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3 hospitality training innovations we’re excited about

Posted by Emily Tatti on Sep 1, 2017 8:45:00 AM
Emily Tatti

We live in such an exciting time when it comes to technology. It’s incredible when you think about where we were 20 years ago, and where we are today – back then we had no concept of smartphones or e-readers or social media. If you’d told me my next-door neighbor would have his own personal drone, I would have laughed in your face!

When it comes to training and education, innovations in technology have given us access to so many resources that we never had before. This is fantastic for the hospitality industry, where consistent training has always been difficult.

We decided to take a look at some of the most exciting innovations that are happening in training today, and how these things could help further the growth of the hospitality industry. 

1. Mobile training

Of the three technology innovations we’re going to be talking about, this is the most accessible to venues right now, and therefore the most exciting.

Mobile training offers staff access to instant training on any mobile device. We’ve talked about the benefits of mobile training in the past, but the main thing to know is that it enables on-the-go learning, so trainees don’t have to be in a specific place to up their skills. 

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How it could apply to hospitality

The average age of a hospitality worker is 34, and this is set to skew even younger over the coming years. By 2020, it’s estimated that millennials (those aged between 18 and 34) will make up 75% of the workforce.

That’s why it’s so important to start introducing training technology for them now. They are the generation that have thrived on smartphones, YouTube, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb and Spotify – and what do all of those things have in common? They offer convenience and flexibility. They offer the user choice and control. Apply those same principles to your training, and you’ll have a far better chance of engaging with them.

In practical terms, mobile training lets hospitality employees view training material (normally bite-sized video courses) in the kitchen while preparing a meal, in the break room before or during a shift, or on the bus on the way into work. It reduces the limitations that normally prevent training, like costs, time and resourcing.

The best thing about mobile training is that it can be adapted for different purposes. For example, Panera Bread currently use mobile training to teach new staff operational procedures. This means senior staff don’t have to take time out of their day to reteach the same basic material.

Typsy users Solotel, on the other hand, use mobile training to complement their existing face-to-face training.

According to Kurt Bos, the People and Culture Advisor, giving employees access to a suite of content “assists in closing skills gaps, and allows them to learn at their own pace while playing a proactive role in their personal and professional development.”

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

While this next tech innovation sounds kind of futuristic, aspects of artificial intelligence are already part of our everyday lives. We have Siri and self-driving vehicles and online chat bots.

But experts believe AI will grow in leaps and bounds over the next decade. And there is huge potential for it in the education space.

In a recent report by Pearson, it was suggested that we could one day have “lifelong learning companions powered by AI, that can accompany and support individual learners throughout their study – in and beyond school.” 

This is already starting to happen. SochoBot is an AI bot currently being developed by Harvard graduates. People can use it to scan an article or a book for information on a particular topic, and then ask it questions. The bot learns during this conversation, so it can then quiz the person back on their knowledge.

How it could apply to hospitality 

Imagine if your venue had access to a tool that predicted how individuals were going to perform and what factors were likely to influence them, so you could adapt your training accordingly.

Or if you could offer one-on-one AI tutoring to someone who was struggling with a particular skill. There would be no need to assign a busy staff member to the job.

Not only would tools like this help you make your training more personalized and enjoyable, but you could also identify and resolve performance issues before they even arose.

It’s crazy to think about, but this could be an option in the not too distant future.

3. Virtual reality

Thanks to the rise of virtual reality headsets, this method of training is already being rolled out in several industries.

By the end of this year, Walmart will be training all of its retail employees using VR technology. It's pretty simple. Staff members are given the chance to face a real life situation in a simulated environment, like a spill in an aisle or a Black Friday holiday crowd, before they have to face it on their own. What they see is displayed on a monitor, so their manager and other people on the team can offer feedback on their performance. 

AI could be used to take this training even further. At the moment, Walmart’s VR program offers people multiple-choice options for dealing with a scenario, but in the future, it could learn from and react to their decisions and adapt the situation on a more sophisticated level. It could also allow trainees to talk to customers and have those customers react to them like real people.

How it could apply to hospitality

It's easy to see how the above Walmart example could apply to a hospitality venue. But there are other options currently being trialed as well. For example, Google recently tested virtual reality barista training. Baristas were given access to a virtual reality model of an espresso machine, and were taught how to go through the steps of making an espresso. At the end, they were put in front of a real espresso machine to see how well they had retained the information.

On average, it took them two tries to go through the process correctly. There were a few pain points with the VR prototype Google used – people didn’t listen to voiceover commands or hints, which meant they got a bit too close to hot steam nozzles without realizing it – but the experiment hints at a lot of possibilities for hospitality training   

Hilariously, KFC have also just launched their own VR training experience, though it’s still in its early stages. After donning a VR headset, you’re invited to go through the steps of making fried chicken by hand – but the twist is, you’re trapped in an escape room, and The Colonel is watching your every move, and it’s all just creepy as hell (watch the trailer to understand).

It's a pretty genius way to connect with young people though! 

So there you have it. Three of the biggest innovations set to change the future of hospitality training.

Do you think these technologies will improve the industry, and would you introduce them into your own venue? Let us know in the comments!




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Topics: Hotels, Schools, Hospitality managers, Restaurants, Hospitality training