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Taking the Path Less Traveled and Selling Your Decisionmakers on Virtual Training

Recently I spoke to a general manager, who expressed interest in taking his club’s training experience to the next level. Since I am intimately involved in the perfect solution for this challenge, I suggested virtual training as a solution. The general manager’s response to me was, "I just don't get it. I'm not sold on it".

I understand one's hesitation about virtual training in the hospitality industry—at first blush it seems as though it would be akin to watching a YouTube video on how to fly fish— you can learn the basic terminology and steps of the process, but unless you’re standing in a stream, you’re not going to catch a fish. Granted, hospitality is a learn by doing industry as well, but it is also an industry in which employees can learn both actively and passively. Virtual training allows both active and passive learning presented in a visually attractive and engaging manner. The fly fishing video is a watch only option. Virtual training is a ‘get involved’ option, so employees are actively training – taking a course, not watching a video.

We are often approached by club managers who see the need to get off the hamster wheel of inconsistent training and service but are having a hard time convincing their key stakeholders of the value of virtual training to solve this dilemma. We are here to help! First, you can’t pitch this idea successfully if you don’t fully understand it. Once you understand it, you will be a fan; I am certain of it. Just think about how other companies are using e-learning – or virtual training - to improve their performance. A survey of 2,500 companies found that those with “comprehensive training programs” have 218% higher revenues per employee and 24% higher profit margins. This style of learning has grown by a stunning 900% between 2001 and 2017. Lastly, 77% of US corporations used online learning.

So, let’s get you in the know……Here are a few common problems that can be solved through virtual training.

Problem #1: Doing More with Less

The reality of the world we live in is that executive managers and department heads are asked to do more than ever before and there is simply not enough time to do it all or there is a lack of adequate resources. Inevitably, priorities get pushed to the back burner- unfortunately, training is one of the first things to take a backseat.

With fewer hours available for mentoring and coaching the super stars within our operations who desire a promotion to a supervisory role, we are shortchanging them the ability to succeed because they have an incomplete picture of the roles and responsibilities they will be expected to take on upon moving into a supervisory roles. We may also be leaving them with just a cursory understanding of the basic functions of the jobs they now are in charge of managing.

Virtual training takes this pain point away completely. Virtual training gives staff and management the opportunity to train whenever and wherever they can; thus, keeping productivity and engagement high. Virtual training also offers staff the ability to train consistently regardless of the time of year a staff member is brought on; which allows managers to focus on the day to day operations rather than getting new staff members up to speed. With virtual training, a hiring manager never again needs to worry about finding time to provide quality training during peak season and the new hire will receive immediate training so that they can quickly become a high performing team member.

Problem #2: Staff Attrition

According to Shift eLearning, the current up and coming workforce believes in the value of training and the opportunity to advance in a position, and they ranked training and development as the number 3 characteristic that will compel them to work for a company.

The hospitality industry has been directly affected by the nation’s low unemployment rate, putting more pressure on clubs to cast a wider net when it comes to recruiting and when possible, to promote from within. Operators are being required to hire personnel with no hospitality or service background and therefore are required to train them on manners, etiquette, positive communication and service standards from A to Z.

Problem #3: Changing Face of Employees

Online learning has become an integral part of the educational landscape. According to the Mindset List, the class of 2019 entering college has never lived in a world without Google. They are accustomed to having the world, and the answers, at their fingertips. These upcoming employees are looking to jump into a career with both feet and move through the ranks quickly. They are eager to learn and value consistent constructive feedback in order to help them grow in their careers.

The next generation of employee is seeking an employer who is going to invest in their career in ways that are tangible (such as pay, benefits, etc…) and also intangible—namely motivation to succeed in their career and following examples set by their direct reports. The next generation of employee is a social generation and they thrive on continuous feedback, which extends to their training needs as well. Virtual training serves to fill the need for continuous feedback in that training becomes something that your employees actively do; rather than it be something that is simply crossed off of a to-do list.

Problem #4: Inconsistent Onboarding

Most of us are guilty of inconsistent onboarding, no doubt. There’s the new hire that started on the day of a board meeting or a big invitational and we were forced to abbreviate the orientation process. As a supervisor we feel crunched for time and meal period preparation so we have the new hire train by shadowing an experienced server. Lackluster onboarding is fraught with minefields. For starters, when orientations and onboarding processes are done in one-off environments there is no guarantee of consistency. Communicating the organization’s culture and goals may be skewed depending on the mood and available time of the person(s) delivering the message. Corners can be cut and explanations abbreviated to the peril of the new employee and the employer.

Now, imagine a successful, consistent onboarding scenario like this: the new hire is invited to the HR office to complete new hire paperwork and is given a course workbook with login credentials. They login to a workstation at the club and watch a welcome video delivered by the club’s COO and their specific department head. The employee is then introduced to the club’s core values and vision, then briefed on what makes the member/customer’s experience so unique. Then the employee gets a chance to meet one-on-one with their direct manager/supervisor and spend 30 minutes getting to know one another. When an introduction that is based on getting acquainted becomes a priority, trust is built and the relationship gets off on good footing. Next and prior to them going onto the floor, the employee is required to complete the four (4) introductory courses on RCSU including: the Dance of the Dining Room, Member Service 101, Understanding the Mind of the Member and G.R.A.C.I.O.U.S. Service. You can easily and quickly check on the employee’s progress with tracking reports that monitor their virtual training success. With four hours of training complete in the virtual atmosphere you can guarantee the new employee has a basic understanding of the club environment and how to deliver service in a member-oriented environment. What a difference this type of orchestrated onboarding would make, right? Yes! It really is just that easy and it’s exactly how virtual training benefits the manager, the employee, and your members or customers.

The reality is online learning is here to stay. It's not a fad or a trend and is best when combined with in-person guidance at the management level. Today’s the day to make a new choice to solve the problems we just highlighted. You can do it, and we can help!


Rachel Carter is a consultant with RCS specializing in membership marketing and communications strategies. Recognized as one of the "Most Influential Women in the Club Industry" by Board Room Magazine,Carter is a contributing writer for trade magazines including Golf Business, Club Director and Board Room Magazine and in a selection panelist for Distinguished Clubs.

Contact her at or visit the RCS website at

#RachelCarter #onboarding #DanceoftheDiningRoom #UnderstandingtheMindoftheMember #GraciousService #memberservice101 #virtualtraining #rcsu #RCSU #positivecommunication #motivateme #whateverynewmanagershouldknow #MindsetList #ShifteLearning

Whitney Reid Pennell
 Founder & President

Whitney Reid Pennell is the founder and president of the award-winning RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services). She is a published author and widely praised seminar leader, with over 20 years of club operations management and consulting experience. 

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