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Olympics inspires London hotel's diversity and customer service training programme

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This month as HR magazine unveils the results of its Diversity Survey, 2012 one of the main findings to come out of the study was that not enough HR directors are putting strategies in place to attract a diverse customer base.

But Nadia Simmonds, HR manager at the Strand Palace Hotel in central London, has put diversity and customer service together in a training package for the hotel's 250 employees.

"Customer service is a key part of training here," she said. "We deliver in-house disability awareness and have a diversity culture in our training. This has been in our inductions for many years."

But the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games gave the hotel the opportunity to enhance its training, using People 1st's 'WorldHost' training programme. People 1st has secured the licence from the Province of British Columbia, Canada, to deliver a package of customer service training, used to train staff and volunteers at the successful 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

"The training was delivered in the context of the Olympics," said Simmonds. "But it gave us a fresh slant to training in a hotel setting. It was based on a series of one-day modules and I wanted the sessions to be fun and participative and use them to motivate and engage employees as well as train them.

"We are right in the heart of London and competing for business - this is a cosmopolitan city and it was vital for us that staff understand our culture and equal opportunities programme." She added: "This is also part of our retention strategy. We want employees to know they can develop their skill bases here, in a fun and motivational way."

Simmonds has measured the success of the programme, meant to be a continuing process, through refresher courses, staff feedback - all positive - and customer responses.

"TripAdvisor comments and customer feedback cards have all been positive," she added. "Customers have noted the friendliness of our staff and excellent service."