- Hilton is using Oculus virtual reality (VR) technology to train employees across its 6,000 resorts and properties on facilities, operations and empathy, according to a March 10 article published by Oculus parent company Facebook.
- The training program, titled Hotel Immersion, was developed in collaboration with learning solutions developer SweetRush, Facebook said. The tech gives employees an immersive look at all hotel departments and allows them to practice setting up room-services trays, checking in guests and cleaning rooms.
- Another experience offered in the training, Exceed with Empathy, has employees encounter five "frustrating" scenarios: slow restaurant service, an improperly set up meeting room, a nonfunctioning digital key, a drawn-out checkout process, and a broken coffee maker. Facebook said Hilton expects VR will shrink employees' in-class training time down from four hours to 20 minutes.
Hilton is one of a few examples of organizations that have turned to immersive technology to tackle empathy training. In October 2019, the University of California, Berkeley, announced plans to adopt VR to train learners on handling "challenging interpersonal moments." VR solutions firm Talespin announced last year it had developed a tool for training workers on communication, empathy and leadership using scenarios like a termination meeting.
The announcement follows recent initiatives by Hilton to improve its employee experience. In 2018, the company said it would upgrade the areas in which employees work, renovating cafeterias, locker rooms and other spaces.
Empathy is becoming more of a talking point in corporate circles, particularly given the growth of more serious concerns like harassment. A potential response may be training that centers on leaders' and workers' emotional intelligence. VR and even in-person coaching may be able to improve emotional intelligence by focusing on skills like self-awareness, self-management, relationship management and social awareness, sources previously told HR Dive.
Not all employers recognize emotional intelligence as an area for training investment, however. A 2019 survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that less than 20% of company respondents instilled emotional intelligence into their corporate cultures, and one-third of survey participants didn't see the benefit of emotional intelligence to their organizations.
VR may be a growing option for learning delivery entering the next decade, but learning technology and training experts who spoke to HR Dive earlier this year believe that matching learning to employees may be a more important product development than individual delivery methods going forward.