Getting the Message

I’m writing about my experience at the relaunch of the Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, HI, because it emphasized for me once again the power of our mantra: Training Matters.

I had the incredible opportunity to visit Hawaii for the first time last month for the relaunch of the Turtle Bay Resort on the north shore of the island of Oahu. The staff of 600 was friendly, dedicated, passionate, and committed to making each guest’s stay a memorable experience.

But I quickly learned that was not always the case (which immediately sparked my reaction of: How could anyone not be over the moon about working there amid sun-drenched beaches, sparkling turquoise seas, and windswept coconut trees?). But the employees were jaded by a succession of owners interested only in making money and not respecting the Hawaiian culture. And there was serious distrust about potential overdevelopment of this virtually untouched side of the island.

New owner Replay Resorts invested more than $40 million in property renovations and rebranding, but also realized the importance of investing time and money in training. As a result, CEO Drew Stotesbury and GM/VP Danna Holck spent two weeks talking to every employee in groups of five to 10, and together, they formulated Turtle Bay’s six core values (or pillars) that set the standard by which the staff operates and serves its guests:

  • Manawa (time)
  • Pono (goodness)
  • Malama (to care for)
  • Hanai (support of family)
  • Aloha (kindness)
  • KamaAina (local)

These values are reinforced in three customer service training modules that all employees must complete. This is not a once-and-done training, but an ongoing effort that is paying dividends. You’ll learn more about my experience and the training at Turtle Bay in the January/February 2015 issue of Training.

I’m writing about this experience because it emphasized for me once again the power of our mantra: Training Matters. And it seems the message is resonating within the industry as training expenditures, salaries, and the average number of hours of training provided to employees all increased in 2013/2014. Our 2014 Training Industry Report found that total 2014 U.S. training expenditures—including payroll and spending on external products and services—jumped 11.7 percent to $61.8 billion. On average, employees received 40.7 hours of training per year. And our 2014 Salary Survey showed a 3.4 percent increase in average training salaries to $81,334.

In “Talent Creation and the Bottom Line,” author Edward E. Gordon advocates strengthening the Training Matters message even more by implementing a new talent-creating financial metric that appears as an investment rather than an expense on the balance sheet, so businesses can track the impact of training and education investments on profits.

Our Training 2015 Conference & Expo, to be held February 9-11, in Atlanta, GA, extends the Training Matters message into 2015 and beyond. Visit to register today.

In the words of my new friends at Turtle Bay, “Mahalo” (thank you) for a wonderful year. Best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season and a prosperous New Year! I look forward to seeing you in (hopefully) Hot-lanta in February!

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.