February 02, 2024 •

8 min reading

In-house vs. external training: Which is right for your hotel?


How do you maintain peak performance amidst the rapid pace of the hotel industry? One crucial aspect of maintaining excellence and competitiveness is ensuring that your staff is well-trained and equipped with the right skills. However, hotels often face the dilemma of choosing between in-house training and external training programs. Both options have their pros and cons, and making the right choice can significantly impact your hotel's success.

What factors do you currently weigh when making decisions about training programs for your hotel team?

In this blog, we'll compare the advantages and disadvantages of in-house training versus external training to help hotels make an informed decision.


In-house training: Striking a balance

In-house training allows hotels to tailor their approach while striking a delicate balance between customization and cost-effectiveness. It empowers hotels to sculpt bespoke programs that align seamlessly with their unique identity and objectives.

1. Customization: Tailoring training to unique needs

In-house training offers a notable advantage in customization, allowing you to tailor programs to meet the specific needs of your hotel. This flexibility is particularly valuable when your hotel identifies specific areas for improvement, such as guest service or sustainability practices.

In these instances, in-house training empowers you to design targeted programs that address these concerns directly. For example, you can create modules that enhance personalized guest interactions, ensuring a tailored approach to customer service that brings to life your hotel unique features. Simultaneously, you can develop modules that emphasize eco-friendly practices, aligning seamlessly with your brand's values and standards for sustainability.

This tailored approach ensures that your in-house training not only addresses identified areas for improvement but also aligns closely with the unique identity and priorities of your hotel.

2. Cost-effectiveness: Long-term savings

The cost-effectiveness of in-house training becomes increasingly evident over the long term, presenting a strategic advantage, particularly for larger hotel chains. Eliminating expenses related to external trainers, such as travel, accommodation, and per-session fees, positions in-house training as a financially prudent choice.

In the context of larger establishments, the investment in developing internal expertise not only minimizes immediate costs but also establishes a foundation for sustained savings. As your hotel cultivates its pool of trainers and training resources, the long-term financial benefits become more pronounced, contributing to the overall fiscal health of the organization.

3. Consistency: Uniform excellence across the board

Ensuring a seamless and consistent guest experience is a hallmark of success in the hotel industry, and in-house training plays a pivotal role in achieving this objective.

The emphasis on consistency extends across all facets of the guest journey, from the front desk to housekeeping. Through in-house training initiatives, every staff member receives uniform and comprehensive training, fostering a unified approach to service delivery.

This commitment to consistency not only contributes to a cohesive guest experience, but also ensures unwavering adherence to brand standards. By cultivating a shared understanding and proficiency among all team members, in-house training becomes a linchpin for maintaining excellence and upholding the distinctive qualities that define your brand in the eyes of guests.

4. Limited expertise: Broadening horizons

While in-house trainers contribute valuable insights, their scope may be limited compared to the diverse experience and knowledge external experts can bring. Recognizing this, hotels can strategically augment their internal training programs. One effective approach is to incorporate occasional workshops or seminars conducted by industry experts.

This intentional collaboration serves a dual purpose:

  • it mitigates the potential limitations posed by relying solely on in-house trainers,
  • and provides staff with invaluable exposure to diverse perspectives.

These external sessions enrich the depth of training and ensure that the knowledge imparted remains dynamic and aligned with the latest industry trends. By integrating external expertise selectively, hotels strike a balance, leveraging the strengths of both internal and external resources to cultivate a well-rounded and continuously evolving training environment.

5. Resource demands: Strategic investment

The development and management of an in-house training program demand considerable resources, encompassing dedicated staff, time, and infrastructure. Recognizing this resource-intensive nature, strategic planning becomes imperative for effective implementation.

To navigate these resource demands successfully, hotels can adopt a proactive approach. Consider establishing a dedicated training team tasked with overseeing the entire lifecycle of program development and delivery. This specialized team ensures focused attention on training initiatives, optimizing the allocation of human resources.

Moreover, embracing technology proves instrumental in streamlining the in-house training process. Integrating online training modules enhances accessibility for all staff members, fostering a dynamic and inclusive learning environment. By leveraging technology, hotels not only mitigate resource constraints but also enhance the efficiency and scalability of their in-house training initiatives, ensuring that valuable resources are utilized judiciously to achieve optimal training outcomes.


