Keys for an Effective Onboarding Plan in Hospitality & Tourism

Imagine this scenario, James is the new receptionist at your hotel. He has had an onboarding training of 2 days, it's very late and he's alone at the front desk. Two families of guests arrive so it's time for James to do his first check-in alone just like he has been taught. Everything goes smoothly until he realizes that the hotel is fully booked and he doesn't know what to do if something like that happens. Every employee is sleeping, even the manager, so he's all by himself. 

Chances are that something like that doesn't end up well and these guests may even share that experience on TripAdvisor or similar websites harming your brand's image. It's very difficult to change a first bad impression, you won't get a second chance and that usually happens because of an ineffective onboarding program.

onboarding plan hospitality tourism
In Hospitality & Tourism most of the interactions with the guests are face to face. Therefore, employees have a big responsibility because they are the face of the brand. Usually the first impression happens in the front desk so receptionists are the ones that need a good onboarding training the most. They have to be ready to do it flawlessly from the first eye contact with the guests.

Moreover, employee turnover rate has been rising since 2010 from 56.4% to 72.9% in 2016. As a responsible of the learning and development process, that makes it even more imperative for you to design an efficient onboarding program so the new hires are ready as soon as possible.


 These extraordinary high turnover rates can be summarized as follows:

  • Low-skilled and low-paying work.
  • Imbalanced work-life.
  • Seasonal jobs.
  • Lack of training, engagement and career development.
  • Unperceived meaning and value of their work.

In getting your employee onboarding process correctly you will save your company a lot of money and frustration. Here are the keys to design an effective onboarding process:

Pre-boarding new hires effectively

The Onboarding process needs to begin as soon as you know who's going to join the company, even before they start working so they have the chance to live the brand beforehand. It should have the following elements:

  • Orientation: send your employee a welcome letter that includes his schedule, tips to go to the company, dress code (you can even send the news hires the tag they will have to wear on their uniform) and other useful information.
  • Organizational chart: send an organizational chart to your new hires. That will help them to get familiar with faces, names and titles (who is who).
  • Introduce them to the team: you can do that by sharing with the team their résumé and job descriptions. Let the new hires write a letter about themselves so every team member can see a little glimpse of their personality before they start.
  • Share their employee plan: here you should send them a detailed job description with their responsibilities and goals, which should be SMART (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based).
  • Guest knowledge: make sure your new hires know from where are your guests, their needs, behaviour and other relevant information. That way they will be able to offer the best experience possible to them from day one.
  • Branding: align your new hires with your brand's personality. Communicate to them which is the tone and voice of the brand. How you want them to be perceived by the guests or if they have to say something specific.
  • Keep it open: let them know they can contact you at any time in case they have any doubt or they need help.

After doing that make their first day personal, prioritizing interpersonal relationships with colleagues since the first moment.

How should be the first day of their onboarding training

The first day is very challenging, there are a lot of things to learn and a lot of details to take into consideration while interacting with a guest. Failing in one of those may end up giving the guest a bad experience. Hence giving them a bad first impression that will change the guest's perception of your company.

After introducing the new hires to everyone and doing all of the required paperwork, their respective manager should:

  • Assign a mentor or a "buddy" to each of your new hires. In doing that, they will ask questions that they wouldn't feel comfortable asking to you. Additionally, they will start building a relationship of trust and respect.
  • Show them the facilities and teach them what they need to know about policies or security.
  • Give your new hires a welcome gift. It doesn't have to be something fancy, just a little something like a snack, a t-shirt or a coffee mug with your hotel's logo. That will make them feel welcomed and valued.
  • Show your enthusiasm to your new hire. They have to know that you are excited and looking forward to work with them.
  • Take them to lunch  to the hotel's restaurant or the cafeteria so you have the chance to know each other more personally and experience the customer experience.

At the end of the day it is recommended that your new hires have a one-on-one meeting with their manager. That way you will know how they felt in their first day, help them solve any doubts, motivate and give them feedback.

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What are the next steps of your onboarding plan?

The first week is all about making sure that your new hires are involved in your company and its culture. Also, managers need to keep letting them know how valuable they are and tie in tasks to their career growth "Once you know how to do this you'll move on to a more challenging task".

Besides, they must have one-on-one meetings every day during the first week and ask them how things are going. There's a ton of knowledge for them to absorb in hospitality & tourism roles, although they can also provide valuable information. Hence, sharing honest feedback and being specific is key to fill as many knowledge gaps as possible.

In the second week, their managers have to wrap-up the small things. Those details that may make the difference between having your guests happy or angry. After that, they have to give opportunities to perform to the new hires , be available to address any doubts and acknowledge their efforts to make them feel motivated.

Plan ahead everything to speed up your onboarding process. You can do that using mobile platforms that offer easy and convenient access to your information. For example, you can save time and resources using the Atrivity app to gamify a quiz to test the new hires on names, roles or procedures, amongst other things. Also, you can use it to share surveys to assess company knowledge or micro-content about products, competitors or anything you want them to know.

What new hires want Source: LinkedIn, What New Hires Want

After several weeks, their managers have to set up one-on-one meetings with the new hires to see how they are settling in, to answer any questions, and to reinforce any concerns, company's values, goals and give them personalized feedback.

A good onboarding plan will assure that your new hires match with your brand. Besides, an effective and efficient knowledge transfer will increase their engagement and allow them to perform quickly while giving an excellent customer service.

Topics: Employee Engagement, Employee Retention, Onboarding, Human Resources, Recruiting

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