Improving customer service in the tourism sector through better language training

In the last couple of years we had the opportunity to work with innumerable businesses and associations (like FEHM & AEHM) in the tourism sector in Spain. During our work the negative effects of the lack  of language skills in the sector has been quite apparent. Businesses lose thousands of euros in revenue due to misunderstandings often leave the customers unhappy. Further, customers are quick to air their views on social media thus creating permanent damage to a business when a pissed off customer gripes about the experience on Tripadvisor or Twitter.

Companies have invested in training for language skills for workers in the past using traditional classroom based training. However, these classroom based traditional training don’t work very well as they are expensive, time consuming and inefficient. Also, hospitality and tourism employees work long hours which doesn’t leave a lot of spare time to invest in acquiring new skills especially something as difficult as language learning.

But the e-learning landscape for language training is rapidly changing and there is good news on this front. Well designed Apps along with big data capabilities is a powerful tool in the hands of businesses to train their staff on the specific language skill needs of their employees. Through these mobile apps employees have access to the most useful tools and content that they need to do their jobs better. The apps are interactive and a personalized multimedia learning experience is multiple times better than a traditional classroom approach or paper based material. Additionally, the learners can get feedback on their speaking skills using voice recognition technology. Using big data the course can be adapted to provide an adaptive learning experience. while providing valuable data on the progress of each individual employee as well as the course as a whole.

Skype or video based tutors suffer from the same drawbacks as a in-person classroom based language training – wasted time and limited interactive content. It does lower the time to commute to the classroom but other significant challenges remain. Interactive content is limited at best and there is heavy reliance on a teacher at the end of the screen. Often an online classroom has 9-10 learners in the same class which gives limited opportunities to speak (which is probably the real value add.) O the contrary if its a one on one lesson the costs are significantly higher and since learning language skills take a long time the resulting costs are prohibitively high. Moreover, once the lesson is over, the user is back to relying on the limited interactive material (if any is provided)

An e-learning based language learning solution offers significant advantages for large businesses like Hotels in helping to centralize the training needs across the organization. Often times, coordinating training for hospitality workers isn’t feasible as its hard for the head office to find local teachers in the various branches. It’s hard to monitor the progress of the students and almost impossible to provide consistent quality across the various locations. With a pure e-learning solution the training can be scaled across any part of the organization in any geography or timezone.It’s also easy to benchmark the progress of the various locations and take remedial measures for workers who may be falling behind in the progress.

The last point is especially key for the HR manager to assess the progress of a course in regular intervals. Progress, completion, and performance in the course determine the success of the training investment and the HR team has the tools to check the progress and regularly assess if the language training meets the needs of the business. Language learning tools are rapidly developing and in the coming years workers can expect to find the right training in an relevant format that costs less and takes less time.  

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