One of the key successes of any tourism project is good communications skills of those involved. For example, how well hotel workers communicate with guests will determine future customer patterns - whether it will be their first and the last stay or whether they will come back time and again.
Language fluency, particularly English, is indeed becoming more and more important. But if your ability to communicate in English is poor and yet you do not have time to attend training sessions, what can you do?
David Topolewski, CEO of mobile education technology company Qooco, says this may be where mobile learning solutions can help, even when dealing with older workers.
"Training an older workforce presents a unique challenge that can be addressed via new technologies. This might seem like an oxymoron with the conventional belief that older workers tend to be less tech savvy. On the contrary, certain traits of older learners, such as a preference for more self-directed learning, lends itself particularly well to mobile learning," he says.
For older users who may be less exposed to using a mobile app, interface and usability are particularly important.
He says: "Although I cannot speak for other providers, the Qooco interface is animated and interactive, video clips and animated notes and the courses have incorporated game-based elements. Yet, it is kept simple and easy to use."
Explaining further, Topolewski says Qooco Hospitality - which is for the hospitality industry, helps employees to connect better with guests in a more personal and effective way.
"Qooco offers lessons that simulate real-life speaking scenarios for jobs in the front desk, kitchen, spa, housekeeping, food and beverage, engineering and security departments. Lessons are designed to be fun and interactive, yet are highly practical and can be applied immediately. As a result, staff members can offer recommendations on where to eat, the best spa packages at the hotel, which wine would best complement their meal and more," he says.
In terms of levels of difficulty and understanding, Topolewski says older users with less tech experience can proceed at a slower pace while more experienced users can progress faster. Qooco's data analysis technology consolidates results on a dashboard and identifies improvement areas, providing more measurable tracking of progress at-a-glance, something that's important for older learners.
"We conducted a survey in a five-star international resort hotel chain in Asia to find out what employees felt were ideal study hours and we found that 85 per cent had less than an hour a day to study, with most preferring to do so after regular working hours (generally after 6pm). Qooco Hospitality was able to fit right into their schedules. With its short lessons, high levels of practice and feedback, employees could study during the lunch hour or on their way home after work - timings best suited to them," he says.
"Our mobile learning solution had become highly relevant to the employees of this hotel chain, with 76 per cent agreeing that the content was relevant to their jobs."
Topolewski believes Qooco can provide a perfect fit for hotel operators here too.
"The Qooco solution is highly scalable and hotels here can expect to benefit in three ways," he says. "HR and training managers can expect to see tangible results at a fraction of the traditional classroom training budgets. Without the need for external tutors or classroom space, there is no additional expenditure. Operationally, m-learning does not affect working hours, thereby minimising impact to business."
Logistically, there is no requirement to organise and schedule training sessions and no need to book tutors or classroom space. This frees up HR resources for other areas of need.
"Lastly, hotels can expect to see real, tangible results. Employee proficiency can be measured and followed instantly by managers, with progress consolidated on one dashboard to allow a bird's eye view of the training programme results. Improved language and communication skills not only allow better connections with guests, but also improve employee morale when they see real and immediate benefits from their training and in their jobs," Topolewski concludes.
Based in Singapore and Beijing, Qooco is currently used in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, with 11 support languages including simplified and traditional Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Malay, German, and Mexican Spanish. Plans are also underway to incorporate the Urdu language.