IHG’s Crowne Plaza brand has announced a new training programme aimed at making staff more attuned to guests’ needs, through “a heightened awareness of the skills of emotional intelligence”.

The scheme – which has been trialing at four UK and Ireland properties in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Dublin – will roll out across the brand’s 98 European hotels next year in association with emotional intelligence experts at The School of Life.

Staff will undertake “Dare to Connect” training focusing on six core skills – vulnerability, self-belief, connection, anticipation, authenticity, and perseverance.

Crowne Plaza says that participants will learn ways to alleviate guests’ anxiety by “responding to, and anticipating the particular emotional needs people can experience when they are travelling for work”, as well as becoming “better able to recognise cues in guests’ behaviour and make natural and authentic connections with guests without following a script”.

The brand said that the trial has delivered “promising initial results”, with overall service scores up by four percentage points, and overall experience scores growing by up to five per cent.

The initiative will also see destination postcards given to guests at check-in, to “encourage moments of connection both with Crowne Plaza colleagues and with friends and family back home”, and a box of questions, games and activities available for meeting delegates, designed to improve engagement and productivity.

Commenting on the news Sarah Stein, Head of Content at The School of Life said:

“Emotionally intelligent connections between hotel team members and travellers helps create a positive feedback loop.

“Customers want to return to a brand not only because the products or services are good, but because they feel, in a more significant way, that they are understood and belong there.

“Guests are far more likely to continue using a service and to praise it if they feel this connection.”

Earlier this year Crowne Plaza received approval for the patenting of its WorkLife Room, as part of a US$200 million investment to transform the brand in the Americas region.

The group said that the room concept – which features an angled bed and sofa “nook” – “is designed to help modern business travellers unleash their productivity and provide them with a space that fits their blended lifestyle”.