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Chapter 6 Training for service.

Hospitality Principle:

Train your employees, then train them some more,

The how and why of every operation may be clear as day to you, but it's clear as mud to a brand new employee. You wouldn't believe the number of employees who say "I never could figure out exactly what they wanted me to do." They usually say that on their way out the door.

--T. Scott Gross, Positively Outrageous Service


After reading this chapter, you should understand:

* The importance of training and development to hospitality organizations.

* The principles and methods used by hospitality organizations to train and develop their employees.

* Methods used by hospitality organizations use to measure the effectiveness of training.


employee development

external training

internal training

training methods

Heskett, Sasser, and Hart tell the story about a bellman at a Sheraton Hotel who when confronted with an unusual problem implemented an ingenious solution. (1) A departing guest had locked his car keys in his trunk while checking out. The car was parked in the middle of the driveway that handled all the arriving and departing traffic and, if not immediately moved, would bring the entire check-in/checkout process to a halt. The bellman called for a floor jack which he had had the foresight to store away nearby, jacked the car up, and rolled it away from the middle of the driveway. He told the guest he had called for a locksmith, estimated how long it would take for the locksmith to arrive, and promised to keep the guest informed as events unfolded. The traffic problem was solved, the guest's car problem was promptly addressed, and the guest was spared the embarrassment of being the cause of everyone else's delay.

Teaching such resourcefulness to new employees is difficult, but every new employee in the area learned from the bellman's example what a Sheraton employee is expected to do to solve a guest's problem. The bellman had the big picture: he knew that a creative solution was expected of him, and he delivered one.

Len Berry has identified five key factors customers use to judge the overall quality of service. (2) Of these five, four are directly related to the ability of the service employee to deliver service in the way the customer expects, and the fifth, tangibles, includes the appearance of the service employee. The other four are reliability (the ability of the organization and its employees to deliver service consistently, reliably, and accurately), responsiveness (the willingness of the organization's employees to provide prompt service and help customers), assurance (the employee's knowledge, courtesy, and ability to convey trust), and empathy (the employee's willingness to provide caring and individualized attention to each customer).

While the hospitality organization's service, environment, and nonhuman component of the delivery system are clearly important in forming the guest's impression of the guest experience, guestologists know that the individual hospitality employee delivering the service can make or break the organization's relationship with the guest in each and every encounter, or moment of truth. Mary Jo Bitner sums up the research on this subject: "First and foremost, customer satisfaction depends directly and most immediately on the management and monitoring of individual service encounters." (3) Everyone remembers a truly bad service experience that was caused by an indifferent, uncaring, discourteous, or ignorant employee. One awful experience can overshadow the rest of the outstanding experiences that the customer may have had with the organization. The customer may never return to the organization and, even worse, may tell others about the one bad experience so no friends will come either. Disney estimates that each guest has 74 service encounters in a single visit to its theme parks. (4) Disney managers know how important it is to manage every one of these encounters by getting the right people selected and trained to provide the consistent quality of guest service that customers expect.

The impact of a negative experience on the organization's reputation can be devastating. The disappointed guest won't come back and will spread the bad word. Excellent hospitality organizations recognize the value of investing time and money on employee training and development to prevent service disasters. Engineers can design an efficient service delivery system and the human resources department can select the right people, but those efforts are not enough. Companies that consistently deliver high-quality guest experiences also extensively and continuously train their people.


Although the average company that trains spends an amount equal to 1.5 percent of its payroll on training-related efforts, the best organizations spend a lot more. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, for example, provides at least 120 hours of training per employee each year. (5) The Ritz-Carlton knows the value of ensuring that employees have the ability, skills, and knowledge to deliver the high-quality service their customers expect. A commonly accepted rule of thumb is that each training dollar yields $30 in productivity gains in the next three years, (6) and outstanding service providers are willing to make the investment to reap these productivity outcomes. Federal Express spends nearly 4.5 percent of its payroll on training annually. It invested nearly $70 million to build a totally automated education certificate system that provides training to 40,000 couriers and agents in 700 locations. Holiday Inns Worldwide spends more than twice as much on training as most other hotel companies. The return on that training investment is a drop in guest complaints in some hotels from 200 per month to two or three with a simultaneous revenue increase of 15 percent. (7)

Hospitality organizations face the special challenge of training not only the required job or task skills; they must also teach the server how to interact positively with guests and how to solve inevitable problems creatively. A car going down the assembly line doesn't care if the auto worker has a bad attitude. The customer facing the bartender at a private club, the front-desk agent at the Marriott, or the ticket seller at a Broadway play certainly does. Guest service employees must be trained to do the required job task consistently for each guest in real time, with many different types of people looking over their shoulders and with a sense of positive caring. This is a major training task. It goes far beyond the simple requirements of training someone to mix a martini, check in a guest to the proper hotel room, or receive money and make change.

Training at Disney

Disney uses an extensive training program to teach new employees how to do their assigned jobs and how to deal with guests in a manner consistent with guest expectations about what the Disney experience should be and how employees who deliver it should act. Visitors to Walt Disney World Resort assume employees will be competent at the technical aspects of their jobs, but they also arrive with high expectations about the level of employee caring, consistency, and enthusiasm. A street cleaner inside the Magic Kingdom can quickly learn the mechanics of operating a pickup broom and dustpan. Learning the rest of the job, however, can be an enormous challenge. The street sweeper is to many guests the always-handy expert on where everything is, the available extra person to snap a group photo, or the symbol of continuing reassurance that the park is clean, safe, and friendly for all. To prepare that person properly for those multiple roles is an essential training task.

Disney's innovative Traditions training program is required for all new employees. The program teaches them the company's history, achievements, quality standards, and philosophy, details the responsibilities of new cast members in creating the Disney "show," and provides a tour of the property. It becomes the first exposure for new employees to the culture that unites all Disney cast members in a common bond. Here they are taught the four parts of the Disney mission in their order of importance: safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency. They also receive an introduction to company policies and procedures, a summary of recreational and social benefits available, and an introduction and orientation to each cast member's new work area. Above all, and regardless of their job assignments, cast members learn that Job #1 is creating happiness in guests. A supervisor/mentor then teaches the new employee the necessary job skills. The Traditions training is a combination of classroom experiences, with both instructors and interactive videos at Disney University, and on-the-job training. After a set period of time, employees are evaluated to ensure that the training provided was sufficient to teach new cast members the Disney way and their individual job responsibilities.

Wall-to-Wall Training at SAS

Other organizations also appreciate the value of including every employee in a training program. When Jan Carlzon took over the ailing Scandinavian Airline Services in 1980, he immediately recognized the deficiencies in the airline's strategy and its employees' understanding of the airline's mission. He launched a service quality training program for all 20,000 employees that eventually cost several million dollars at a time when SAS was losing $17 million a year. Because it involved training every employee throughout the airline, this concept became known as wall-to-wall training. Karl Albrecht, the author of At America's Service, says, "He wanted the message [of service quality importance] presented in its original, compelling, unfiltered, undiminished form to every SAS employee." (8) Albrecht suggests this was the first time a major corporation used a 100 percent training process to help create a cultural change in an organization. Every employee from shop workers to top managers went through a two-day workshop entitled "The New SAS."

