Hilton Worldwide Goes High Tech to Upgrade Training

Bernard's at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago.

Winning the Best Overall beverage program VIBE Vista Award at the VIBE Conference sometimes requires a significant overhaul of previous programs. Hilton Worldwide's “Better Bar Experience” is just such a retooling, winning them the 2016 VIBE Vista Award for Best Overall beverage program among hotels, cruise lines and casinos.

The program supports and expands the extensive Hilton strategic aims by aligning with their main objective for last year: elevating the bar experience for all guests. By providing teams with better training and product knowledge, they aimed to increase check average, guest satisfaction, and encourage repeat guests from the local community.

The BBE offered different elements for the various banners the chain flies: tier three for Embassy Suites, Hiltons and DoubleTrees that have a minimal bar service; tier two for Hilton, DoubleTree and Embassy units with high bar revenue; and tier one for the Waldorfs and Conrads, and some hybrid Hiltons and Curios.

The overall goal was to take team member training and engagement to the next level. By properly training teams, the program was designed to enhance the customer experience and guest interaction by focusing on providing a better beverage experience through utilization of correct glassware, ice, uniforms, and atmosphere, including both music and lighting.

Giving the various far-flung properties a structured guide to follow as they completed required bar, uniform, tool, glassware, and training upgrades was essential. The guide is a fully interactive PDF with links throughout that guide the user to documents and websites for more information. The BBE guide is downloadable for easy reference or it can be viewed as an E-zine for quick reference online.

With support on the Flavors of Hilton website, a quick reference for the team for all information relevant to the program is kept top of mind. Server training is one of the main components of the program. It includes a set pre-shift calendar that details daily topics that should be covered in each meeting, as well as giving teams a monthly schedule to follow. Reminders of in-house tastings with local brand ambassadors and product representatives – as well as recorded interactive tasting videos created by partners like Gallo (who helped create a mandatory Wine and Spirits Academy for all managers and supervisors) – are also a component of server training. This is in addition to a number of other mandatory trainings team members are required to complete throughout the year.

Hilton uses several methods to chart results: results of guest satisfaction surveys, check averages, daily covers, percentage of beverage sales year over year, and participation in training and education programs. Results from the beta program (metrics of 12 hotels were measured over a period of 8 weeks) showed an overall increase in all metrics. Bar and lounge guest satisfaction scores rose by 8 percent and check average increased by 13 percent, as did lounge revenue within the same timeframe from the previous year.

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