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Matching guest experience to brand promise begins with hospitality training

Hospitality is a people industry, and one with an often-transient workforce. These factors may explain the prevalence of the approach commonly taken by employers to let new recruits ‘learn for themselves’. In today’s blog the Managing Director of HGEM, Steven Pike, tells us just how important hospitality training is and how to make sure it sticks.

On-the-job training has an important role in developing experience and confidence. But enlightened employers are increasingly looking to underpin this with some base level training in the things that are important in the brand promise (which may be different from other places that employees have worked) and how to interpret it for the key parts of a guest experience.

But the benefits of this approach run even deeper. With the levels of staff turnover that are characteristic for the industry, what better reason to get new team members up to speed quickly? That way, you protect the dependability of the experience being delivered to guests and, in turn, you both retain greater loyalty from them and reduce the likelihood of an occasional damaging online review.Furthermore, team members may view their employer in a different light and increase retention. Training and development is important to today’s workforce – 86% of millennials say that if their employer offered career training and development, it would keep them from leaving their current position. If training and development was made more of a priority by employers, it might even help hospitality shake its reputation for not being a long-term career option. But that’s for the long-term – in the meantime, let’s consider some easy wins.

Frame the experience

The first thing we need to do is to define your intended guest experience (the brand promise). At HGEM, we use the GEM Wheel – a framework that breaks down the guest experience into 4 key areas: ‘People’, ‘Process’, ‘Product’ and ‘Place’; and then further into 12 segments which can be both trained and measured.

The brand promise sits at the heart, influencing every segment. So each business may make a different interpretation for each segment, depending on what their brand ‘promises’ guests in terms of the experience. The team ultimately has an influence over how each of these is delivered. Making them feel valued and able to see the ‘bigger picture’ through relevant training and evaluation creates an environment where people are engaged and want to succeed.At HGEM, we can measure the guest experience through operational assessments to reveal the gap between the intended and actual experience. We’ll help you interpret the results and take actions to close the gap.

But we’ve long been keen for our clients to benefit from some learning modules which provide a decent grounding for managers and team members. It’s an aspiration that was shared by our partners at Learning Pool, who were keen to add weight to their hospitality catalogue of e-learning.

Off-the-shelf e-learning modules

As part of the collaboration, HGEM provided the subject matter expertise for hospitality, while Learning Pool built the modules. The modules are aligned with the GEM Wheel framework, so you will find 12 different courses – three for each of the key areas as follows:


  • Making Every Guest Feel Welcome
  • Delivering a Friendly and Personalised Guest Experience
  • Building Relationships Through Conversation


  • Delivering Effortless Service
  • Getting the Timings Right
  • Efficient Payment and Friendly Goodbyes


  • Ensuring Excellent Quality Products
  • Showing Passion for What We Offer
  • Happier Guests Spend More


  • Pride in Our Appearance
  • Getting Guests Through the Door
  • Encouraging Recommendations

Each course takes approximately 25 minutes to complete, and could work well in team meeting sessions where several team members could discuss what the subject matter means to them. The modules are interactive with an overview video and situational questions to test and reinforce knowledge.

Who said formal training had to be time consuming or expensive? The off-the-shelf e-learning modules will be available for clients of both HGEM and Learning Pool as part of existing subscriptions. There is also an option to adapt the content in line with your unique brand promise.

For managers, the modules provide an opportunity to be proactive with matching guest experience to brand promise and promote ownership for results. Or simply to ensure that people have a solid grounding from the off.

For team members, the modules provide an opportunity to reflect on the purpose of their role, helping them to do their job better. As a result, they may buy into your brand and increase their motivation for coming into work every day.

In a competitive and dynamic market, hospitality managers now have a new tool up their sleeve.

About the author

Steven Pike has been Managing Director of HGEM since 2008 and over that time has worked closely with leading operators to interpret how to continually improve HGEM’s tools and services for managing the guest experience.

With an MBA from one of the world’s leading business schools (University of Bath) and experience from multiple sectors, Steven has a deep understanding of business strategy and change management. He also has extensive public-facing experience acquired during his early career as a supermarket manager for Waitrose.


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