This program was so successful in creating a total organizational enthusiasm for service excellence that Carlzon initiated a second program in 1983. This follow-up was designed to teach everyone in the organization how to read the company's financial statements. Carlzon believed that if everyone could understand these statements, they would better understand where the revenues came from, where the money went, how much it cost to run the company, and how much each employee could influence profit. The success of these wall-to-wall training efforts at SAS encouraged other organizations to train their entire workforce, including British Airways, which trained all of its 37,000 employees. (9)

Hospitality service providers should not only be trained in the skills necessary to deliver the service expected; they should also be taught the company's values, practices, strategies, products, and policies. This knowledge helps them figure out how to fix a problem when a customer is unhappy. Unless they understand the corporate values and beliefs, they cannot know what the company expects them to do. Because the guest defines the quality and value of the guest experience, hospitality service providers should also learn about their customers' expectations, competitors' services and strategies, industry trends and developments, and the general business environment. (10) Even a cab driver needs to know more than how to drive a car to meet the service expectations of the rider in the back seat.

Berry's Five Training Principles

Len Berry recommends that service companies, including hospitality organizations, should follow five key principles in developing an effective training strategy: (11)

1. Focus on critical skills and knowledge.

2. Start strong and teach the big picture.

3. Formalize learning as a process.

4. Use multiple learning approaches.

5. Seek continuous improvement.

We shall discuss each of these in turn.

Critical Skills

Critical skills are those that service employees simply must have. A hospitality organization can identify critical skills through a systematic analysis of the service, delivery systems, and staff and also by asking its guests and employees. The guests can tell you what employee skills are related to their own satisfaction, and employees can be trained to ask them. The organization can survey regular customers who know the business well. Employees should become involved in the design of training as they have a pretty good idea of what training is needed for their positions even if they may not know how to offer it. Ask the best service providers in the organization. Study the servers who do things well to understand what everyone else needs to learn. Study what the best do and what they know.

The Big Picture

Teaching the big picture is teaching employees the organization's overall values, purposes, and culture, and how what they do helps the organization succeed. This is what Jan Carlzon did with SAS, and it paid handsome dividends for this organization. Once he told the people what things they did that helped and what they did that hurt the organization, they could understand for themselves how their performance and skills added to the airline's success. New employees in any organization are usually eager to learn the organization's core values and what the company is all about so they can see how their jobs fit into the big picture. When an employee is later confronted with a problem situation that doesn't exist in a handbook or a training manual, the core values learned and accepted during training should lead that employee to do the right thing for the customer. Since so many situations in services are unplanned and unplannable, teaching the big picture and core values is especially critical. People who are taught the values and beliefs from the first day are far more likely to make the right choice for the customer and the organization when the situation calls for decisive action.

Formalized Learning

Formalizing learning means to build learning into the job, make learning mandatory for everyone, and institutionalize that expectation. Send employees to learning opportunities, and do it on company time. By putting their money where their values are, organizations can send a strong message to employees that learning is vital to the organization and that everyone must participate. Motorola, an organization that has made a commitment to lifelong learning programs for its employees, has linked training programs to the company's strategic objectives. For example, it set an objective of reducing product development time and offered a course to teach its key people how to achieve the objective. (12)

Varied Approaches

Using a variety of learning approaches is also important. Berry recommends leaving no opportunity unexplored. In addition to traditional methods, he suggests that organizations sponsor book clubs, send employees out to observe exceptional organizations in the service industry to benchmark against the best, and constantly practice the necessary skills through a variety of means.

Continuous Improvement

A commitment to continuous improvement is essential. The initial training provides the KSAs that enable employees to begin doing their jobs. But training shouldn't stop there. Good service organizations and good employees both want continuing employee improvement through on-the-job training and supervision, special training sessions, video demonstrations, on-line courses, and the full range of training methods available to modern organizations.


If you don't know what your training is or is not accomplishing now, you cannot know how to improve it. Obviously what you hope to learn is whether or not the content of the training has somehow been transferred from trainer to trainee. Four basic measurement methods are available. They range in expense and degree of accuracy in measuring training effectiveness.

Participant Feedback

The first, cheapest, and most commonly used measure of assessing training effectiveness is asking the participants. They fill out a questionnaire on some general evaluation criteria. Since these questionnaires tend to reflect the entertainment value of the training rather than its effectiveness, they have relatively little usefulness for accurate program evaluation. At least they tell you if the participants enjoyed the training.

Content Mastery

A second, more sophisticated measure is to test for content mastery. After all, if the point of the training was to learn some specific skill, competency, or content area, then it should be possible to design a test to determine whether participants learned what they were supposed to learn. These measures can be as simple as paper-and-pencil tests similar to academic exams or as elaborate as on-the-job demonstrations of how well participants mastered the skill.

Behavioral Change

A third and more advanced level of measurement is to assess the behavioral change in the participant. Many people quickly forget what they learned in classroom settings, especially if they don't apply it. "Use it or lose it," as the saying goes. College students often say they learn a subject well enough to get through the final exam and then flush all the information out of their brains. To be effective in any meaningful way, training must be followed by real and lasting behavioral changes when the employee returns to the job. If the training is well designed and anchored to mastering specific service-related competencies or skills and if the behaviors are reinforced by positive results or what happens on the job, then positive, measurable behavioral change should result.

Organizational Performance

The final and most sophisticated level of evaluating the effectiveness of training is to watch what happens to the measures of overall organizational performance. The training may be well received, the employees may remember most of it upon completion, and they may continue to use it on the job, but the training is useless unless it eventually contributes to overall organizational effectiveness in some tangible way. To maintain the organization's competitive position, the training objectives and the training program require constant monitoring to make sure they continue to prepare employees to provide the level of service expected by an ever-changing customer.


What Do We Need?

Training should always be preceded by a needs assessment to determine if perceived organizational problems or weaknesses are related to training or something else. What do we need? Will training give it to us? For example, a service problem might be initially identified as a training issue, to be solved by offering servers a short training session. Upon closer examination, however, the issue might turn out to be a fault in the nonhuman part of the service delivery system. Constant guest complaints about slow beverage service at a local restaurant might seem at first to require training for the servers. But maybe the coolers in the beverage service area are too small. All the server training in the world can not correct a flaw in some other part of the service delivery system.

Needs assessment takes place at three levels: organizational, task, and individual. The organizational analysis seeks to identify which skills and competencies the organization needs and whether or not it has them already. If, for example, the organizational analysis reveals a need for several new restaurant managers in the Boston market and people to fill that need are not available, the organization would initiate a training program to prepare either existing employees or new entrants to be restaurant managers in that market. The second level of analysis is the task. What tasks need to be performed? Are they being done well, or is training needed? Most training in the hospitality industry is at the task level, either to prepare new or newly promoted employees to perform the necessary job tasks or to retrain existing employees when existing task requirements change. At the third or individual level, the organization reviews the performance of people doing tasks to determine if they are performing up to job standards. Once the organization's needs at these three levels have been assessed, training programs can be set up to meet them.

