies, but attention must be ramped up here. Part of my work includes expert witness and/or consulting on legal issues and there needs to be specific attention paid to these issues by the major brands, as well as individual hotel owners, managers and franchisees.
  9. Lead by example. I have personally been an advocate in my career in ongoing learning. Professional certifications in a wide range of specialties in learning and operations are extremely beneficial because everyone benefits. Trainers need positive leadership and interpersonal skills, yet must also maintain a sense of perspective for those learning.

Please feel free to share your ideas and examples that can be highlighted in future articles.

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:

Remember – It's the Size of Your Idea, not your Budget [1]

The Economy is a Temporary Environment.

When we take the time to analyze why we fail or fall short, we can determine what to do about it .

Contact me for ideas and discussions

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my 2011 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year's writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS, Lessons from the Field, Hotel Common Sense and Principles for Success

1 A 2011 Keynote Address and Workshop

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of , which has more than 2000 resource pages and has become the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers. He is also the Principal of , which offers hotel expert witness services and hospitality consulting..

Contact us for assistance – [email protected] 602-799-5375 : [email protected]

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for our programs, hospitality services and columns. This year's writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™, THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™ and Principles for Success.

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management. This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the author. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

John Dr. John Hogan CHA CMHS CHE CHO
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