Fascinating article on new trend in training for hotel employees — the point is that old “follow the script” approaches don’t really work. To create a great hospitality experience workers need to notice their guests, think, and respond authentically.

This is a major shift and challenge for training. Most training I’ve seen, especially in hospitality, is totally behaviorally oriented. Follow the script. Problem is, people are a lot more complex. Instead in our emotional intelligence trainings, we get people to look inside and understand how to connect in a way that’s authentic for them.

Hotels train employees to think fast
By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY

Excerpts…

The new-style training programs aren’t limited to how to check in a guest or how to stack dishes in a pantry. Instead, they’re aiming to build distinctive organizational cultures that will add to the bottom line by keeping guests satisfied and loyal for years to come. Out of favor are scripted lines that hotel workers utter regardless of whether the customer appears happy, angry, tired or rushed. Now, hotel workers are being trained to speak for themselves, and to help guests in more meaningful and less conventional ways.

The new training pushes employees to understand who their guests are and why they’re at the hotel, and to anticipate what they might need.

[JF: sounds like emotional intelligence!] “Our guests value the design of our hotels, but what they really remember are the people,” says Michelle Crosby, human resources chief at lodging giant Starwood (HOT). “Their loyalty was often to a specific (employee) who’d gone out of their way for them.”

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Starwood decided to focus its training on its workers’ emotions after examining training practices at customer-service leaders like Disney (DIS), Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines (LUV) and JetBlue (JBLU). Crosby, the Starwood executive, says that for too long the industry has been too insular, resisting good customer-service ideas from other industries.

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In other words, emotionally intelligent employees connect at a “heart level” with guests and meet their needs in a way that’s authentic and memorable: The result is customer loyalty.

The missing link is emotionally intelligent leaders who foster a context where people like this can work that magic.

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
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