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March 21, 2012

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Hotels emphasize staff training

UPSCALE hotels in Shanghai understand the importance of staff training and offer various programs to improve the skills of their employees. It's a win-win scenario as hotels enhance service while employees boost their career prospects, writes Fei Lai.

Training is crucial to employees as it provides information, skills and an understanding of the industry. Hoteliers in Shanghai are now seeing the growing importance of staff training, which brings competitiveness to both individuals and hotels. Several offer staff training programs.

The Peninsula Shanghai has jointly launched a new Diploma of Management Studies for Chinese hospitality professionals early this month with the UK-based Institute of Hospitality and its accredited institution, the Vocational Training Centre in Hong Kong.

Being the brainchild of Joseph W.Y. Chong, general manager of The Peninsula Shanghai, it is the first collaboration of its kind between the institute and the hotel.

Having been a fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, Chong understands the frame and structure of the organization and feels it crucial and ideal to be able to import the expertise and experience to China for his employees.

"The purpose is to help our local employees improve. They are the future of the hotel and the future of the hospitality industry in China," Chong says.

"It is our vision to help them grow and gain more knowledge about the hotel and tourism industries so that they can gain additional confidence in future work and advance within the industry."

The 18-month course started on March 4 and will give Chinese hotel managers an opportunity to study part-time and work at The Peninsula Shanghai.

The Diploma of Management Studies initiative forms part of The Peninsula Shanghai's innovative approach to corporate social responsibility. It has been designed to assist ambitious young people to further their career prospects in China's fast-growing hospitality industry.

The course spreads over six semesters and incorporates business management, marketing and sales, consumer management, finance and business planning, human resources and professional development.

The first intake of 20 carefully selected on-the-job managers covers various departments, including procurement, e-commerce, front-desk management and concierge, spa and guest services.

"We are not choosing those who are very strong and efficient. We see through many angles," Chong says.

"The needs of the hotel and the individuals are our concern. It benefits our employees. It's also a way to create long-term loyalty. We are investing in human capital right now.

"Because it's a responsibility. It's satisfying to see our employees grow whether it's within the industry or within the hotel."

The scheme actually gives managers an unprecedented opportunity to benefit from peerless hotel management education and real-time work experience with a world-renowned hotel brand.

One highlight of the curriculum is that it is delivered by a combination of academic experts and hotel management professionals.

Members of the hotel executive committee will also be assigned as mentors to individual students to guide them through the critical challenges of the course.

While studying, the student will test their leadership skills as they work with the professional teams at The Peninsula Shanghai.

"It really offers high-potential hotel professionals in China an opportunity to enhance their career path," says the general manager. "Young Chinese hotel managers covet international accreditation, and this exceptional course will cater to their educational and career development needs."

Furthermore, Chong says the course is an opportunity for the young to network with professionals in the industry.

"It's all about exposure, growing and reaching our potential in the industry. The right attitude is the most important quality in hotel staff. Because it's the mother of what you become at the end of the day," he concludes.

Jude Tie, senior duty manager at The Peninsula Shanghai, is proud to have been chosen and feels excited. His daily work includes handling inquiries in the hotel lobby.

But now he can learn more about housekeeping, food and beverage and even finance.

"It's an experience sharing course. It's great that we can learn more from each other under the same roof," Tie says. "I'm also eager to know other sectors. It can help me better carry out my work in the future."

At Gran Melia Shanghai, there are two staff training programs, general training and department training. For the general one, the hotel focuses on the hotel's SOP (standard operating procedure), culture and philosophy. For department training, it focuses on personal skills.

The hotel also has fire safety training and makeup training.

Jean Xing, director of marketing and communications, says staff training is really important for both hotel and employees.

"For staff, their quality and skills will be improved within a short time, it's good for their future development," she says.

"For hotel, we can improve service quality and boost the hotel's image."

Xing believes that basic language skills and a good attitude toward work are essential qualifications for a hotel employee.

At Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao, there is also a series of training programs available for new and existing team members, for example, orientation reunion, job skills training, complaint handling, makeup training, standards training and system training.

Moreover, the hotel has a training program for managerial team members.

Jessie Jiang, the hotel's director of human resources, says the purpose of training is to let team members become more familiar with hotel facilities, work related knowledge and skills, the correct attitude and company culture in order to deliver extraordinary guest experiences.

"Without these training programs, not only would these team members lack confidence when delivering service, but we may face serious problems and service consistency during daily operation," Jiang says.

"Professional knowledge, familiarity of Hilton standards, competent skills, a good attitude and good team spirit and a strong sense of belonging are curial."


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