Virtual Reality training prepares hospitality workers for the next era of travel

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This article first appeared on Medium on September 8, 2021. See the original article here.


Strivr CEO Derek Belch, a smiling, brown-haired white man

Derek Belch

Founder & CEO, Strivr

It’s no secret that COVID-19 hit the hospitality industry hard. To survive, the industry had to massively reduce its workforce and invest in technology to meet the changing needs of travelers. It ushered in new guest services like contactless check-in and digital room keys on your mobile phone.

However, as travel rebounds, the industry must first find and then prepare workers to meet increased demand while delivering a guest experience that will fuel growth. Across the United States, the leisure and hospitality industry is still down 2.2 million jobs from February. More than half of U.S. hospitality workers say they won’t go back to their old jobs and over one third aren’t even considering reentering the industry as they have moved on to other careers.

Labor may very well be the most significant challenge we all face. We’ve got to invest in our people. We’ve got to remind them that travel and tourism is a remarkable place to build a long-term career.

Anthony Capuano, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

We need more staff across the industry because many people left during Covid, and we have to bring them back. We have to focus on training and development to be more efficient and focused on serving people.

Keith Barr, CEO, IHG Hotels and Resorts

Investing in workers is critical

To succeed and offer optimal guest experiences, it’s clear that the hospitality industry needs to invest in its workers. Just as many companies embraced technology for a better self-serve customer experience, they also need to invest now in technology that allows for better hiring, training, and retention of employees while improving customer satisfaction. We’re finding that immersive learning with Virtual Reality (VR) is unlocking these critical objectives for hospitality companies, especially when it is part of a robust onboarding and training program.

It starts by addressing talent gaps through more impactful employee engagement and retention practices. To face down this great rehiring and retention challenge, companies must take steps to provide better employee engagement, skill building, and career growth enablement experiences. With VR, people learn by doing in a safe environment, and they get hands-on practice with new skills like de-escalating an upset guest or troubleshooting a self-service kiosk.

Virtual Reality: Practice drives performance and mistakes are free

Equipping customer-facing employees with the right skills to perform with confidence can be difficult in the current environment. Realistic immersive experiences bridge the gap, allowing them to practice for the real-world situations they’ll face.

Through case studies and client deployments, we’ve discovered that with VR, employees can learn up to 96% faster, retain knowledge 16 times better, and are more engaged with the training overall. It is proving to be one of the most impactful ways companies can train their employees.

The beauty of VR is that an initial investment allows for consistent training at scale across a multitude of functions and roles. For example, during recruitment, VR simulations of the day-to-day job experience can help candidates determine if a role is the right fit, as well as improve employee retention and increase job satisfaction.

After being hired, all employees can learn effective customer service via real-to-life simulations that are proven to increase customer satisfaction in addition to cross-skilling to learn housekeeping, food, and beverage procedures that keep employees and guests safe via real-life simulations. Additionally, rising executives and managers can receive more impactful empathy, coaching, and leadership development training via immersive experiences that simulate the most challenging situations they’ll face in the real world. Call-center employees can also immerse themselves in the company culture and brand experience remotely without ever physically setting foot in a hotel. In all of these cases, practice drives performance and mistakes are free.

Accenture and Strivr: Immersed in immersive learning

As the worker shortage continues, being talent-focused is not only the right thing to do, but also the sensible option. Providing the most advanced training using the most modern technology makes more sense than ever.

Accenture and Strivr are committed to helping organizations realize the potential of immersive learning for their employees at speed and at scale. Accenture’s industry and technology consulting expertise, combined with the Strivr Immersive Learning Platform, is enabling some pretty incredible things, bringing the ROI of immersive learning to our customers anywhere in the world.

To hear more about this topic and how hospitality leaders like MGM Resorts are investing in human capital innovation, tune into this webinar tomorrow, September 9th, with MGM’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Laura Lee. You’ll get a peek under the hood at how MGM is leveling up employee experience with VR to improve metrics like engagement and retention, and why a VR platform can play an important role in addressing talent gaps.

The next era in travel is here. Leaders can use XR technology to shape the new realities they face—and we’re here to help.

To learn more about the Strivr-Accenture partnership, talk to Danny Belch, Strivr Partnerships Lead.

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