This article reports on how two luxury hotels added Improv comedy to their employee training program.
The last article, Hotels using iPods to train. Can they replace trainers?, reported how several hotel chains have transferred live training to iPod like devices. This article is drawn from the same New York Times report.
The improvisational courses do not replace such traditional offerings as orientation and on the job training, but the do teach employees to think on their feet, to respond quickly to guest needs, and to create solutions where none seem to exist.
Tom Yorton, chief executive of Second City Communications, which provides improvisation and other training to corporate clients, said “the Web has shaped how people learn.” Teaching, he added, “has to be shorter, punchier, more entertaining and more interactive.”
The Chicago Elysian hired a resident director at the Second City, Billy Bungeroth, to work with employees in sales, catering, security, concierge and other positions.
The goal was to foster “intuitive service,” said Jennifer Lee, the Elysian’s learning and development director. “Service by most luxury hotels is based on scripts. We want our people to have interactions with guests; Improv gave them tools that enabled them to be successful with their intuition.”
Andaz 5th Avenue had different needs. Hyatt’s Andaz hotels do not have registration desks or traditional porters, front desk workers or concierges. Their employees are “hosts,” who greet guests as they arrive, check them in and cater to their needs.
The hotel hired New York based Chicago City Limits to develop a course to improve hosts’ communications skills, help them read guests’ body language and establish an immediate rapport with guests.
As a proponent of infusing learning with the entertainment arts—Eight show biz secrets to effective learning, Laughter makes adult learning more successful, and Walt Disney’s educational approach aligns with Learnertainment®—this Examiner is delighted to see some businesses utilize the secrets of show biz.
Employees can then make the guests feel like the stars they are.