On the face of it, the Scenic Hotel Group doesn’t seem like a candidate for deeply embedded training programmes. The employees are excellent, the business is very profitable and it’s one of New Zealand’s most famous hospitality and accommodation brands.
So why does Scenic Hotel Group place huge importance on staff training and development?
Scenic HR and Training Manager Mark McLean, knows that to provide excellent service and an outstanding Kiwi experience, you have to be continually developing and training your people.
“We have very dedicated employees who have a really positive attitude to training. They are keen to learn more and they want to be more proficient in their roles,” says Mark.
Scenic Hotel Group has 18 hotels in New Zealand and two in the Pacific Islands in Nuie and Tonga. Currently, 37 employees from across the Group are completing ServiceIQ training programmes on the job. This includes chefs, receptionists, wait staff, food and beverage managers, housekeepers and trainee managers completing the ServiceIQ NZ Hospitality Diploma (Level 5) programme.
The business also runs a lot of additional training, but the ServiceIQ offer is highly attractive because it leads to nationally recognised qualifications, and that’s a big plus for team members, says Mark.
“Our staff totally want the investment. They gain a great sense of pride from achieving their qualification. They have something meaningful they are working towards, it empowers them, makes them more confident, and they know what they are doing. And all this comes across in the quality of the product and service they deliver.
Training has its rewards for the top rating business but also offers some stunning benefits for its employees.
Each month for 12 months, every hotel across the group selects an employee who has done something outstanding, and at the end of the year the two top achievers chosen from each property pack their bags for the tour of a lifetime aboard the Scenic Super Star Trip.
It’s a mutually beneficial reward where employees enjoy a luxurious holiday rich with sightseeing, and gain an understanding of what it’s like to be a guest in some of New Zealand’s most exciting locations, says Mark.
“We want our staff to experience our hotels as a guest would, and to gain some first-hand knowledge of the attractions that different destinations offer visitors. It’s really important that our employees not only know our properties, but that they also understand the destinations. We benefit from that when they pass on their regional knowledge to guests in our other hotels,” says Mark.
The winners range in age anywhere between 18 and 60.
The 2017 Scenic Super Star trip involved an 8-day tour of the businesses’ southern properties and sensational attractions. It started in Dunedin with a welcome lunch, two days taking in Dunedin’s top tourist hot spots, and two nights of luxury at Scenic Southern Cross Hotel. Next stop was a two day stay at one of the busiest properties, the Heartland Croydon Hotel in Gore, where the group enjoyed an energetic day climbing ropes, rafting and riding the flying fox as part of team building at Camp Columba.
It was then on to Queenstown for another two days of excitement experiencing the thrill of the Skyline luge, the Shotover jet boat ride, and a tour of Wakatipu aboard the city’s famous lady of the lake, the Earnslaw.
A scenic drive to Haast followed with a stop for lunch and an exhilarating river safari before getting back on the bus bound for the beautiful Fox Glacier and Franz Josef where Scenic has several stunning properties including five-star eco retreat Te Waonui. Here, the team enjoyed some of the best adventures on offer; including helicopter flights to the world-famous glaciers, followed by quad biking up river to visit the Kiwi Centre, horse riding, and luxuriating in hot pools and the Te Waonui spa.
The final highlight was a celebratory night at the Cotswold Hotel in Christchurch, complete with a glittering gala dinner and presentation of awards and qualification certificates by Scenic owner Lani Hagaman.
“They are treated like royalty all the way,” says Mark. “In fact, the first year we took the trip our people were so overwhelmed they wept.”
It’s not surprising that employee retention isn’t an issue for the Scenic Hotel Group.
“It’s an extremely family oriented company and that’s one of the reasons we have such good employee retention,” says Mark.
“Our owner has a saying which is so true with us: ‘once you are part of the Scenic family, you can check out but you can never leave’. A lot of our employees go off and experience the world and then come back to join us again.
“To Scenic Hotels, this is all part of our success.”
The luxury hotel lodge, Te Waonui Forest Retreat nestled in the rainforests near the Franz Josef Glacier offers a five-star eco-retreat experience.