Solving the Guest's Problem

This needs assessment also leads to identifying the objectives of training. If the needs analysis reveals a lack of some important employee skill, then the training objective would be to ensure that each employee needing that specific skill to perform effectively has it. If, for example, guest comment cards show general dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of a hotel's front-desk agents in checking guests in and out, then the training objective would be to improve their mastery of the check-in and checkout procedures. The point is that training works best if tied to solving a service problem that can be identified, measured, and remedied through training.

Guest feedback about service problems or failures should serve as an important trigger for training. If the guests perceive a problem with employee performance, you have a problem with employee training, regardless of what you think you've already done. You have a need, whether your needs assessment has revealed it or not. The effective hospitality organizations are constantly measuring and monitoring the performance of their people, systems, and services to identify problems. Many problems in delivering the guest experience are caused by the people part of the delivery system. If managers learn about these problems quickly, either from guests or their own observation, they can quickly institute corrective training to get things right before other guests have the same problems.

External Training

Training can be provided by persons inside or outside the organization. Many organizations are not large enough to afford their own internal training departments. Unless the owner/operators of these smaller organizations are willing to do the training themselves, they generally turn to training consultants or to independent training organizations. These external training companies range from small organizations with an expertise and reputation in training within some specialized area of a particular industry, to large multinationals that offer training programs on just about any skill, area, or topic imaginable. Universities and colleges are also important sources of training as their faculty members frequently have job or industry expertise and the teaching experience and ability to convey it. The easiest way to learn what expertise is available in a community is to call the local educational institution and ask about the availability of courses in the area where training is needed. Most universities, for example, have banking and finance departments, retail marketing expertise, or even hotel and restaurant management programs. The people teaching the material to college students can also teach your employees.

While many companies contract with training organizations that develop and deliver customized, on-site training, others send their employees to more generic, often less expensive external programs. If the required training is in some highly specialized area or if only a few people need it, a company-specific program would probably not be worth the expenditure, so employees needing training are sent outside to get it. Advanced techniques of financial management, information systems design and use, computer skills, and new marketing strategies are examples of specialized programs frequently offered through universities and other organizations that provide generic training for the general public. These programs can make up for their lack of specific application to the industry or firm by being relatively inexpensive.

Training in even more general topics such as supervision, human relations, and services orientation is frequently available through these same organizations. Universities offer similar programs through their executive development and continuing education programs. These programs can be a fairly inexpensive way to send one or two key people to get some important training if producing a specially tailored in-house program would cost too much. Frequently, trade associations also offer programs that focus on topics of interest to their members, such as working with unions, new purchasing techniques, sanitation in foodservice organizations, and the rules and regulations in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The common interest of the membership means that the organizations can collectively hire an expert consultant, or use someone from a member organization who has mastered the topic, to educate and train others in the industry. Trade associations also frequently offer certification programs in topic areas of interest to their membership. The American Hotel and Motel Association, National Restaurant Association, and the Professional Convention Management Association have all developed training products for their members.

Internal Training

In-house training departments are widely found in larger hospitality organizations. Every major company has an internal training unit that provides programs to its employees. Hyatt, Marriott, McDonald's, Holiday Inn Worldwide, Darden Restaurants, and Disney are all multiunit organizations that have internal training departments. Some companies have even set up their own "universities," such as Hamburger University for McDonald's, Quality University for American Express (one course: How to Treat the Customer 101), and Suits U for Hart, Schaffner, & Marx. Some companies sponsor "virtual" universities that can be brought to any site where employee training is needed. Holiday Inns Worldwide provides a great example of how to use this virtual type of educational strategy. The corporation shut down its Memphis campus in 1990 and replaced it with sixteen training teams, each with a customized van, laptop computers, and all the materials needed to take training to individual hotels throughout the Holiday Inn market. The program, called Road Scholars, was so successful that it led to another training-delivery concept called Project Darwin. This project created thirty-three training regions, each with a full-time service delivery consultant who works with the thirty to thirty-five hotels in that region to help them discover ways to improve their revenue and service levels through training. (13)

Training Costs

Although some organizations keep all training in-house to preserve the organizational security and culture, the usual determinant of whether to use in-house or outside training is cost. Cost is determined by the number and location of employees who need training and the level of expertise they need to acquire. If only a few employees need highly technical training, the training will be expensive for the organization to deliver itself; if the employees are scattered at multiple locations, the training will cost even more. But if those employees need only some basic skills training, the organization will probably offer it internally. If many employees at a single location need training, the organization will probably find a way to do its own training. The high employee turnover that is a basic problem for many hospitality organizations can influence the decision. An organization of 1,000 employees with an annual employee turnover rate of 200 percent has the same basic training requirements for new employees as an organization of 20,000 employees with a 10 percent turnover. Likewise, the level of expertise that the training must develop in these new employees has an important impact on the training cost. If considerable employee expertise will be required, training costs will be high. Offering 100 training hours to 10 new employees who will be responsible for operating a sophisticated point-of-sale electronic system as ticket sellers in a theme park might cost about as much as offering ten training hours to 1,000 employees hired to work at a fast-food drive-through window.

The Cost of Turnover

When the training costs associated with turnover are analyzed, as new people must be trained in skills that departing people had already acquired, the importance of developing a managerial strategy that minimizes turnover and maximizes retention becomes apparent. These turnover and training-cost numbers show why organizations are frequently torn between designing a job task in a way that makes it challenging, complicated, and interesting (to reduce turnover) and designing the task to be quickly learned and easy to do (to reduce training costs). In the former situation, if the strategy does not reduce the turnover typically found in the hospitality industry, the organization will be constantly investing heavily in new employees who won't stay long enough to justify the cost of training. On the other hand, the simple, boring, and repetitive jobs are the ones that tend to have high levels of turnover. Obviously, this is something of a chicken-and-egg problem: more interesting jobs might lead to lower turnover, but most organizations are unwilling to pay the costs to find out.

Unrelated to training is one more cost of turnover: the cost of disappointed customers. Guests frequently build relationships with servers, and being served again and again by the same person is part of the value they receive from an organization's guest experience. If turnover is high, these relationships are destroyed or don't get built at all, and a powerful means for retaining repeat guests--the familiar face--is lost. As the "Cheers" TV theme song reminded us, "You want to go where everybody knows your name."


The most common training methods are classroom presentations, video (either live or taped), one-on-one supervised experiences, home study, and computerized presentations (on-line, interactive, or programmed). Many training programs use a combination of presentation techniques with increasing emphasis on the computerized training and multimedia methods as computers become more widely available and people become more comfortable with them.

Training in the Classroom

Classroom presentations can follow a variety of formats. The most common is the lecture presentation. A knowledgeable expert talks to employees in the hope that they can learn the necessary skill or knowledge in the available lecture time. The approach is based on the assumption that an expert can train the uninformed by speaking to them. The degree to which this assumption has been disproved by research on learning doesn't seem to deter its continued use. The method has advantages: It's cheap, time efficient, and to the point. If one of the top performers in the company stands up and tells you what she knows, she may not feel the need to develop elaborate visual aids, computerized instructional screens, or anything else that takes time and money to produce. Since she has been there, done that, and done it well, she is obviously worth listening to and will have great credibility with employees. Sometimes, these assumptions may even prove accurate. This strategy is combined with on-the-job training and mentoring to help reinforce the important points made in the classroom presentation.

