Implementing a new technology comes with a unique set of challenges. Often, one of the biggest hurdles hotels have to overcome is training employees to use the technology properly. And if your team is not committed to adopting a new solution, it could end up wasting your hotel precious time and money.
While it's only natural to resist change, there are ways hoteliers can make technology changes easier on employees through training, planning, leadership, and support.
Develop a Roll-Out Plan for Training and Implementation
Once you’ve decided on a new technology to implement, create a roll-out plan using the information you’ve gathered about its organizational benefits, pain-points it solves, and all involved stakeholders. The plan’s scope will vary depending on your selected technology, but could involve any or all of the following elements:
Key dates – When will you be launching the new technology solution? When will employees be expected to fully utilize the solution? If applicable, at what point will you turn off your current solution?
Deployment tiers – Would it be best to roll out your new tech tool to all users at once? Or does it make more sense to onboard specific groups individually so that each can receive specialized training?
Training opportunities – What types of training will you need? Will certain departments or employee groups require more training than others? Decide how you will account for and accommodate different learning styles.
Expectations – The Technology Adoption Cycle details that not everyone adopts new technology at the same rate. Just as there are early adopters, there are also people who will fall behind. When you set internal expectations for technology adoption, be sure to recognize and reward early adopters but also gameplan for those resist.
Ultimately, the goal of your roll-out plan should be a roadmap for the “who, what, where, why and how” of your implementation. Make it detailed but flexible enough to alter it if needed.
Create a String Pitch to Your Team
You can help persuade your team to adopt new technology by putting forth a compelling vision of life—and business—once the new technology is rolled out. Create this vision by clearly showing the new technology’s benefits.
Employees need to understand what they’ll enjoy about the technology. Will it increase productivity, eliminating weekend work? Will it enable salespeople to meet their quotas easier and faster? Convince them that this new technology will make their lives better.
While your team or department might be vested in a new project, don’t assume that everyone else within your organization is, too. People will naturally ponder, "what's in it for me?". Create an internal communication plan to show the technology's value to individual employees as well as the organization as a whole.
By opening the conversation with the technology’s benefits, you’ll bypass many people’s first impulse when confronted with new technology: that they must change the way they do things, creating more work for them. Rather than letting your employees believe the new technology will slow them down, prove that it will make their job easier.
Get Influencers on Board
Having internal “champions” that genuinely advocate for the technology change can positively impact the level of enthusiasm organization-wide. They can also help mitigate any potential pushback of employees resisting the new technology. These champions can serve as “living success stories” and can coach others on the tool’s benefits.
To accomplish this advocacy, create a pilot group of employees to use the technology, preferably people from different teams. Include your star performers, but don’t only pick employees who are already the most interested in technology. Ideal candidates are those with strong communication and interpersonal skills that work with employees across the organization—you want them to have contact with many people.
Even more important than getting early adopters on board with the new technology is to get these influencers to adopt and become your “champions”. They will act as technology advocates and shepherd other employees on board. The more individuals that fall into this influencer category, the easier the transition will be towards company-wide acceptance.
Make the Training Engaging
It might seem difficult to get employees legitimately excited about a new hotel technology, but this aspirational goal is attainable. Incorporate the following strategies into your training plan to make this happen:
Use interesting training formats – Ditch the boring PowerPoint slideshow and instead opt for an interactive Lunch-and-Learn. Gamification, such as a bingo-style game or a scavenger hunt, can also help users learn about a new solution. Reach out to your technology provider for training materials, too. At OpenKey, we provide hotels with our learning management system, OpenKey University, which offers access to unique training materials covering every aspect of mobile key and mobile check-in.
Offer incentives – Reward employees that adopt the new technology with perks such as gift cards or office swag. You can also publicly recognize teams who hit adoption milestones with larger awards, celebratory events, or company-wide memos.
Choose your trainers wisely – You’ve invested a lot into this new tech so you want to make sure the person training your employees is not only knowledgeable about the tech but can inspire enthusiasm in your employees. Advise your trainers to regularly take a few moments to “read the room.” If they notice employees’ attention drifting—or worse, their eyes glazing over—it’s time to shake up the training.
Hands-on training – For many, the best way to learn is by using the technology itself. Reading training materials and attending presentations helps educate and prepare employees, but getting "hands-on" with technology is often the most successful format. In the case of OpenKey, we suggest hoteliers have their employees use our mobile key solution from both the guest and staff side. This helps them better understand our front desk application as well as how guests will use mobile key throughout their stay.
Ask for Input at Every Milestone
No one wants to feel like their voice isn’t being heard. Establish a plan for collecting feedback and questions from employees so responses can be compiled and reviewed by the team(s) leading implementation and training. You’ll want your technology vendor to be apart of this process as much as possible as they have likely overcome any issues your people may be experiencing.
To gauge how well the training is going, be sure to collect feedback at every training session and periodically throughout the roll-out. However, the learning process should continue well beyond the go-live date. Keep checking in with your users—especially the ones you know are struggling with adoption—so you can provide additional training as soon as they need it. You should collect feedback even after implementation is complete, especially if you expect new employees to go through similar training in the future. Training programs can always be improved.
However you plan on collecting feedback, consider allowing anonymous feedback as employees who may feel nervous providing criticism will be more likely to provide honest feedback.
Provide Quality Technical Assistance
The vendor you choose should have the capacity to quickly respond to any issues that pop up along the way, especially during the implementation phase. But you’ll want a vendor that is equipped to provide technical assistance for the timespan that you plan on utilizing the technology, from the initial setup through employee training and onwards. A responsive vendor can put employees’ minds at ease if technical issues do arise.
For example, at OpenKey, we offer our hotels 24/7 call support and often have short or no wait times at all. Plus, each OpenKey hotel has their own dedicated client success manager who is available to handle technical assistance questions if needed.
It is tempting to view this training as a one-time project with a specific end date. While the initial training period will come to an end, it will be valuable to select a set of outcome-based goals for your team after full implementation.
A roll-out is never really “done.” Establish baselines to continually measure progress against and continually analyze data for areas to improve. This way, you will identify users who need additional training and catch instances that weren’t fully covered in training. Throughout the process, remain open to feedback and be willing to act on valuable suggestions. Keep in mind that employees who feel that their concerns are heard and respected will ultimately be more engaged with the new technology than those who feel overlooked throughout the adoption process.