Key Points

My frustrating room key experience in Orlando demonstrates why customer service, communication, and technical training is so critical.

The woman who checked me in at the Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort for the Training 2013 Conference & Expo last month was friendly, courteous, and helpful. She handed me my room key, drew the route to my room on the map, told me where I could get food and go swimming, and asked if I had any questions. I cheerfully (and, it turned out, mistakenly) replied, “No, I’m good.”

Being directionally challenged, I located my room more by luck than anything else after a 10-minute circuitous walk. I stood in front of the door with my key, vainly looking for the slot to insert it. “Oh,” I thought, “it must be a swipe thing, like the credit card machine.” So I tried swiping it on top, on the side, underneath. Nothing.

Desperate, since I was supposed to be at a cocktail party in 15 minutes, I wildly waved the key card in front of the door. Then I heard a soft snick. I lunged for the door handle and fell inside. Disney magic at its best.

I washed up, hung up my clothes, grabbed my purse, and headed out the door. I was halfway down the corridor when I looked down and saw I was still wearing my…sneakers. Sigh. Not exactly cocktail party attire. And I still had no idea how to get back into my room. I’m sure Version 2 of my key card dance was even funnier than the first one.

At the party, I asked my photographer how to get into the room. “You just hold the key card up to the Mickey Mouse ears embossed in the plate on the door,” he said in an infuriatingly know-it-all tone. Then he confessed he only knew that because HIS front-desk clerk passed along that tidbit of information when he checked in.

And that’s why customer service training is so crucial. And why communication training is equally crucial. And why technical training (especially for me!) is critical.

That brings me to the cover story in this issue—the first of a five-part series. Despite a high unemployment rate, many employers today claim they can’t fill their positions. Why? Because of a variety of skills gaps that run the gamut from science, technology, education, and math (STEM) skills to soft skills such as communication and leadership skills. To find out what is causing these gaps and what employers and their Training departments, employees, and the education system can—and should—do differently, see “Bridging the Skills Gap.” For tips on customer service training, check out “Customer Service with a Smile.”

Finally, don’t miss our Training 2013 photo coverage in “Magical Moments”—no, you won’t find a photo of my key card dance, but you will find photos of attendees dancing with keynoter Matt Harding. For those of you who missed it or would like to see the keynote video again, visit: One word: inspirational!

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 Top 100 and Emerging Training Leaders.