Another basic classroom technique is the interactive case study. Here, the organization provides learners with some case material for discussion. Perhaps the material is related to the skill they need to learn, or it may be broader material to teach the more general skills of decision making or problem solving. More recently, with the increasing emphasis in organizations on teams and team leadership, team-based training is becoming popular. Leaderless groups may be given a problem to solve or an issue to address, and they are supposed to form themselves into collaborative problem-solving teams. People learn to work together, but they also learn about discovering and sharing the tremendous amount of knowledge that often exists within a team. Smart managers take advantage of team knowledge; most managers never discover its power.

An interesting variation on learning to work together and using team knowledge is wilderness training. The great outdoors becomes the classroom, and the team is given problems to solve. The team members learn to trust each other and become aware of how vitally important each team member is to the group's (and the organization's) effectiveness. This type of training was popularized when the Saturn Car Company used it to build teams that could produce high-quality cars. Even in highly specialized training areas, teams can often teach each other specific skills more efficiently than a single instructor can, partly because the sum total of knowledge available in the group can fill in the gaps regarding how the skill is supposed to be performed. Teams also learn to monitor each other's ongoing performance, which should continue after the training program itself ends. (14)

Training Videos

A second major training technique is videos. They are frequently used in conjunction with a live presentation as a way to bring in new material beyond the expertise of the classroom presenter or to add variety to the presentation. For many hospitality organizations, videos are a cost-effective strategy. A centralized training department can make or buy video presentations and then ship them to individual units, all over the world if need be. Smaller, independent hospitality organizations can obtain a wealth of video instruction through either commercial retailers or their trade associations. Larger organizations usually make their own videos. Holiday Inns has a series of instructional videos on all the basics of innkeeping. The company contends that sending out a professional-looking video that captures and holds employee attention is more effective and cheaper than sending training experts to the many hotel locations. In addition, with the high turnover in the hotel industry, an instantly available video is useful and practical. New employees can watch it by themselves and learn the basics of how housekeeping, as one example, is to be performed in a Holiday Inn. Darden Restaurants uses a series of videos to educate new employees in its many Red Lobster and Olive Garden locations across the United States. New servers learn how the different menu items are to be prepared and served, how the guest is to be greeted, and how the waitstaff is supposed to do its job. Darden's goal for its standardized training is to teach its people to provide the same high-quality restaurant experience in every facility throughout the entire chain.

Indeed, one of video's many advantages is to standardize the presentation of the material so that everyone learns the same information and learns how to do the required tasks in the same way. Being able to offer the same high-quality experience every time in every location is quite important for a multiunit operation like a chain or franchised restaurant or hotel where guests have standardized expectations about what the organization is supposed to do, how it provides its service, and what it looks like.

Videos are also relatively cost effective when organizational locations are numerous and widely dispersed. The cost and logistics for Hard Rock Cafe to send a corporate trainer to every location every time a new employee is hired would be prohibitive. But sending training videos to every part of the world to teach new employees how Hard Rock Cafe operates is easy. A well-designed and well-produced video can do an excellent job of holding the new employee's attention, portraying outstanding role models of expected service behavior, and stressing important points. With professional actors in a video showing the correct means of providing guest service, a new employee can see far more easily what the expected behavior is than if an instructor talked for several hours. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to training in service. The making of videos can itself be used as a training technique. The organization can call upon its best employees in the video subject area and have them create and produce the video. Such a "home-made" video lets the participants see that the organization appreciates the quality of their job performance, gives them ownership in the training role, and provides live role models for the new employees to follow. Making a video is an enjoyable and status-enhancing recognition reward for service jobs well done.

Live video is often available to organizations willing to pay for the broadcast time or satellite downlink. The classroom may be in one location, and the students may be at several other locations. They are hooked together through a live satellite feed or via a telephone line. The more elaborate versions of this technique have hook-ups that allow both sending and receiving of video and audio so that the learners and the instructor can talk back and forth, no matter where they are. The cost of live productions is still quite steep, so these training presentations are usually limited to important new information, or information that requires a high level of security, that must be sent to many people at the same time. A new menu item that will be the cornerstone of next month's promotional campaign may be an appropriate subject for live video. Employees need to know, and the restaurant organization may believe it can gain considerable advantage by keeping the information away from its competitors as long as possible. The increasing availability of teleconference facilities, advances in Internet technology, and the escalating costs of sending people to central training locations may make taped and live video presentations an increasingly desirable training option, especially when employees and service units are geographically dispersed.

Videos come quite close to providing the just-in-time education and training that many organizations need in industries like hospitality where the organization, the guest, the technology, and the employees change rapidly.

Training at Home

Home study is another major training method. Here, a trade association or private training organization produces materials that people can receive in their homes and study at their own learning pace. When they have gone through the materials, they take an exam, at home or at a central location. The American Hotel and Motel Association uses home-study material extensively. The home study is ideally backed up with classroom experience, but the geographic dispersion of hotels makes offering classes difficult except in cities where a lot of hotels are clustered together. Home-study courses work well in this industry; they provide skill and knowledge training in topics unique to the hotel business at times and locations convenient for employees--after hours and at home.

One-on-One Training

One-on-one supervised experiences are a typical on-the-job training method. The trainee may attend a short classroom introduction and then be sent to a work station where a supervisor or trainer demonstrates, observes, corrects, and reviews the employee performing the required tasks. This classic learning-by-doing strategy is by far the most commonly used training technique in the hospitality industry; the skills required to do a job are often unique, so the only cost-effective training method is to put new employees in the live job and let them learn it by doing it, under close supervision. The traditional culinary training program is a good illustration of this approach. After a brief classroom experience, future chefs work in real restaurants preparing food for real guests under the watchful eye of a master chef. The one-on-one technique is extensively used in large hospitality organizations because the many tasks to be performed are so varied. Experienced waiters help new ones; the apprentice bartender prepares beverages under the supervision of a master mixologist. Even if some hospitality tasks are quickly learned and readily mastered, the variation among them is so great that putting together a classroom experience or a training video to teach what is essentially a unique skill makes little sense. Many a small organization, like Ralph's Restaurant on the corner, does the same thing. If Ralph can't hire the experience he needs for one of the restaurant's many jobs, then the most efficient and cost-effective training method is for Ralph to teach the new employee "Ralph's Way" of washing dishes, making spaghetti, or serving meals.


