As competition in the hospitality sector intensifies and service expectations rise, many hotels have upgraded their employee development programmes as part of a drive to improve standards. To ensure staff in Hong Kong embrace its 'Shangri-La cares' service-culture concept, Island Shangri-La has modified its training programmes to include more interactive elements. 'Our trainers are referred to as 'angels' because they bring over good news to the teams,' says Kenneth Wai, the hotel's area director for human resources. 'Our training emphasises the sharing and passing down of corporate culture and practical skills.' The hotel has also launched a supervisory excellence programme for managers and supervisors. The programme aims to help them reinforce the hotel's corporate culture by communicating core values to staff, Wai says. 'A major focus of our training course is the continuous upgrading of service standards, and the enhancement of the core practices of various divisions.' Following its rebranding last year, The Mira Hong Kong initiated 'The Mira Way', a staff education campaign focusing on the hotel's vision, mission and guiding principles, says Katy Fok, director of human resources at The Mira. The hotel has incorporated elements of this campaign into its two-day orientation programme for new hires. 'It focuses on setting targets and the ways to achieve them. It is about translating 'The Mira Way' into tangible actions that resonate with team members,' Fok says. Hotel ICON will launch an employee training programme highlighting the new wave in hospitality. Developed by the hotel in conjunction with the school of hotel and tourism management at the Polytechnic University, the programme emphasises 'Asian hospitality', says Judy Hou, director of human capital at Hotel ICON. 'Asian hospitality refers to hotel professionals who are stylish, passionate, confident and responsive. The objective of the programme is to give them the right tools and approach to do their jobs properly. It also helps them build self-confidence and develop the ability to think outside the box.' Hotels are responding to the growing meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions sector by developing skills in events management. Island Shangri-La has a comprehensive knowledge and skills enhancement programme for events managers. The programme aims to provide managers with an in-depth understanding of the operations of all divisions. 'As we emphasise development of existing talent, we organise cross-departmental training with a special focus on events for individuals who demonstrate interest and potential in this area,' Wai says. 'This course helps them gain insight into the operations of other divisions.'