The events industry is synonymous with versatility, change and creative problem solving; training staff to meet and exceed the demands of such a dynamic environment can be a difficult, challenging yet very rewarding task.
Training is defined as ‘the act of teaching a person a particular skill or behaviour‘. In the events and hospitality industry one of the biggest challenges that event organisers face, is identifying the skills or behaviours that they need their staff to be competent in for such a wide range of roles and events. Damster and Tassiopoulos state that within the events industry there should be two levels of training; desirable (basic catering skills) and essential (legal rules and requirements and health and safety) training. Having spent a year training staff for a wide range of roles across the industry; I would agree with both of these levels but also argue that training people to have the right attitude and people skills also play a vital role in ensuring your staff truly exceed expectations.
Having a workforce that has the skill-set to cope with the demands of the catering industry is vital to staying competitive within the industry. Skills within the hospitality and events industry can often be very practical and and ‘hands-on’, roles required from waiting and bar staff through to butlers and cocktail staff can often demand a set off skills that are difficult to teach in a classroom environment and are often far easier learnt by been thrown into the metaphorical deep end and learning on the job. Training staff on-site whilst maintaining the highest level of service can be a very difficult task, it’s a challenge which requires event organisers to ensure there is a balance between staff that are experienced enough to share knowledge and assist others and staff that are keen to work and willing to listen and learn fast in order to take new skills on board. The industry is one that requires a large range of skills that are very difficult teach in a classroom environment, to ensure staff learn and take on board these skills it is often far better for them to be taught in a real world or on the job situation. One thing that is certain though, is the common perception that the industry is low skilled and easy to master could not be more wrong.
A large proportion of staff within the events and hospitality industry often do not have a background, or even see their long term future within the industry. Although this is the case, the list of essential training required to be a part of the catering industry, especially within the highly competitive events and hospitality market, is one that is extensive and wide ranging. Training staff in personal hygiene and health and safety are essential within the industry, not only to ensure staff know how to, and are able to deal with every and any situation that may occur, but also to give staff a sense of pride in the work they undertake and the industry they are a part of. Going one step further and providing your staff with not only the essential training, but also giving them a recognised qualification in what they do such as a Food Safety Certificate or a Personal Licence can not only lead to your organisation having a better qualified workforce, but can also further your employees career prospects and give them a reason to stay and develop within the industry.
No matter what the event or how dynamic the industry is, personality and attitude will always play a key role in this customer facing and experience orientated industry. The attitude of anybody who enters the industry to work can not only have an effect on the experience of event attendees, but can also affect the employees own job satisfaction. Anne Blackburn identified two key areas of focus when training staff attitude that can not only affect the experience of guests, but can also directly affect the revenue of your organisation; these being emotional intelligence and empowerment of staff. Building emotional intelligence through teamwork and situation analysis allows your event staff not only to work better as a team when out on-site, but also creates a level of empathy with guests allowing them to easily build a rapport. Creating a management structure that empowers staff can give employees the freedom to go above and beyond the regular boundaries that would otherwise be set for them to create magical and memorable moments for your attendees.