Red Roof’s Learning Pathway to a Competitive Advantage
BY CHRIS OSBORN AND VICKI HOUSTON
Red Roof Inn’s stated corporate goal is to be the No. 1 hotel in the economy segment of the hospitality industry.
But the hospitality industry is frequently among the hardest hit during economic downturns as people find less discretionary income to spend on travel — particularly when competing in the economy segment of the industry. So finding any edge to win business and build customer loyalty is absolutely essential to success.
Reaching No. 1 in any industry for any organization is extremely challenging. But the challenge is compounded a bit by the organizational structure of Red Roof Inn — a common occurrence in the hotel industry. Properties are a blend of corporate-owned and -operated and franchise-owned and -operated. Therefore, to bring the entire chain into one unifying customer-centric culture requires management skills that are complex and high-touch. Communications to properties must be an artful blend of diplomacy, marketing, education and influence. Every location manager has to understand the “why” behind initiatives and training programs, and every property manager and franchisee needs to see the connection between brand initiatives and his or her own bottom line. With more than 400 properties all over the United States and now including international markets, these complex communication and education challenges are more daunting than ever.
ENTER RED ACADEMY
In order to reach its goals, Red Roof Inn had to address very specific business needs. The Learning and Development team realized that it must provide knowledge, support and continuous learning to the field teams that include:
>> hourly GSRs (guest service representatives),
>> corporate office and call center teams, and
>> senior management.
The expressed strategic goal was to ensure properties across the entire brand consistently deliver the highest level of quality, service and value to their guests.
Like many other organizations with widely dispersed workforces, Red Roof Inn faces obstacles like making training easy and convenient to access for employees at all levels, and the ability to provide “just-in-time” training for programs to make the greatest positive impact. The organization must also track the completion of training across the brand, and it must provide compelling content to meet the changing needs of its teams to keep them growing and developing. All of these challenges must be met with an eye on the cost of labor.
RED Academy was built with the end user in mind. Like most organizations, Red Roof Inn views managing labor costs as a priority, but beyond the costs, it’s about effective and efficient use of time. With cost-control objectives in mind, learning program managers migrated Red Roof tools, resources, manuals, templates and videos from two existing SharePoint sites. A key priority was to make it easy for employees to find what they need. This was accomplished by adding metatags to each resource to ensure that no matter how users searched for content, they could find the information they need.
Employees access RED Academy literally anyplace and anytime. Running a 24/7 business means it’s impossible to hold training sessions for all employees at the same time. The ability to take “on-demand” training allows the brand to deliver the same consistent message to all employees, who can now access learning away from the hotel, or from the office, and from the classroom. Managers and employees can access and launch training from any computer or phone and any location — and for today’s learner, that means everything.
NEAR PERFECT RESULTS
The impact of the program (in partnership with BizLibrary) has been outstanding. It all begins with high-level employee use. If Red Roof Inn couldn’t get employees interested in the learning program and engaged in the content, there was no chance the program could influence the business challenges the company faced. So RED Academy was introduced in a planned, methodical way designed to test, evaluate and adjust in incremental steps as needed. Managers got the first glimpse to get them engaged, and then mandatory compliance training was rolled out to every corporate-owned and -operated property.
It turns out the strategy worked nearly to perfection. Location managers now seek additional development opportunities via the BizLibrary Collection, which includes thousands of videos on a wide range of business skills topics. Managers are also using RED Academy more frequently to access their daily operational tools, templates and materials, which was exactly why Red Roof moved these resources out of SharePoint. These materials, plus the learning resources, are now located in one central location with much easier access for more than 4,500 employees at all 400-plus locations. The result of making this content easier to access is proven by the data.
As the data shows, employees have fully embraced RED Academy as the “go-to” place for learning and development. For the entire 2014 calendar year, employees accumulated 9,336 continuing education credits — compared to nearly 12,500 through the first nine months of this year. And the number of course completions inside the BizLibrary system is even more staggering, jumping from 15,529 for all of 2014 to 26,455 through the first nine months of this year — a 70 percent increase with three months to go.
Red Roof Inn continues to emphasize continuous learning as a means to reach its goal as No. 1 hotel in the economy market segment. According to the ReviewMetrix Customer Satisfaction Index, Red Roof has earned the top spot in online guest reviews for five consecutive years in the economy lodging segment.
ON THE HORIZON…
Red Roof Inn’s senior leaders see more value going forward in RED Academy LMS, so they are thinking of new ways to use the powerful tool in the future. One possibility includes integrating RED Academy with Red Roof Inn’s new Human Resource Information System to get new employees using RED Academy for newhire training from their first day.
Additionally, the I.T. and Quality departments are looking at ways to integrate the statistics from courses completed in RED with a “quality dashboard” to further simplify quality metrics for the brand.
Meanwhile, the Training and Human Resources teams want to continue to find new ways to use the BizLibrary Collection and custom content to both support and develop successful teams at every level in the brand.
So the future is bright, and the use of the system in partnership with BizLibrary looks like it will continue delivering business benefits for some time to come.
—Editor’s Note: “Red Roof” and “Red Roof Inn” are registered trademarks. “One Brand. One Focus.” is a registered slogan. “ReviewMetrix” is a trademark.