Monday, September 15, 2008

Training the front line

I'm here in Phoenix for a few days, witnessing something that I don't think has been done before in the hospitality industry. Embassy Suites has flown two employees from each of their 190+ properties here for a training exercise, with the theme of "Make a Difference."

So, what's so special about it? This is not your run-of-the mill brand conference, full of general managers and owners. This is something specifically designed for front-line workers, the people who are interacting with guests and making the properties run. You know, the people who make a hotel a home-away-from-home, more than just a building full of rooms and beds.

Back in June, general managers were told that they had a few weeks to select the two people from their property who would attend this event. The people selected could not be management types. But beyond that, the decision was left up to each property. Some locations had management vote on who would go. Others knew exactly what standout people to send. Still others allowed the employees to select who the lucky two would be.

The approximately 400 people here are boisterous and excited about being able to move their careers forward in a way that many in their positions are unable. They're also excited about being ambassadors of sorts, bringing the corporate messages, sense of excitement and treat-your-coworker-and-guests-the-way-you-want-to-be-treated ethic back to their properties. This evening's program got off to a great start with dynamic and fun presentations by Jim Holthouser, senior vice president–brand management (who even played the piano to thunderous applause) and Rick McCue, vice president of brand performance and support. The evening reminded me of a revival meeting, due to the passion shown by the attendees.

I've met a lot of great, hard-working people from all over the country. Some have been with the company for the better part of a decade, others a scant few months. One woman from South Carolina gushed that this had been her first time on an airplane. This kind of companywide training can't come cheap, but it seems to me that it will have an impact on employee retention levels, and that, in itself, could pay in the long run.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe a hotel company would invest in this level of employee. Are the days of the management conferences over? I think it is great that a company would spend this kind of $$ in the folks that make sure we are satisfied. Bravo!!

Anonymous said...

I was a part of this great experience and believe me,everyone there left with a smile and love not only for co-workers and guest but for all man kind...thanks Embassy Siutes for helping me
Make A Difference.....

Tyler Carlson/Anchorage, AK said...

I had the privilege of attending this conference down in AZ. I was floored the entire time seeing fellow employees show the same passion and enthusiasm I have for my job. The teamwork and bonding we all shared in AZ is not something you can replicate. In showing me how to “make a difference” in our guests lives, Embassy suites has made a difference in my life. Thank you!