Trained to motivate – how to get the best out of hotel staff

Staff motivation in hotelsJohn Sylvester talks to about the importance of training and motivating staff and how rewards can help you get the best out of them…

Maximising staff performance and ensuring employees are able to develop the skills and knowledge to deliver good customer service is essential for the hotel industry. With consumer budgets remaining strained, hotels face immense pressure to attract customers, but ensuring staff members are happy and motivated supports this goal.

Whether part-time, temporary or full-time, it is important to ensure that every individual team member feels they are appreciated and that they play an instrumental role in your establishment. Staff who are not fully engaged and do not feel valued may disassociate with the structure of working practices.

To achieve success, reward and recognition programmes must be tailored to the intended audience and suited to their aspirations. To achieve this, managers need to know what drives their people. Flexible, widely encompassing schemes that engage at different performance levels and in different ways are essential to success.

Communication via team talks is a great way to engage staff and gives hotel owners and managers an opportunity to motivate them. Discuss and resolve any issues and try out some role play exercises to assist them in conversing with customers.

Trained to motivateThe key to a successful incentive scheme is to keep it straightforward. Simple tools to remind staff about what is on offer include quick reference guides in the staff room, small reminders on order-taking notepads, pens with inbuilt scrolls where messages can be scribed, and aprons or badges featuring key messages which are relevant to both the customer and staff member.

Managers need to be motivated themselves, and so the employer must drive motivation from the top down. Being an employer of choice and offering pensions, employee benefit programmes and additional benefits all adds up.


The importance of personalisation

When considering recognition schemes specifically suited to workers in this sector, it is important to drive interest and engagement. Online strategies with an interactive voice response element, combined with posters displayed at each site showing who has been nominated and who has won awards are excellent techniques to uphold interest and act as an aspirational driver.

The value of personalised rewards is also important and helps deliver employee engagement. Thank yous and nominations delivered in the form of printed greeting cards deliver a personalised and tailored message which helps each staff member feel appreciated and valued.

“Communication via team talks is a great way to engage staff and gives hotel owners and managers an opportunity to motivate them”

Other techniques which work particularly well within the hotel industry are points-based websites, such as, which allows organisations to run incentive and motivation programmes, work well when set up for each hotel in a chain and each recipient within the workplace. Points deposited into rewardbanking enable recipients to claim the rewards they have earned and use as they choose, and again, this is an excellent motivator for staff.

Providing individual hotel managers with discretionary pots to award employees for more ad-hoc efforts, such as customer feedback or serving according to the company’s code also helps to maintain the staff engagement programme and keep momentum.


Rewarding individuals

Providing choice will drive redemption and engagement. The reward choice made available through points banking schemes is vast so that wide tastes can be catered for; cinema tickets, zorbing, dinner for two at Champneys, an iPod or simply high street vouchers. What engages a 22-year-old student working part-time is very different to a 36-year-old mum, so make sure you provide options for all.

Points mean prizes

RewardbankingMiniStructuring a scheme around an accumulative points system means that part-time people can earn according to their hours, and the low paid see an additional payment or bonus accumulating. Temporary staff working during peak seasons can also benefit if the performance bands are achievable within a typical temporary workers commitment, such as three days, one week, two weeks and so on. The key to this is understanding performance and what is reasonable, desirable and achievable for each group and setting different performance bands to maximise results from their work schedule. Stating the obvious, there is no point setting the same performance band for an employee working on reception 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday as someone who works in the restaurant 7pm to midnight during the weekend.


Cheque out our rewards

Voucher cheques allow employees to choose the voucher type that most appeals to their personal tastes and also provide a really nice ad-hoc method to commend these people. They are founded on the manager having full discretion to award, based on his understanding of their efforts.


A well planned reward and recognition framework, with an agreed methodology and measurement criteria provides a fabulous tool for managers and team leaders to drive performance, whether that’s to reinforce other policies and procedures or to boost sales or customer satisfaction. It’s a flexible tool that can be switched on and off in response to the fast-changing hotel working environment.

Failing to plan a reward and recognition structure which builds in the potential to reward and recognise individual needs and drivers is the equivalent of planning to fail. Employee engagement supports success and encourages the application of good working practices.


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John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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