As part of a keynote presentation at the 2012 International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS), representatives from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (EI) stressed the importance of certification programs in the hospitality industry. EI offers over 20 different types of certification programs through its partners worldwide. Chris Jack, vice president of certification for EI, said hotels and employees that gain certification help promote the professional competency of the industry.
In 2011, EI introduced a program called Guest Service Gold that helps hotels achieve a new level of guest satisfaction. As part of this program, hotel team members are encouraged to make personal connections and provide guests with memorable experiences. “We wanted to go above and beyond the basics of guest service,” said Monique Donahue, vice president, research and development for EI. “We really wanted to build a program that was about making a personal connection with a guest and giving them an experience that they would want to go out and rave about.”
Employees who complete the training earn the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP) designation. Properties that certify 100 percent of their front-line staff achieves the title of Certified Guest Service Property—the first property-wide certification offered by EI.
In August, the Best Western Plus Vineyard Inn & Suites, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York, became Best Western’s first hotel deemed a Certified Guest Service Property.
“This course has nothing to do with things like how to make a good reservation, how to make a bed in under 10 minutes, or how to fix a broken sink,” said Dr. Lynn Thurston, president of the 57-room hotel. “Every person that goes through the program has to keep it real. Guests know if you’re faking it. So, how do you keep it real? You be yourself.”
Thurston explained that since implementing the Guest Service Gold program into the hotel, employee satisfaction scores are on the rise. In 2012, the hotel earned a score of 96 percent from employee satisfaction surveys, compared to percentages that hovered in the 80-percent range in the previous three years.
According to Tracy Ripa, senior director of quality assurance for Wyndham Worldwide, employee and property certifications not only improve the satisfaction of hotel team members, but directly impact a hotel’s bottom line.
“We do have numbers that we provide our franchisees that show the ROI and how RevPAR is increased by having service levels increased,” she said. “When you invest in people, people invest back in your business.”
Panelists during the seminar also explained that certifications are differentiators for individuals who may be applying for jobs within the hospitality industry.
“We use certification as a benchmark of a person’s knowledge, competency, and capability within their job tasks,” said Michael Nalley, senior manager, education and training services for Best Western International. “It tells me that they have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to grow within their position and within the industry.”
Currently, EI is working with Smith Travel Research (STR) to offer a new type of certification called STAR Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics (CHIA) to students in hospitality schools through a pilot program. This certification is interwoven with course work and ensures that students understand how to interpret, analyze, and implement industry data within their chosen career professions.
“It’s going to be a great tool for our students to be able to have some sort of distinction that they are conversant and are up to a certain level of understanding,” said Robert M. O'Halloran, professor and chair, Department of Hospitality Management, Eastern Carolina University. “That certification in lodging analytics is going to jump off the page. It might not get you the job, but it might get you the interview.”
Jack said that the EI will continue to roll out the CHIA program to hospitality schools, but will also begin offering the certification to other industry executives in the near future. The panelists all agreed that this new type of certification will be a valuable distinction for hotel professionals moving forward as hotel and franchise owners seek ways to set themselves apart from same-market competition.
Monday, June 10, 2013 by best social bookmarks
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Wednesday, June 05, 2013 by social bookmarking service
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012 by Ethan
Chris Jack is a wonderful asset to EI. He is my favorite uncle and is also very funny. But he's not a very good golfer.