REG contracted the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), the non-profit training arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), to implement a training for tourism professionals from Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), Macedonia and Serbia. The goal was to implement AHLEI’s cascading training model program with the creation of a team of master trainers to make steps toward establishing a sustainable training program for hospitality professionals in the region. This is a potential to help overcome one of the challenges that the hotel industry faces in the Western Balkans region – service quality.
The total number of participants in the training was 18 (5 from B&H, 5 from Macedonia and 8 from Serbia). They were representatives from different types of hotels (city, resort, business, leisure, etc.); some were department managers and others represented whole properties and hotel management groups and there was one consultant. The training took place in Belgrade, Serbia between 30 May and 7 June.
USAID Regional Economic Growth (REG) Project funded the training. REG identified partner organizations from each country (Foreign Trade Chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Economic Chamber for Tourism in Macedonia and Serbian Hotel and Restaurant Association) who understand the value and potential of the training and are interested in the future management of AHLEI training programs within their country. Each of the partner organizations, in partnership with REG Project and AHLEI selected the participants .
The 9-day training consisted of the following modules:
- Certified Hospitality Trainer (CHT) - master training aimed at developing training experts; this module took place from 30 May – 3 June; after passing an exam (3 June), the participants obtain a Certification for Master Trainer
- Guest Service Gold Certification (CGSP) – 4 June; after passing an exam (4 June), the participants obtain a Certification for Guest Service Professional
- Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS) - 5-6 June; department supervisor training aimed at enhancing the knowledge of effective leadership, time management, effective communication and other areas; this module provides materials and program knowledge only (no certification)
- Hospitality Skills Certification (HSC) – 7 June; skills and knowledge training for Front Desk, Restaurant and Housekeeping departments; this module provides materials and program knowledge only (no certification)
The master trainers, who earn the Certified Hospitality Trainer (CHT) designation are expected to train department trainers, who earn either Certified Hospitality Department Trainer (CHDT) designation or the Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS) designation. Professionals in both of these groups then train workers at local hotel sites. In this way, training “cascades” through all levels of a hospitality organization, ensuring a continuum of consistent, measurable training. This training approach generates local workforce development skills and provides sustainable training with both immediate and long- term results for the local hospitality community.
The next step is to measure the success of the training and to track results. Each participant will provide at least 3 indexes that will be measured over the time, to track whether the training was successful for the property/ department. If the results are positive, these indexes will be used as benchmarks to attract other departments/ properties to pass through trainings of their personnel. The exact approach for next phases is to be identified in partnership between AHLEI, REG Project and each of the country partners.