External training: Embracing industry expertise

External training unveils the advantages and considerations associated with seeking external guidance, emphasizing the infusion of fresh perspectives, specialized skills, and networking opportunities. It relies on embracing the wealth of knowledge offered by industry experts beyond their hotel walls.

1. Expertise: Learning from industry leaders

Engaging external training providers stands as a strategic choice, primarily because of the wealth of experience and industry knowledge they bring to the table. External trainers, often seasoned professionals, excel in delivering top-notch training in their specific areas of expertise.

Consider, for instance, the realm of digital marketing. If the goal is to elevate your hotel's digital marketing strategies, enlisting a renowned digital marketing expert as an external trainer becomes particularly advantageous. Such an expert not only brings a wealth of experience from working with various hotels but also offers specialized insights and tactics tailored to the intricacies of the hospitality industry. This targeted expertise enhances the training experience, providing your staff with practical and innovative approaches to stay ahead in the competitive landscape. By tapping into external trainers' specialized knowledge, hotels can strategically elevate their team's skills, fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation.

2. Fresh perspective: Staying ahead of trends

Beyond imparting knowledge, external trainers can provide novel insights and ideas that propel your hotel toward the forefront of evolving trends and best practices.

To maximize the impact of this fresh perspective, it's crucial to foster an environment that encourages open discussions during training sessions. Actively promote and facilitate dialogues where staff members share their challenges and experiences. This collaborative exchange creates a dynamic learning atmosphere, allowing new ideas generated during external training to seamlessly integrate into existing practices. By embracing this interactive approach, hotels not only capitalize on the expertise brought by external trainers but also cultivate a culture of continuous improvement. This ensures that the training experience becomes a two-way street, enriching both the staff and the hotel's overall approach to staying abreast of industry dynamics.

3. Networking: Building connections beyond your hotel

External training sessions frequently bring together professionals from diverse hotels, presenting a unique chance to broaden connections and cultivate relationships beyond immediate organizational boundaries.

These networking opportunities extend beyond the confines of the training context itself. Events involving external training often attract professionals from various hotels, creating a platform for fruitful interactions. In these settings, staff members have the chance to engage in discussions, exchange ideas, and share best practices. This collaborative exchange enhances the training experience and fosters the creation of a robust professional network within the industry. By actively participating in these external training events, your hotel invests in skill development and strategically builds connections that can be leveraged for mutual growth and shared industry insights in the future.

4. Cost: Weighing immediate expense

The consideration of costs is a critical aspect when contemplating external training, as it frequently incurs higher upfront expenses, encompassing fees, travel, and accommodations for trainers.

Yet, the financial commitment to external training transcends immediate costs and should be viewed as an investment in your hotel's enduring success. Adopting a strategic perspective involves conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis. While upfront expenses may seem higher, this analysis should weigh the potential return on investment. Factors to consider include the anticipated improvements in staff performance, heightened guest satisfaction, and the long-term enhancement of your hotel's competitiveness within the industry. By embracing this comprehensive evaluation, hotels can make informed decisions, recognizing that the initial investment in external training has the potential to yield substantial and lasting benefits, ultimately positioning the hotel for sustained success.

5. Lack of customization: Bridging the gap

The challenge of customization often surfaces when considering external training programs, which may not be as finely tuned to your hotel's specific needs, potentially necessitating additional efforts for seamless integration.

To proactively address this potential lack of customization, hotels can strategically implement a two-tiered approach. Following external training sessions, integrating internal sessions becomes paramount. This bridging process allows for the customization of general industry knowledge to align precisely with your hotel's specific needs and unique identity.

For instance, if the external training emphasized customer service, subsequent internal sessions can serve as a crucial bridge, tailoring these principles to align seamlessly with your hotel's distinctive service standards. This intentional integration maximizes the impact of external training and ensures that the knowledge imparted is seamlessly woven into the fabric of your hotel's operational practices. By undertaking this dual-level strategy, hotels strike a harmonious balance, leveraging external expertise while reinforcing and customizing these insights to align perfectly with the specific nuances of their own unique brand and operational requirements.


