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How immersive learning innovates upskilling in the hospitality industry

How immersive learning innovates upskilling in the hospitality industry

Written by:
Gregor Towers
Reviewed by :
Date created
August 2, 2023
Last updated:
June 20, 2024
5 min read
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Key takeaways

• Albron uses VR to simulate customer service experience and train cross & upselling skills in a short amount of time.

• VR is emerging as a popular choice for upskilling, but needs to be used for specific skills in different industries.

• Immersive learning in VR aligns with Albron's company culture of inclusivity and diversity.

• VR training at Albron focuses on engaging younger employees in hospitality skills like cross and upselling.

• VR training in hospitality industry improves engagement, standardizes training quality, and has a direct business impact.

Albron uses VR to simulate the customer service experience and train talent’s cross & upselling skills

For Albron the goal is to implement high impact learning for cross and upselling skills. Traditional programs last for several days but in hospitality that’s just not feasible. With VR, we can train the same skills in 30 minutes. Wybren Bosma, CEO at Meta-Skills

Businesses are innovating their upskilling. And with more learning tools in the market, Virtual Reality is emerging as a popular choice.

However, VR is not a one-size-fits-all tool. It needs to be used for specific skills in different industries.

We talked with two experts working together to integrate immersive learning in the hospitality industry. Meet Frank van Loon, L&D manager at Albron – a multinational hospitality company – and Wybren Bosma, CEO of Meta-Skills Learning.

Wybren and Frank discuss their plans to innovate Albron’s upskilling and discuss the value immersive learning brings to businesses and L&D teams:  

When should businesses look to integrate it? How can it best be used for business impact in different industries? What value does VR add to traditional learning?

What is immersive learning and how is VR related?

Wybren Bosma: “In effect, VR creates an immersive learning experience by simulating real-life business scenarios. For example in the hospitality industry, it enables talent to experience customer service in a restaurant and practice the key skills.”

How did Albron introduce immersive learning?

Frank van Loon: “At Albron we introduced immersive learning in our leadership program to train feedback skills. This introduction was started as a: ‘let’s check if immersive learning could find common ground’ and that’s why we tested it directly with a group of senior leaders.

So it was a chance for new learning approaches and an opportunity to gain buy-in on this level of leadership.”

How does immersive learning align with Albron’s company culture?

Frank van Loon: “As our Albron motto states ‘Good for each other (Goed voor elkaar)’, we operate a diverse and inclusive business and this also applies to our learning solutions.

We welcome all to join at Albron and if you have the will to work, but you don’t have experience, we will support you in becoming the best professional in hospitality. This translates into diverse upskilling approaches, such as immersive learning.”

For which learners is the immersive learning experience most attractive and what hospitality skills do you plan to train?

Frank van Loon: “So after the success of the immersive learning experience in our leadership program, we were looking to engage our workforce with our upskilling tracks. For example people who join Albron a couple of months after leaving school and we thought they’d be most excited by the VR experience.

At Albron we have eight holiday resorts where we serve food and beverage in a variety of restaurants. We employ a lot of younger people for the holiday seasons and we train them to be hospitality ambassadors. As an L&D team, we thought: ‘Could we build a module around how to serve clients in restaurants?’

The main skill set we will train with VR is called cross and upselling at restaurant tables, aimed as a full service concept. We already did a trial with talent in the restaurants and while there were improvements we identified, the majority was very enthusiastic because they didn’t expect the learning to be so engaging for the 15 to 20 minute session.”

What does VR add as compared to traditional learning in the hospitality industry?

Frank van Loon: “I see that the learner is fully engaged. So in a classroom setting learners can be distracted and lose focus but VR really immerses them in the learning experience.

It also helps train standard procedures for guest interactions. Before we had to explain to learners which way to face a bottle label but now the basics are covered in the immersive training and the entire customer service is more memorable for the learner.”

Wybren Bosma: “Another advantage is that VR learning is super short and high impact. Traditional programs often last for three days and you have to disrupt learners’ workflow. For talent in hospitality, that’s just not feasible but with VR, we can train the same skills in 30 minutes.

And from an operational point of view, it reduces the training’s cost per hour and quickens talent’s onboarding time because the delivery is so much simpler than a traditional program with trainers and classroom sessions. Plus L&D managers can really standardize the quality of training for their talent at scale.

What I also see is that, for example with cross and upselling in hospitality, VR trains skills that have direct business impact. We can design the learning to be result-driven and have significant return on investment because you target specific skills.”

What are the common objections from internal stakeholders to VR and how can L&D managers handle this?

Frank van Loon: “You could argue it’s the pricing but from an L&D point of view, you pay for shorter high-quality learning. As a learning team, you need to look at the full cost of the operation but keep in mind this reduced training time and higher engagement.”

Wybren Bosma:  “What I also hear is once learners have done the experience, they ask: ‘Why do I need a headset for this? I could also do it in 2D’. But that gets you back to the point – there’s no escape from the learning material.

I think, once people understand that, there’s no objection. And from previous business cases I’ve seen in the banking and retail industry, immersive learning really works and has a high impact on learners.”

Is VR best used in blended learning journeys or as a stand-alone solution?

Frank van Loon: “At Albron our idea is to blend VR into learners’ onboarding day. We do the generic onboarding in the morning and then introduce them to VR.

It’s a really effective way of welcoming people to the company and our learning journeys because it makes the experience more memorable. For me it makes much more sense to use VR in broader learning solutions and not as a stand alone operation.”

Wybren Bosma: “I’d also recommend using VR as part of a broader learning journey. From a practical point of view, these headsets aren’t lying around for everybody to use. If you can make VR part of an onboarding journey, for example, then the learners are already in one place and it gives them a much smoother experience of  going through the immersive learning.”

What does Albron ultimately expect to achieve with immersive training?

Frank van Loon: “It comes down to learner engagement and business impact. In the end, Albron and the L&D team exist by creating the best hospitality experience for our guests and networking partners.

We want to engage learners to encourage them to stay longer at Albron and of course, if people are happy with our L&D service, we are grateful for that. But our number one priority is ensuring the best hospitality experience.”

Wybren Bosma: “For Albron the goal is to implement short and high impact interventions for their talent’s cross and upselling skills. Especially in hospitality and other industries like retail, it’s about the business case around immersive learning and training the right skills.  

And we want VR to become a stable part of Albron’s upskilling program to really engage their learners and make sure their talent has a positive experience.”

Interested to learn how you can use VR to upskill your talent in less time and with lower costs? Speak to our consultants.

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We offer a scalable employee training solution. It lets you continuously upskill your people.

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