Southwest Airlines matches new people with employees who know how to give good service. According to Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg,

New customer relations representatives, for example, go through a four-week learning-by-example process. To start, they get first-hand experience in ground operations. They spend time with the customer service agents selling tickets, issuing boarding passes, tagging bags--doing all the things involved in customer service at the airport. When the new reps return to the Customer Relations Department, they don't just read some standard training manual cover to cover; instead, they team up with senior reps for the next phase of watching and doing. The first week, they listen to the senior people talk on the phone and watch them use the computer system for online research necessary to assist customers. The next week they start learning the computer while they continue to listen to the more experienced reps handle incoming calls. Finally, the employee team reverses roles. (15)

Training at the Computer

Computers are an increasingly commonplace presentation technique. This training method could turn out to be the most exciting and valuable of all. Computers can be used for training in two ways. The simplest is to use a stand-alone machine to teach a specific skill or body of knowledge by means of a preprogrammed presentation. To teach eye-hand coordination skills, perhaps something as simple as a video game could be used to let employees practice the relationships between seeing something and responding appropriately by pressing a trigger to kill a space invader on a computer monitor. "Edutainment" software programs have shown considerable promise in the American educational system and hold even greater promise for the future training and development needs of business. Training that is both fun and educational will reshape the nature of many corporate training efforts, dramatically improve the ability of organizations to teach all types of employees, and accommodate the wide cultural and linguistic variety of our increasingly diverse workforce. Computers never get frustrated with a slow learner and will stay with the student until the educational goal is achieved. (16)

Some skills can be taught by simulating on the computer the real situations that the new employee is expected to face. A restaurant could teach employees how to handle guest complaints by using a computerized simulation with an interactive videodisc or a CD-ROM. The video could display an irate guest and then lead the employee through the complaint-resolution process by letting the trainee take steps to resolve the complaint and then showing the trainee the outcomes of these decisions. A hotel could simulate its front-desk operations so trainees could practice using the front-desk equipment and responding to questions and requests from guests. After the trainee chooses a response by touching the screen at the designated decision point, the video would show what happened after that choice had been made. The organization is using the simulation to show its commitment to guest service, so it will develop the decision outcomes to show what personal and organizational rewards the employee can gain by giving good service. For example, if a guest in the simulation asks the way to a meeting room, the simulation can be set up to reward a highly service-oriented trainee response, such as personally escorting the guest to the meeting room. Each option chosen in the simulated encounter could be rewarded (or not rewarded) by both guest and organization in a different way.

Federal Express uses 1,225 videodiscs, updated monthly, in more than 700 locations as the core of its automated educational certification system. (17) Using this system, it can offer skill-upgrade training for any employees who need it. They are given four hours of company-paid study and preparation time and two hours of self-administered tests. Airlines use sophisticated flight simulators to teach their pilots how to fly different airplanes into different airports and how to prepare for emergency situations. They create a "virtual" airplane with all the controls, physical layout of a cockpit, and simulated motions so that pilots flying the simulator feels like they really are flying an aircraft. Arcades offer simulations of driving cars, flying planes, and similar experiences on a lesser scale that nonetheless develop an appreciation for how to drive or fly without actually putting oneself at risk. Learning to do something without putting oneself or the organization's reputation at risk is the key advantage of a simulated experience. The more advanced simulations allow the employee to practice repeatedly until the performance meets desired standards and can be done in real life on the employee's own.

Even more exciting than virtual-reality simulations and the increasing power of standalone computers to deliver useful and focused training are the new interactive training opportunities available through networked computers, mainly via the Internet. With the increased commercialization of the Internet have come new applications that the original research scientists and college-professor users of the Internet could only dream about. Now live pictures and voice can both be sent over the Internet; these capabilities allow interaction between instructor and learner across the world. Expertise can be delivered anytime, anyplace, to anyone who is on line. On-line access is becoming increasingly available to everyone through many commercial providers.

As the sophistication and quality of this type of training develop, it will increasingly challenge the monopoly of libraries as repositories of knowledge. Once on the Internet, the user can tap into the knowledge in any major library anywhere, or if that is not sufficient, can tap into just about any expertise anywhere. A university business student had a project due on a case study of a brewery in Western Canada. The student logged on to a beer interest group chat room on the Internet and asked if anyone knew anything about this company. Within three days, he had responses from several people, including the wife of the brewery comptroller and the person who had written the case. Needless to say, this student's interest in traditional forms of research, which require plowing through library reference materials, was not heightened by this experience. He learned that he could get the specific information he needed faster and more efficiently through the Internet.

The more sophisticated applications of Internet technology mean that colleges and universities no longer have a monopoly on education in their geographical areas. These developments are a boon to the hospitality industry, as many organizations are multiunit and geographically dispersed. Getting their people to an educational center or a centralized training program is difficult, often impossible. Getting these same people to log onto the Internet is comparatively easy, and the amount of information, knowledge, and even training they can obtain through this medium is enormous. Internet capabilities make just-in-time education a reality as the people needing training can log on to the appropriate site at exactly the time they need it.

Further Approaches to Training

Training can be very specific or somewhat general. The specific is typically used for new entrants who must quickly start performing a job skill well to justify their salary. Consequently, the major training costs tend to be for skills training. It can cover a wide variety of topics ranging from literacy to operating complex electronic systems. Some restaurateurs even find it necessary to teach employees basic bathroom usage and hygiene, including teaching food handlers how to wash their hands.

Marriott has had considerable success with its "Pathways to Independence" program, a company class on basic work skills for former welfare recipients at hotels in fifteen cities. They learn business basics such as showing up on time and life lessons such as personal financial management. (18)

We will touch on several other types of training. For example, retraining is often made available to employees who have burned out, have become unable to perform their current jobs because of technological developments, or whose jobs have been eliminated. Disney has operated a retraining program for many years that tries to "sprinkle Pixie Dust" on employees who have become disenchanted with their present jobs or otherwise lost their enthusiasm. In the program, they can retrain for new jobs that might recapture their enthusiasm or rethink why they are unhappy with their existing jobs, to regain the spirit of doing it the way the guests expect.

Cross-functional training enlarges the workforce's capabilities to do different jobs. The Opryland Hotel cross-trains its front-desk personnel and telephone-reservation operators so that each can help out the other if need be. The front desk often needs help when a number of people wish to check in or check out within a short period of time. The hotel has set up a separate registration desk in the lobby, and when the lines at the front desk start to reach unacceptable limits, these cross-trained operators are called to the separate desk to help serve guests. Since all hospitality organizations have such variable demand patterns, cross-training is often necessary to handle the sudden bulges in guests at different points in the service delivery system. At the same time, it provides task variety and higher interest level for employees, which has significant benefits in employee motivation and morale. Cross-training is clearly a win-win-win situation for guests, hospitality organizations, and employees.

To encourage employees to be more effective and responsive to guests, outstanding hospitality organizations offer training in special competencies, such as working as a team, creative problem solving, communications, relationships, and guest service orientation. These organizations realize that having the job skills is only part of the service requirement for their employees. They know they must also show their employees how to handle the many types of relationships that their guests will expect of them and how to solve the many problems that inevitably occur when different guests bring their different expectations to the guest experience.

Companies have learned that diversity training, attitudinal training, and other efforts to change how people look at other people can have significant payoffs in changing the way their service employees interact with each other and with the many types of guests who come through the entrance.

The Message: Guest Service

One positive benefit of any training is that it reminds the employees of what management thinks is important. Sending people to a training program that focuses attention on service, no matter how effective or ineffective the actual training is, sends a powerful message to all employees that management cares enough about this topic and these people to invest real time and money in them. Any training tends to make employees feel more positively about the area covered, because they recognize the training as a visible show of organizational commitment to improving the area. An added benefit of training is to let trainees know that they are important and that management cares enough about them to invest time and money in their training.