So, which is right for your hotel?

The choice between in-house and external training largely depends on your hotel's unique circumstances and objectives. Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed decision:

1. Assess your goals: Crafting a strategic vision

To embark on a robust training strategy, start by clearly defining your hotel's training objectives. Rigorously assess whether a customized, in-house approach or external expertise better aligns with your specific needs. This introspective process serves as the foundation for an effective training framework.

Moreover, conduct regular assessments of your hotel's performance indicators. Identify areas that not only address immediate challenges, but also align with broader industry trends. Use this insightful information to set clear training goals that are not only responsive to current needs but also geared towards achieving long-term objectives. This strategic alignment ensures that your training initiatives are not merely reactive, but are proactively designed to keep your hotel ahead in the dynamic hospitality landscape.

2. Budget: Balancing immediate costs and long-term benefits

Budget considerations play a pivotal role in shaping your training strategy. Weigh the initial cost of external training against the potential long-term benefits of in-house programs, taking into account your budget constraints and financial goals.

For a nuanced approach, consider a hybrid strategy. Allocate resources for external training to acquire specialized skills that align with your hotel's objectives. Simultaneously, maintain an ongoing, cost-effective in-house training program for general skill development. This balanced allocation optimizes your budget, ensuring that both immediate needs and long-term skill development are addressed efficiently.

3. Resources: Leveraging expertise effectively

Effectively managing resources is essential for successful training programs. Evaluate your internal resources and gauge the capacity to engage external trainers seamlessly.

Consider establishing a dedicated training department, or designate existing staff members with a passion for training. Clearly define roles and responsibilities within this team, ensuring that resources are optimally utilized for efficient program development and delivery. This strategic resource management enhances the effectiveness of training initiatives and fosters a culture of continuous improvement within your organization.

4. Timeframe: Matching urgency with strategy

Consider the urgency of your training needs and tailor your approach accordingly. External programs may offer swift solutions, making them suitable for situations requiring immediate attention. On the other hand, in-house training provides ongoing, tailored support.

If your hotel is undergoing a major rebranding or adapting to new industry standards, external training may offer a quick and efficient solution to meet the pressing needs of transformation. However, for continuous improvement and the sustained adaptation to evolving trends, complement external programs with a well-structured, ongoing in-house training framework. This combination ensures a strategic balance between immediate responsiveness and long-term skill development.

5. Industry trends: Staying ahead in a dynamic landscape

To stay ahead in the dynamic hospitality landscape, staying informed about industry trends is paramount. Choose the training option that keeps your staff consistently updated with the latest knowledge and skills.

Establish a regular communication channel for sharing industry updates with your staff. Encourage active participation in webinars, conferences, and industry forums to ensure your team stays well-informed. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and engagement, your staff remains ready to implement the latest trends in their daily practices. This strategic approach not only keeps your hotel abreast of industry dynamics but also positions it as an innovative leader in the competitive hospitality landscape.

Investing in success

In conclusion, the decision between in-house and external training requires a strategic approach. Understand your hotel's unique needs and circumstances, align your choice with specific goals and resources, and ensure the best possible training outcomes. Regardless of the path chosen, investing in your staff's development is an investment in your hotel's success. After all, a well-trained team is the cornerstone of exceptional guest experiences and sustained growth in the competitive world of hospitality.

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“The current demand-supply gap of trained workforce in the Indian hospitality sector is at a shortfall of about 80%. Hospitality employers find the workforce being supplied below the industry’s high expectations. There is a definite need in India for a globally recognized vocational training that can create a pool of talented hospitality professionals,”

Sougata Roy Choudhury, CII executive director

Every person deserves the opportunity to make the most of their talents through formal and hands-on education, which should be a core objective of every country's educational system. The hospitality industry is vast in India and is projected to grow over the next decade.

To help address the hospitality skill gap issue, ITC Hotels and the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) partnered with EHL. In culmination, they launched the VET by EHL Professional Diploma Programs. This industry-aligned apprenticeship format is aimed to meeting the needs of targeted individuals with a high school diploma. The VET by EHL program is already helping to bridge the skill gap, which will strengthen India’s position as a leader in global hospitality.