Why Management Training Is Important

Stepping out of college into the world of hospitality can be very challenging. Lodging is a fast-paced business that requires one to master the skills of multi-tasking, working well under pressure and excelling in customer service. Hotel companies that offer a structured training program provide a variety of experiences that can't be taught in the classroom. The more departments in which young professionals are able to work, the better idea they'll have of how a hotel functions and then be able to deliver great service to guests.

Whether working in a small or large property, rotating throughout each department has many advantages. It's an excellent learning experience that will most likely not be offered for the remainder of a career. From loading dishwashers to checking in guests to attending site inspections to cleaning guestrooms, management trainees should be able to work in every position.

By circulating throughout the hotel, they may be able to generate cost-saving ideas from observations of daily processes. Managers are typically unable to make these observations because they don't have the time or opportunity to compare the systems and functions between different departments.

For example, depending upon the size of the property, several reports are generated daily and distributed to managers around the hotel. During my training in housekeeping and laundry, I noticed that it wasn't necessary for the laundry department to receive some of these reports. After removing laundry from the distribution list of these reports, paper and printing expenses decreased. This is a clear case where an extra set of eyes saved the hotel money and generated a more efficient management process.

While rotating through different departments, trainees gain first-hand experience of several positions in the hotel. During stressful situations they'll be able to understand the circumstances and work with the departments involved. For example, the front desk staff gets frustrated when guests are waiting to check in early in the day and there are few available clean and vacant rooms. I was working at the front desk during one of these pressing days and I could sympathize with the situation. I explained to the guest that the appropriate amount of room attendants were on duty and doing their best, and I would make sure they received one of the first rooms available.

Working in housekeeping a few weeks earlier gave me better knowledge of the strategy required to handle this issue. The demands from guests can be very challenging, so learning respect for the jobs of employees in all departments can provide the patience needed to successfully serve customers.

Directly working with everyone in the hotel is a great way for young hoteliers to learn about a company's corporate culture. When I trained in engineering, I spent a day with the hotel's carpenter, who had been working at the property since the doors opened 10 years earlier. I asked him about his experiences and he told me a strategy that he noticed was effective for past managers: “First, focus on the successful systems that are already in place and make them better; then look at the systems that need improvement and fix them little by little.”

Finally, a management training program should provide a chance to spend quality time with the top executives in the hotel. They should also have the opportunity to learn from top executives' past experience and advice. I had the privilege of shadowing a general manager for a day during a high school summer internship. It was interesting to observe his leadership approach in terms of motivating his employees and in solving guest issues. This was an invaluable experience that can't be taught in schools but is essential to understanding how the management style of the entire hotel starts from the top down.

Following graduation from the Penn State hotel school, Alex Kramer joined the Hyatt Hotels management training program. He's now assistant general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Dallas/Duncanville, TX. He can be reached at alexkram@aol.com.

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