Better guest service and lower managerial turnover distinguish the MVP program from Homewood Suites by Hilton, says Bill Duncan, Homewood vice president and brand manager.

Since Hilton launched MVP three years ago, the annual turnover rate among general managers and sales directors who take the weeklong program has dropped from 50 percent to 14 percent, according to Homewood.

“The rationale behind the MVP program was to give our top players additional, higher-level training,” Duncan says. “They may have gone through our base set of training and done well, but there really wasn't anything additional that we had been providing them, and as their tenure lengthened, we realized they needed specialized, higher-level training.”

That's because serving the extended-stay guest is different, Duncan says. Needs change as the stay lengthens: “As the customer's trip evolves, the managers have to be poised and ready to help at any point,” he says. “For instance, when guests first get to the hotel, they may act like typical transient customers who are in and out quickly. But the longer they stay and demands on them increase, they use more services and have more need for help, like in business services and recommendations. So the staff needs to be attuned to that.”

Homewood pays all expenses for the course, which is held in Memphis. Once they graduate, MVP members “become part of this kind of exclusive group, and we use them on task forces,” Duncan says. “They are the voice of the hotels, and they help us with key initiatives and development of programs.

“They become more invested in the brand because they're helping drive programs,” he says. “We feel their input strengthens these programs, and the fact that we're asking them for that is a key strength of the brand.”

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