Mike Haynie is the CEO of the Maryland Center for Hospitality Training. When the coronavirus shut down the hospitality industry, he partnered with Dupont Laboratories for a training program called Back to Work Safely. Now, Haynie, who has spent a career in the hotel industry, is prepared to go global with this program.
What was your first job in the hospitality industry?
I was a security supervisor at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Standing in the lobby one day, it hit me how exciting this field was. I had just met Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, Smoky Robinson, and Senator Edward Kennedy, all in one week. And the back of the house, with over more than one thousand employees, was just as exciting. There was unbelievable energy and always something going on. It was like a daily house party and I could not wait to go to work.
Tell us about the Back to Work Safely training program.
The design of the program happened about three in the morning. I could not sleep after listening to a group of business people on a Reopen Maryland taskforce call. Many expressed concerns about training their employees. I knew we had to do better than handing workers a mask, gloves and telling them to follow CDC guidelines. In developing this training with Dupont Laboratories, I was specific that the language had to be clear and digestible for everyone and must include the least educated worker. It also had to be in Spanish for our Hispanic population. I was especially sensitive to Black and brown essential workers in health care and the service industries, given the high rate of infections and exposure. The training covers everything a worker needs to know, including where viruses come from, how they spread, properly wearing PPE, signs of physical illness and what to do to about them, and signs of stress and anxiety and how to manage them. All of this is covered in one hour and three minutes.
Who has used it so far?
The Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Worcester County and Ocean City Hotel Motel Association were among the first to use it.
How do you see the hospitality industry evolving because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
In general, there will be a change in how personal space is respected. Hotels will enhance the virtual check-in process, and it may become a norm, as well as integration of virtual participation in meetings and conferences. The daily cleaning of rooms may become a thing of the past (I never thought it was a necessity). It will be really interesting to see how the cruise lines handle space and the public’s comfort. Bottom line, the public loves its ability to vacation any and everywhere, be it large venues such as Six Flags amusement parks or the intimate settings of a Sagamore Pendry Hotel. It will be up to the industry to set guidelines and health and safety standards and educating the public to the new standards with meaningful consequences for non-compliance.
What is next for you?
I am developing the Global Training Centers national brand which will take our training to national and international levels with some phenomenal partners, relationships I have developed over the decades in the industry. We are opening in North Carolina, Florida and Nairobi, Kenya.
Finally, a favorite hotel that others should visit?
The Westin Resort in Costa Rica has mind-blowing service. Locally, the Sagamore Pendry Hotel has redefined what quality means in Baltimore.