Some possible problems with training are a failure to establish training objectives, measure results, and analyze training costs and benefits.

Know Your Training Objectives

Training programs can run into trouble if the precise nature and objective of the training are unknown or imperfectly defined, or if the outcome expected of the training is hard to define or measure. Such programs are hard to justify or defend when senior management reviews the training budgets. Typical examples of areas in which the effectiveness of training is difficult to measure are "human relations" and "supervisory skills." Since these terms are vague and situationally defined, knowing what and how much training to offer to improve trainees in these areas, and how to measure results, is difficult. Hospitality organizations quite naturally want their employees to have a "service orientation," but the concept is hard to define as is knowing whether the training has resulted in such an outcome. Such training is important, without question. What exactly that training should be and whether it is effective are much more difficult to determine.

Before and After Training

Even so, organizations should try. One measure of change in guest service orientation might be the number of guest complaints before and after training. Or an organization could use paid mystery shoppers to sample the level of service both before and after the training. The point of any such technique is to measure the value added by any training. With no "before" measurement, the organization has little way to know if the measurement after the training represents any improvement. Here, larger organizations have an advantage as they can use different parts of the organization to test different types of training and statistically determine whether or not one training type is more effective than another in terms of reducing guest complaints or increasing positive comments. Another strategy might be for the organization to measure the attitudes of its own employees toward guests both before and after the training. Since we know that the relationship between the attitudes of the guest and the attitudes of hospitality employees is positive, employee attitude may indicate how guests perceive the service level.

Getting Good Value from Training

Training programs have obvious direct costs, but they involve indirect or opportunity costs as well; all the time that trainees spend away from their regular jobs costs money. Training is too expensive for the organization to train everybody in everything, so it must try to get the best value for its money by using those training programs that can be shown to give the greatest positive result in guest satisfaction for the training dollar expended. Too many organizations are at the mercy of consultants selling programs of unproven usefulness and value. Organizations should make the effort to ascertain the value of each training program, whether internal or external, in terms of whether it results in greater guest satisfaction.


Norman Brinker of Chili's said, "People either shrivel or grow. Commit to helping people help themselves." (19)

Training typically focuses on teaching people how to do new jobs for which they have been hired or to overcome deficiencies they may have in performing their current jobs. Employee development, on the other hand, is typically focused on getting people ready for their future. Training tends to look backward to identify and correct employee deficiencies in performing the job today. Development looks forward to identify the skills, competencies, and areas of knowledge that the employee will need to be successful tomorrow. The problem with employee development is that knowing what the future will bring is so hard. Therefore, employee development programs tend to be more general, so measuring them and evaluating their effectiveness is harder.

Tuition Refunds

A good example is the traditional employee tuition-refund policy that many organizations use to encourage employee development. Is the organization doing the right thing for itself or its employees if it pays a tuition refund only for those courses that are directly related to the employee's existing job, or is it doing a better job if it pays for any legitimate course at any legitimate educational institution? In the first case, the policy looks quite practical as it underwrites courses that directly enhance the employee's ability to do a current job. On the other hand, paying for any course regardless of field expands the total pool of knowledge available to the organization. Consider a group of people who are studying different topics in different majors and then bring them together in a quality circle or problem-solving group session to work on an organizational matter. This group's total knowledge will obviously be greater than if everyone had gone through the same educational program or had majored in the same subject. A variety of learning experiences expands the creative potential of both the employee and the organization and therefore increases the possibility of finding new and innovative ways to perform existing jobs and prepare for the future.

Supporting General Education

Supporting any legitimate employee effort to improve, grow, and learn is in the employer's interest. Such support sends a message to employees that the organization values their potential as much as it values their current contributions; it is also a relatively inexpensive employee and organizational development strategy. Even more important is that it supports a learning environment. An organization that actively promotes learning of all kinds sends a powerful message to its employees that it believes the only way it will stay competitive is to learn continuously. These learning organizations promote the active seeking of new knowledge that not only benefits the individual but the entire organization by building its total pool of knowledge. No matter how irrelevant the material may seem, the creative employee will use it to make organizational connections.

The organization will eventually benefit from whatever creativity the educational experience spurred and from the increased loyalty and feeling of support that any employee gets from working for an organization that supports employee education. Forward-looking organizations understand that most of their profits in ten years will be from products or services they don't even know about today. Restricting educational reimbursement programs to those courses the organization thinks are important today may be as silly as trying to predict which products will be around ten years from now.

Supporting Career Development

A good employee development program should also include career development. Very few people picture themselves doing the same thing in the future that they are doing today. An organization that thinks of its own development should also pay careful attention to its current employee development so that the people who are helping the organization succeed today are prepared to help it succeed in the future. Employees tend to believe that the longer a person is with a company, the more that person is worth to the company. Many organizations support that belief by celebrating anniversary dates with parties and pins to show that the organization recognizes and appreciates the employee's commitment to the organization.

Pins and parties are not enough, however, and the outstanding service organizations recognize that the individual's need for personal growth and development must also be satisfied in a well-designed career development path. The hotel housekeeper should be able to see a path to the top of the organization that can be successfully traveled with hard work, dedication, and effort. Too many organizations typecast their employees, and these people know that no one expects them to go very far. Indeed, many employees lack the ability, training, or desire to go very far and don't mind. Trying to convince a successful bellman at a resort hotel to abandon his tip money and "move up" to front-desk manager is a tough sell because many bellmen don't care to give up their higher income (much of it in tips) for the lower salary of an entry-level manager.

On the other hand, the American Dream lives on in the minds of many lower-paid, entry-level employees in the service sector; even if presently content, they know that they may need to do something different some day. The outstanding organizations provide career paths that give talented people the opportunity to realize their dreams. The opportunity is symbolically important, even if employees don't choose to take it.

Get In, Move Up: The Total Development Package

Walt Disney said, "Get in. Be part of it and then move up." (20) CEOs of the best hospitality organizations would agree. They provide many opportunities for employees to grow and develop, and they promote from the ranks. In many hospitality organizations, just about everyone starts at the entry level and works their way up through their individual efforts. Employee growth can be facilitated by means of the many techniques covered in this chapter. Organizations should make it possible for employees with ambition, ability, and a willingness to expend the effort, to rise as far as they want to. Career paths should be made available and visible. The current leaders of many hospitality organizations took advantage of the educational opportunities and the promotional paths available and worked their way to the top. When each entry-level employee can see the same possibility, it provides a general feeling of opportunity for all. The desire to learn, the encouragement of learning, and the assumption that learning can lead to advancement should be an important part of the organization's culture.

The Competition Is Looking

Too many organizations don't offer development programs, and their employees feel permanently stuck where they are. While such organizations may think that keeping their best service employees at the guest contact level is smart, other organizations seek out the stuck people and invite them to join an opportunity to grow and develop.

