Five reasons a generic learning management system isn't viable for the hospitality industry
By Duncan Campbell
Oct 23rd, 2019
Technology is meant to simplify our lives in the workplace. But here’s why a generic solution (the Learning Management System) to a bespoke problem (implementing online training for a hospitality team) doesn’t cut the mustard.

[Updated 15 May 2020]

Since embarking to build a Learning Management System that is focused purely on the needs of the hospitality industry (let's call it a hospitality LMS), I've met with countless hospitality groups around the world. Aside from all being in the same industry, the one thing that these companies have in common is that they have tried, and often failed, to implement an online training platform.

Why? The common answer is that the Learning Management System (LMS) they were sold didn’t do what it said in the brochure – all lacking the basic features that a learning platform for hospitality should have.

For Small Batch Learning, that’s good and bad news. The good: many hospitality businesses have been willing to adapt the “way they’ve always done things”, and let technology help them train their teams with an online training program. The bad: the distrust that creeps up around all online training platforms because the first attempt to implement one failed. Some managers I’ve spoken to are now sceptical of digital learning solutions and unwilling to try again.

So, what are the key features for training a hospitality team online? Well, that's covered here.

In short, you don’t visit your doctor for legal advice, so why would you implement an LMS that was built for desk workers to try to train your bartenders and service staff. Your service staff spend their entire day on their feet, so, perhaps unsurprisingly, a Learning Management System built for training at your desk will. not. work.

With that in mind, I’ve highlighted five areas hospitality managers need to consider when deciding what online training solution is right for you.


While outdated (hey, TinCanAPI!), SCORM rightfully has a place in eLearning… but in my opinion, not in online hospitality training. SCORM, put simply, is a technical standard that enables training material to be read by multiple Learning Management Systems.

It involves creating a training module in one application (an authoring program), “wrapping” it, and then uploading it in another (the learning platform that delivers the online course).

The benefits are limited, particularly if you’re using a single LMS for your online training needs. And let’s be real – why would you attempt to manage more than one LMS for your business?

The main weakness is inflexibility – for you to make one small change in the training content, you’d be required to go back to the source file (in the authoring tool), edit as required, re-wrap, re-upload to the training platform, and then re-issue the entire training module to your employees. Prior learning (of the same content except the small edit) is not recognised, and your team would need to re-do the entire piece of content.

SCORM lacks respect for your time, and your team’s time, and in a dynamic industry like hospitality, it’s a nightmare to manage. How often do you make a small change to your customer service guidelines or standard operating procedures? Now imagine repeating that process over and over…

The majority of our clients who have built SCORM-compliant content in the past are happy to have seen the last of it. Instead, our native content author allows you to create and customise content with ease – videos, audio, text, photos, GIFs, pdfs, attachments – and you choose whether to re-issue edited learning items to your team.

2. Product training

We’re not shy about telling the world how important product training is, and for good reason. Through significant testing, we’ve identified a clear correlation between product training and sales.

But the internet is a fragmented place, and that disorganisation of information makes it near impossible to gather effective product training for all the SKUs your staff need to know from a multitude of different websites, and then put it all in one learning resource.

Enter product training by Small Batch Learning. Our editorial team work with brands to ensure learning respects the learners’ time, is relevant to their role, and disassociates the training from end-consumer marketing messages.

Without specific technology to train on product knowledge – another disadvantage of a generic LMS – you’re short-changing your team and leaving revenue-generating opportunities to chance.

3. Customisation

Unlike compliance, where there is a linear approach to training, service-orientated training needs to be malleable to the requirements of your business. Every business has their own operating procedures and policies, so don’t settle for an online learning solution that doesn’t put your needs first.

Inflexible content authoring and distribution tools (you again, SCORM!) and ready-made training modules that doesn’t align with your service expectations will undermine what you’re trying to achieve through training: consistent guest experiences.

We love our content, but to show you how serious we are about helping, we’ve made it completely editable and customisable to ensure your employees are trained on the exact service expectations in your business. 

4. Micro-learning and mobile-first

The Learning Management System was designed for universities and corporates. Given your hospitality team spend their entire working life on their feet, make sure you choose a training solution that is truly mobile-first for the learner.

Mobile-first doesn’t just mean that the user interface (UI) works well on a phone. It requires an immersive experience through the phone, of which, micro-lessons are a non-negotiable.

Micro-learning, as the name suggests, focuses of key messages in small learning units that are taught to meet a specific learning outcome. Successful micro-lessons respect the learner’s time, are engaging and empowering, and deliver real results.

If your training provider expects your staff to sit behind a desk for half an hour to complete a module, they don’t understand the requirements of your business and the nature of your staff.

5. White label platform / Blueprint / Framework / Infrastructure

If you hear any of these buzzwords, walk away. Seriously. A "ready-made" solution that takes several months (or even years) to implement is not a ready-made solution at all. Also, implementation fees? Let's get this straight – a business wants to charge you to set up your business on their technology so they can continue to charge you monthly fees? Unless they're creating bespoke features that are non-negotiables for your business, don't walk... run!

Bonus round…

I’m glad you made it this far. At Small Batch Learning, we believe the “your business, my solution” mentality is dead, and I suggest that you don’t settle for a training platform that makes you mould your operations around an (inflexible) solution. Do your research, understand your training goals and define your non-negotiables.

In saying that, be ready to listen and learn. There is some method to the madness. I’ve sat through numerous meetings where the client’s non-negotiable is “long written answers to quiz questions”. It’s a wildly common request, but one that always goes by the wayside when I respond, “Great, we can have it built by next month. Quick question though – written answers need to be marked manually. With 2,200 staff, who from your team will be assigned the task of marking the questions?”... "ah yep, not that important" is generally the response.

To sign off, there are hundreds of Learning Management Systems available today, but none offer a “miracle pill” that will deliver on your online training goals without effort and engagement from you.

I can’t guarantee Small Batch Learning will meet your every training need, but I will guarantee that if you are ready to let technology help you train your team, we’ll give you the tools you need to succeed.