Radisson Hotel Group developed a state-of-the-art Leader’s Excellence Program to improve business acumen and leadership skills of General Managers in support of growth-focused operational strategy.
Increased competition and the challenges of finding and retaining top talent, along with aggressive company growth goals —in 2018 and 2019 – required a change in how the company approached leadership development.
The vision of Radisson Hotel Group is to become one of the top companies of choice for employees, owners, and guests. Leadership recognized that in a changing business environment, the key to realizing that vision is through the development of General Managers to optimize operations, drive financial performance, and lead teams to success. To help general managers succeed, they needed to provide the right training.
From that realization came the Leaders Excellence Program, which went from concept in July 2018 to implementation in February 2019. The Leaders Excellence Program is a comprehensive learning 3-day journey that included pre-work, a three-day learning event, group work, and a customized digital business case study.
The simulation is a hands-on learning tool that serves as the bridge between learning and real-life experience. In the simulation, learners make relevant operational and leadership decisions for a simulated hotel company in order to better understand systems of business.
This training empowered participants to succeed in the three pillars of the company: its owners, its employees, and most importantly, its guests.Radisson Hotel Group partnered with Advantexe, an expert in simulation design, to design the Leaders Excellence Program, and the first group of 25 General Managers met in Brussels for the pilot session.
The simulation was designed to develop three skillsets: business planning, operational execution, and leadership. As part of the design process, Radisson Hotel Group collaborated with 10 cross-functional departments to include a 360-degree overview of the business so the development team could develop a simulated environment that was both realistic and relevant.
In the same way pilots build skills in a flight simulator, participants act as a General Manager in the simulation to build their skills. Learners managed a newly renovated property through simulated planning and operational decisions made on a quarterly basis for 3 years. Competing against each other in the simulation for occupancy and revenue, participants had the opportunity to review business performance and market position through financial reports and business metrics.
After each round of decisions, participants received data on the hotel’s actual business performance vs. the competition. This helped to further develop business acumen skills through understanding their financial performance, analyzing competitors, and reassessing market opportunities.
To target leadership development through the simulation, scenarios on leadership competencies and people management skills were integrated into the experience. The Leaders Excellence Program targets high-potential leaders. Headquarters, in conjunction with Regional teams, nominate high achievers through a sophisticated matrix to evaluate the performance and potential of General Managers.
Participants are diverse in backgrounds and type of properties; this talent mix enables to facilitate a robust discussion and peer-to-peer learning. After the pilot program, changes were made to ensure learning objectives were met.
Both Radisson Hotel Group and Advantexe iterated on the design to enhance the content and simulation, developing more KPIs and changing the number of simulation rounds in order to create more realistic time pressures in the learning environment. Radisson Hotel Group immediately realized the value of the training.
Participants who completed the learning journey built skills and a network of peers to help them meet the complex challenges of running a property in the hospitality business.
As a direct result, Radisson Hotel Group’s GMs have been experiencing significant improvement in results including:
• 47% of the participants have achieved higher Global Review Index (GRI) Scores as compared to goal
• 39% of the participants have received a promotion since participating in the program
• 58% of the participants have achieved higher Financial Gross Operating Profit (GOP)% than the previous year Actual results from the simulation sessions provide additional data to measure the effectiveness of the program.
It was discovered that participants had gained important knowledge in four critical drivers:
• Revenue Generation - 85% of the groups experienced an increase in the simulated total room revenue.
• Gross Operating Profit - 67% of the groups experienced an increase in gross operating profits
• Customer Satisfaction – 73% of the team had an increase in the overall customer satisfaction score.
• Employee Satisfaction – over 70% of the teams experienced a decline in employee satisfaction scores.
The learning point was profound as they experienced the difficulties of managing all the variables of running a hotel.
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