At Outback

A good example is Outback Steakhouses, which recruits the best restaurant operators it can find. It offers them something most corporate restaurants do not: a chance to participate financially in their own restaurant. Many restaurant operators share a common dream of running their own restaurant. They will tell you that they are working for someone else only until they can save up enough money to buy their own. Outback has recognized this dream and has invited the best operators to run Outback restaurants with an ownership interest. This part-ownership gives them a direct payoff for their ability to run their restaurants well through sharing in the profits that they help to generate. It is a true win-win for both Outback and the operator. Outback gains excellent restaurant operators, and for a relatively small financial commitment, the operators gain an equity interest in an excellent restaurant.

They Want Your Best

Your competitors will always seek to hire your best people and not your worst. Scott Gross is out in your restaurant or resort right now, handing his business card to your best employees. Ignoring the needs of the employee to grow and develop may be an inexpensive short-run strategy, but it will be a long-run expense. Not giving the employees opportunities to grow means that the hospitality organization itself may not grow and develop as rapidly. The best employees you need for your future can always find opportunities elsewhere to use their talents if you don't give them the chance. The key idea behind organization development is that everyone must continue to grow and develop. Skill and knowledge development is a continuous process. It must be ongoing to meet the ongoing changes in the guest's expectations. It is a never-ending journey.

Lessons Learned

1. Teach employees not only job-related skills but also interpersonal skills and creative problem-solving techniques.

2. Do not train to be training; know what outcomes you expect from your training dollars, and measure your training results to be sure you get them.

3. Before training people, check the delivery system technology; the problem may lie there.

4. Develop your people for your organization's future.

5. Do more than just believe in your people; champion their training and development.

6. Reward behaviors learned through training to keep them alive.

Review Questions

1. Virtually all organizations give their employees some training.

A. "Training front-line employees is more important to hospitality organizations than to manufacturing organizations, because hospitality employees are dealing with people, not widgets." Agree or disagree? Discuss.

B. How can organizations try to find out if the training they provided was effective? Can they ever be sure?

2. This chapter presents Berry's five principles of training. How would you set up a training program to apply these principles to restaurant servers?

3. How should a training program for fine dining and casual dining waitstaff be different?

4. The chapter presents several types of training. Match several of those training types to employee types and job types. For example, which techniques described in the chapter might be most effective with restaurant servers? Ride operators at a theme park? Clerks at an information booth on a cruise ship?

A. How do you like to be trained or instructed? Which method or methods work best for you, and why?

B. If the class shares responses to that last question, how do you account for the differences among students?

C. How does all that relate to managing the guest experience in hospitality organizations?

5. What does it mean to "develop" employees anyway? Why is it particularly important to develop employees in hospitality organizations?

6. Some types of hospitality organizations typically experience (and accept) a high rate of entry-level employee turnover. Do you think these organizations should develop their entry-level employees to reduce turnover? Or would they simply be spending money to develop employees who will be moving on anyway, possibly to competitors?


1. Interview three friends who have held jobs. Find out which of the chapter's training methods were used to train them. To what extent were any of your friends "developed" as well?

2. Divide into groups. For the group members who have held jobs, make a list of the different training methods that their organizations used. How are they similar to or different from the methods described in the text?

3. The next few times you visit a service provider, take particular notice of your servers. Although you did not see the training they received, do they seem to be conforming to some training and doing the job as it was designed to be done? If not, where are they going wrong, and why?

4. Interview four employees at a restaurant or hotel to discuss their training. Report your findings back to the class.
Case Studies

Hot Pants at Mideast Airlines

In the early 1970s, the "Somebody Else Up There Loves You"
airline called its planes Love Birds, drinks Love Potions ("Love
Potion Number Nine" was a popular song of the time), peanuts Love
Bites, and drink coupons Love Stamps. Tickets came from Love
Machines. A special kind of stewardess was needed to turn every
trip into a love affair.

Each of the forty original Mideast Airlines stewardesses or
hostesses was chosen for "her own special sparkle." As one
executive recalled, "A cute girl without a great personality was
not good enough." Mideast hired a chic design boutique to design
uniforms for "its long-legged beauties." Applicants had been asked
to come to their interviews wearing hot pants to show off their
legs; the uniform featured hot pants and high boots.

Mideast's president "believes the uniform attracted a special
kind of personality." On graduation day from flight-attendant
class, the forty were lined up in their hot pants and boots. The
president said, "How many of you were cheerleaders, majorettes, or
baton twirlers in high school or college?" More than thirty raised
their hands. Said the president, "The uniform attracted the right
kind of person. They were extroverts who loved to get out there and

They're in the people business."


Hiring for Attitude at Mideast Airlines

Mideast Airlines, according to a brochure, "hires for attitude
and trains for skills. First and foremost, Mideast Airlines looks
for a sense of humor." Mideast's CEO, referred to by Fortune
magazine as "The High Priest of Ha Ha," said, "We look for
attitudes--people with a sense of humor who don't take themselves
too seriously. We'll train you on whatever it is you have to do,
but the one thing Mideast cannot change in people is inherent

During interviews, potential employees might be asked, "Tell me
how you recently used your sense of humor in a work environment.
Tell me how you have used humor to defuse a difficult situation."
The hiring department also looks for humor as prospects interact
with each other during group interviews.


The Beef and Reef Mystery Guest

Sally Salkind has worked for two years as a server at the Beef
and Reef Restaurant while getting her degree in hospitality
management. As a national restaurant chain, the Beef and Reef has
specific written standards about how guest service should be
provided and posts those standards in the kitchen where all
employees can see them. The chain also allows local managers
considerable latitude in training employees and providing service,
so long as unit financial results are satisfactory. Most of the
servers go "by the book" in serving guests, figuring that the
company knows best and that they can't go wrong in following
company standards. But Sally has developed her own very successful
way of opening the service encounter and delivering service
thereafter. Since manager Bill Gordy has had nothing but good
things to say about her performance, she has continued to serve
guests in her own style. Apparently the guests like it; her tips
are among the highest and her average check the highest in the

Early one evening, Bill Gordy informed the servers of a rumor he
had heard at a national meeting: corporate headquarters intended to
use more mystery shoppers in the following month. He said, "I know
you all do the best job possible, and I appreciate it, but next
month, let's all lift our service to a new level." About two weeks
later, as Sally Salkind started to walk to greet a couple who had
just been seated, Bill Gordy whispered to her, "Mystery shoppers. I
can tell them a mile away. Do it by the book, Sally, and you'll be

Sally tried to do it by the book: "Good evening. I'm Sally and
I'm going to be your server tonight." But then Sally got
tongue-tied. She couldn't remember if procedure called for her to
solicit a beverage order, recite the specials, or encourage the
party to choose an appetizer. The rest of the meal went the same
way. The party of two had to ask for information that Sally usually
related in her comfortable, natural way. But when called upon to do
it by the numbers, she couldn't remember what the numbers were. She
had never been so happy to see two people leave.

Several days later, Bill Gordy called Sally into his office and
reprimanded her for not following standard serving procedures at
the very time when following procedures was most important.

"Sally, I had been considering promoting you to head server, but
I can't promote somebody who can't follow simple instructions."

Sally went quickly from surprise, to shock, to anger. She asked
Bill Gordy why, if the procedures posted on the kitchen wall were
so important, he had never said anything about them in her two
years with the restaurant.

