Soft Skills Training for Front Line Hotel Associates

Ramiah Daniels, Director, Hospitality Paradigm

Hospitality Biz, July 19, 2012

When one travels internationally, it amazes us how levels of service are not at par in most cases. While parts of the western world have honed the art of “processed” service, parts of the eastern world have endorsed the art of the “warm human element” in their services.

Scenario in India

Currently, India as a developing nation does not have the strength of great efficiency and infrastructure, but its warm culture sets it apart from the west. This is what hotels must realise and capitalise on, as this is our real differentiator.

In spite of salaries climbing the scales, hotels also realise that money is no longer the sole motivator to retain good talent. Self-development and learning along with achievement motivation, has climbed up the Gen Y employee need charts this century, and this has to be addressed by the learning and development cells in hospitality organisations.

There is no doubt that guest contact is a special art, and the hotel industry has recognised this. With falling “staff to room” ratios over the years, one would suppose that guest contact would reduce alongside. However, the staff has become more receptive and sensitive to guest needs.

One of the issues that bother hoteliers is reaping benefits from brand ambassadors. It is now an accepted fact that associates at the shop floor are the actual experience enhancers. The majority of wow factors from a hotel would stem from superlative guest experiences with these front-line staff, hence looking at creating brand ambassadors out of them is the way to go.


Exceptional customer service can be achieved via training through a combination of two ways, procedural and convivial training. Broadly, procedural training covers the policies and procedures of the organisation while convivial training cover the soft skills required to enhance the guest experience.

Thus, procedural training would cover the technical aspects of grooming, guest preferences, telephone handling, sequence of service, modes of service, recipes, standard procedures, etc. while convivial training would cover the gentler nuances like body language, teamwork, flexibility, caring, empathy, motivation, a positive attitude, telephone etiquette, etc.

There was a time when “repeat guest” recognition was a supreme form of guest delight – now it is simply a necessary tool for guest satisfaction. The “wow” factor has reduced, as most hospitality organisations embrace this nowadays as the guest has already had multiple experiences in being recognised in various hotels. Thus, what was initially an experience enhancer is now simply a regular experience for the guest. Nowadays, the guest looks for those special “moments of truth”, which buy his unending loyalty. Hence, what worked procedurally in creating guest delight until a few years ago now requires a convivial supplement.