In yet another event of achievement to be proud of the Serena group, five employees of the group’s Kigali establishment emerged the best in a Lobster Ink facilitated training that has been running since early 2013.
The training which focused on exposing trainees to the best practices in the hospitality industry using audiovisual media productions was applauded by the trainees as the best way to grasp the international standards of hospitality services.
When she enrolled into the training, Immaculate Kobusingye, an employee in the house keeping department of the hotel thought that the endeavor was going to be similar to sessions she had underwent in the past. However after a few days of taking the audiovisual courses and testing the knowledge acquired through various testing tools in addition to receiving guidance from various tutors, it was more than clear that the training was none like she had ever taken.
“I realized how easy it was becoming to apply the lessons learnt from the course to my daily duties at the hotel. Also watching the videos and taking the tests served as a reflection of my own self in action. This helped me to check all my moves while handling customers,” Kobusingye noted. The tutorials are made in such a way that trainees are exposed to real life situations through the videos showing both the bad practices that they may have personally fell prey to and then contrasting those with the best practices. This enables the learners to side with the good practices while doing away with the bad ones, some of which they may never have known were considered so before.
According to Kobusingye, there are various ways she thought things were done. However through the courses, she either discovered she had been wrong on some, others were outdated basing on the international standards of hospitality practices while in some cases she realized there were better ways to perform to the satisfaction of the customer. “The Lobster trainings and the practices discussed in the media products are international thus enabling us to level our skills to those of other hospitality practitioners elsewhere in the world. I now can go to any country and I am sure I will be no different to others in the particular country in terms of my serving skills,” the Serena house keeper noted.
Concurring with the house keeper’s view Charles Muia, the General Manager of Serena Hotels Rwanda confided that there had been a remarkable improvement in the hotel’s services ever since the trainings begun. For instance, the Serena Rwanda Manager said that there has been an increase in positive comments from guests with a similarly higher drop to zero for complaints. “Between December 2013 and February 2014, we did not record any negative comments from our guests, which I consider a gesture of compliment to the employees taking the lobster courses.”
According to Muia, the Lobster Ink training material is a facilitation of continuous and progressive talent development in Rwanda’s hospitality industry which will not only benefit Serena but also other establishments in delivering the best services to their guests.
Besides Serena staff, the training also includes other practitioners from various hospitality establishments in Rwanda. About 250 students are currently undertaking the course a big number of whom are not Serena staff. Russell Dunkly the Head of Training for the South African Lobster Ink was present at the graduation ceremony where the first five (all from Serena Kigali) of 2000 trainees taking the course in all countries where the company operates graduated. He underscored that the main difference their trainings have in contrast to any others is the possibility for the learners to take a particular lesson for more than once. “We create room for a particular learner to take a given course outline for as long they need. At the end of each lesson, the system generates a test that determines whether the learner has captured the practices discussed in the particular part.
In the event of underperformance on any of the lessons, trainees can take restudy up to as many more times as they wish,” Russell said. The first five graduates are slotted to travel to South Africa on an exposure tour where they will witness how other hospitality practitioners carry on with duty elsewhere. Besides the five who will benefit from the South African visit which will undoubtedly cost highly as a token of appreciation for being the first to complete the course and with remarkable performance, all the other students who will graduate after are expected to be taken to other regional hospitality establishments as a way of boosting their confidence in the profession and leveling their skills with elsewhere in other establishments.
The Agakhan Fund for Economic Development is the main sponsor of these trainings which are currently delivered through a Lobster Ink system where learners log onto the platform and learn on their own through viewing the media products available on each category of hotel services. Occasionally however, the trainees get facilitation from the training company which is oftentimes in form of supporting on areas that the learners cannot grasp the basics on their own.
With practitioners acquiring international hospitality sector skills, there is no doubt that the persistent gap in terms of human resources that the industry has suffered for years is eventually getting solved. The house keeper’s association of Rwanda noted that the training is a great move that is bound to yield an improvement in the satisfaction of customers.
“This is the real thing that I believe we wanted so as to create the best quality skills in the sector which will deliver our envisioned growth,” Alex Mutaganda who doubles as the General Manager of Hilltop Hotel in Kigali and as the Secretary of the House Keeper’s Association of Rwanda (Rwanda Hospitality Association) said.