Forget pricing strategies, marketing or new facilities; by teaching service staff a new language (or two), hotels can significantly increase their competitiveness, in many different ways. Here are three reasons why language learning should be a priority this year:
It is impossible to separate language with service. We have all sat down in a restaurant abroad, ordered a dish, only to receive a completely different one 20 minutes later. In Asia, the Chinese are becoming one of the most important and valuable travel segment for hotels, yet Chinese tourists rate the Mandarin language proficiency of staff highly when choosing where to stay. To training front-line staff in Mandarin, service staff will have the skills and confidence to be able to provide the best service possible to their Chinese guests, resulting in better service and higher guest loyalty.
There are massive benefits to learning a new language. These can range from improved career prospects, higher pay and more opportunity, to more confidence, an ability to deal with any situation to happier relations with guests. These benefits translate directly into job satisfaction, which is key to improving staff retention. The hospitality industry has a notoriously high turnover rate, thanks to long hours and relatively low pay. Any increase in staff retention will have significant cost savings for the HR department.
Two words that every hotel owner loves to hear (as well as higher profit), when done correctly, language training can significantly lower operating costs for hotels. Every property should have a training program in place, and for language training, this has traditionally involved classroom-based learning, in which employees are required to spend hours during the working week to attend tuition. This costs money, for the hiring of tutors, books and training aids, as well as the opportunity costs of taking staff out of front-line duty. Mobile learning can negate this, as learning can be done remotely and at a time of the employees’ choosing (so on the bus on the way to work, or during lunch break). Lower tuition costs yet more effective learning would not only lower operational costs, but also result in better service and higher profit.