In today’s disruptive hospitality landscape, every hotel manager and every aspiring manager needs to stay abreast of the trends and industry happenings, with these now changing at a minimum of once every year. Above all, you need passionate team members in order to realize any semblance of organizational success.

But with the trends shifting so fast, there’s no textbook that could keep up, nor does your senior team have time to devote to a formal classroom structure. In its place, reading industry trade publications assumes a critical role for on-the-job learning and career advancement, not to mention helping guide your hotel in a healthy direction.

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And yet we seldom hold our team accountable to the task of keeping up with industry trends via the reading of trade publications, instead letting their passion alone motivate them and allowing the wheat to slowly separate itself from the chaff. While I am a staunch proponent of this self-directed learning style, there is a danger to this purely laissez-faire mentality in that it will take far too long to identify the ones who aren’t in it for the long haul.

I’ve always deemed reading the trades and correctly digesting the ideas therein as a top-level barometer for how enthusiastic an individual is for the job. But nowadays, if it isn’t written into the job description with a specific system of rewards, repercussions and accountability, auxiliary duties like browsing a hotelier publication every other day just won’t get done.

Importantly for this, you have no quantitative measurement for whether the trades are being read or not; you only have an employee’s word to go on. Second is that you cannot accurately assess whether the ideas expressed in a given article has been simply read or actually absorbed, barring a one-on-one discussion to recap what was stated.

This range of aptitude can have drastic consequences for internal team development and succession planning, as it may prevent you from cultivating those young stars who will ultimately become the next generation’s business leaders. Moreover, any form of bite-sized learning like this can work tangentially to boost morale and talent retention.

So, if everyone expects a technology-based platform for both trade publication delivery and accountability, then that’s exactly what you should give them!

Sure, you can email articles around manually or post them to an electronic bulletin board, and then do an informal, qualitative assessment during a weekly meeting or morning huddle, but this will eventually add up to be a severe time drain over the long run. Instead, mobile apps and online dashboards are the true solutions as they can be powered to automatically push material to an employee’s device or inbox as well as monitor readership or even prompt a user to answer a quiz upon completion.

And it’s this last function that gets me most excited it can go far beyond the simple, binary metric of whether a given article has been read or not. By periodically testing your team on the trades, it reinforces the teaching to ensure that the underlying concepts are more thoroughly understood and ingrained. Smarter teams inevitably lead to more motivated, more productive or more visionary teams, and that’s what a digitally based curriculum like this would enable. Real-life solutions abound, and I would suggest you start looking at your options as an initiative for 2020.

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