At Holiday Inn Express, line-level staff learning always had been conducted traditionally, at individual hotels. Developing an engaging, compelling curriculum to serve a global employee base with limited time and learning budgets called for an innovative, personalized solution.
With a goal of creating a consistent brand offering to support a consistent customer experience for its 1,450 hotels worldwide, trainers wanted to make the learning easy to access and convenient, as well as have it entail little or no expense to its franchise hotels.
Identifying operations-based training as a critical competency, Holiday Inn Express partnered with Root Learning to craft a series of electronic learning modules to convey tactical operations-based learning to line-level staff.
These interactive, 3-D modules were scenario-based, so learners could experience the same module many times and always learn something. Additionally, learners could toggle between languages to personalize the learning even further.
The curriculum was named “Smart Service University,” and it was implemented through an intranet system with which hotels were already familiar, so when the learning component was added, they were already comfortable with accessing the modules.
Having 24×7 access to the modules helped the hotels schedule to their specific learning needs, as well as implement self-paced training, said Hannah Kahn, Holiday Inn Express brand manager.
Holiday Inn Express has begun to assess the learning’s impact in two ways.
First, it tracks the number of hits on the intranet learning modules. There are about 300,000 employees, and within the first year, there were more than 4 million hits on the site.
Second, guest surveys are being analyzed to see whether customer service is reported as better at hotels whose employees are actually using the training. Kahn said the company has noticed an upturn in improvement scores.
These e-learning tools gave Holiday Inn Express a competitive advantage because no other company in its segment has comparable training tools.
“When we talk to our franchisees, we can say that we have cutting-edge training, and that’s huge because they want to put their money where the biggest return is, and training is always a key factor,” Kahn said.
Next steps include moving into management skills because, for most general managers, this is their first leadership role.
Holiday Inn Express is working on ways to expand general managers’ skill sets and, therefore, build stronger teams so they can run better hotels.
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