"I'm not dumb, Bill. I can learn as well as anyone. But you
never told me that I had to learn that stuff, much less taught me
how to do it. You threw me in the water, and fortunately I could
swim. I did darn well on my own, plus some things I learned in my
hospitality courses. How can you expect me to change my whole way
of doing things with 20 seconds notice?"

Bill Gordy didn't have an answer for Sally's question. He simply
reiterated his criticism, told her that she had embarrassed him and
the restaurant in front of "a big shot from headquarters," and sent
her back to her station.

Sally had been thinking of trying to get a permanent position
with the Beef and Reef organization after she finished her studies,
but she decided that she didn't want to work for an outfit that
gave her little training in how to do the job, complimented her for
the way she did it, then criticized her because she didn't follow
formal procedures and memorize the silly little phrases. She would
stick around for now because the tip income was good, but she would
be looking.

1. What went wrong? Who was at fault?

2. Discuss the pros and cons of a strict set of serving
standards for everybody.

Flint Hill Beef and Lamb

Just before graduating with a degree in hospitality management,
Sally Salkind interviewed with several hospitality organizations.
She was most impressed with Beef and Lamb, a medium-sized
restaurant chain founded by Bob Beef and Larry Lamb. She was
particularly impressed that Bob and Larry had come to campus to do
the interviewing themselves.

Sally got along well with Bob and Larry. They invited her to
corporate headquarters for further interviews, and the impression
she made on other Beef and Lamb executives was exceeded only by the
impression that they made on her. On the second day of her
interview series, she was surprised to be offered a selection of
several assistant manager positions in different cities. She had
relatives and friends in central North Carolina so she picked Flint
Hill, NC, a growing community near Charlotte. The week after her
college graduation, she headed for Flint Hill exuberant with

Smith Hamilton, manager of the Flint Hill Beef and Lamb, had
only the day before been told that he was being sent an assistant
manager. When Sally entered the restaurant, eager to begin the
career that she had trained for, make a good impression, and
justify the faith that Larry and Bob had shown in her, Smith
Hamilton barely gave her the time of day. He told her he was busy
but said that she should "make herself useful." Sally was quite
surprised to receive such a reception at the local level, since she
had been treated so beautifully by the company founders, but she
resolved not to be down about it.

Sally spent her first day walking around in the restaurant,
meeting people, taking notes, asking questions of employees and
guests, and generally getting the lay of the land. Since Smith
Hamilton was too busy to talk to her on the second day, she spent
it in much the same way. By the end of the week, with no help from
Hamilton, Sally had gathered valuable information, given it much
thought, and saw numerous ways in which the already successful
operation of the restaurant could be improved.

The next day, she made her presentation to manager Smith
Hamilton. She was too excited to notice that he kept looking at his
watch. When she finished, he said:

"Young lady, I have made money with this Beef and Lamb
restaurant every year since I have been here. I have 18 years of
experience in the business, and I've got this restaurant set up
just like I want it. Sure, I never went to college, but I know the
food business. All you have is book learning. These ideas of yours
might look good on a homework assignment, but they will not work in
Flint Hill, North Carolina. I don't want all these 'point of sale'
machines you talk about; they aren't worth the money. Neither are
any of your other ideas. Maybe you ought to interview with Beef and
Reef; your high-faluting college notions might be just what that
outfit needs. Or you can stick with me and learn something about
the restaurant business."

1. How did things go so wrong?

2. Should Sally bear any part of the blame? Should the
institution where she received her training in hospitality bear
some blame?

3. If you were Sally, what would you say to Smith Hamilton, and
what would you do? Would you "stick with him and learn something
about the restaurant business"?

Additional Readings

Breiter, Deborah, and Robert H. Woods. 1997. An Analysis of Training Budgets and Training Needs Assessments in Mid-Sized Hotels in the United States. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research 21(2):86-97.

Conrade, G., R. Woods, and J. Ninemeier. 1994. Training in the U.S. Lodging Industry: Perception and Reality. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 35(5):16-21.

Donnellan, Laurel. 1996. Lessons in Staff Development. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 37(6):42-45.

Harris, Kimberley J., and Debra Cannon. 1995. Opinions of Training Methods Used in the Hospitality Industry: A Call for Review. International Journal of Hospitality Management 14(1):79-96.

Lundberg, Craig C., and Cheri A. Young. 1997. Newcomer Socialization: Critical Incidents in Hospitality Organizations. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research 21(2):58-74.

McColgan, Ellyn A. 1997. How Fidelity Invests in Service Professionals. Harvard Business Review 75(1):137-143.

Ninemeier, Jack. 1995. Training Strategies in World-Class Asian Hotels: Relevance to the United States Lodging Industry. Hospitality and Tourism Educator 7(4):21-24.

Scandura, Terri A. 1998. Dysfunctional Mentoring Relationships and Outcomes. Journal of Management 24(3):449-467.

Tracey, J. Bruce, and Michael J. Tews. 1995. Training Effectiveness: Accounting for Individual Characteristics and the Work Environment. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 36(6):36-42.

Young, Cheri A., and Craig C. Lundberg. 1996. Creating a Good First Day on the Job--Allaying Newcomers' Anxiety with Positive Messages. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 37(6):26-33.


(1.) J. L. Heskett,W. E. Sasser, Jr., and C. W. L. Hart. 1990. Service Breakthroughs: Changing the Rules of the Game (New York: The Free Press), p. 109.

(2.) Leonard L. Berry. 1995. On Great Service: A Framework for Action (New York: The Free Press), pp. 78-79.

(3.) Mary Jo Bitner. 1990. Evaluating Service Encounters: The Effects of Physical Surroundings and Employee Responses. Journal of Marketing 54(2):69.

(4.) Mary Jo Bitner. 1995. Building Service Relationships: It's All About Promises. Academy of Marketing Science 23(4):248.

(5.) (May 1999)

(6.) Business Week, March 28, 1994:163.

(7.) Stanley Davis and Jim Botkin. 1994. The Monster Under the Bed: How Business Is Mastering the Opportunity of Knowledge for Profit (New York: Simon & Schuster), p. 97.

(8.) Karl Albrecht. 1988. At America's Service: How Your Company Can Join the Customer Service Revolution (New York: Warner Books), p. 185.

(9.) Ibid.

(10.) Berry, 188.

(11.) Ibid., 191.

(12.) Business Week, March 28, 1994:159.

(13.) Davis and Botkin, 98-99.

(14.) Ibid.

(15.) Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg. 1996. Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success (Austin, TX: Bard Press), p. 287.

(16.) Business Week, February. 28, 1994:81.

(17.) Davis and Botkin, 96.

(18.) Business Week, November 11, 1996:116.

(19.) Norman Brinker and Donald T. Phillips. 1996. On the Brink: The Life and Leadership of Norman Brinker (Arlington, TX: The Summit Publishing Group), p. 194.

(20.) Walt Disney: Famous Quotes. 1994. Printed for Walt Disney Theme Parks and Resorts, 55.
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Title Annotation:Section 2 The Hospitality Service Staff
Publication:Managing the Guest Experience in Hospitality
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Chapter 5 Staffing for service.
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