Army Reserves Provides Grounding in Training for Best Western's Mike Nalley

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For two decades, Mike Nalley, now senior manager of education and training at Best Western International, worked in a variety of operations roles in hotels. In the late 1990s, he started a consulting firm where he focused on the education and training of hotel personnel.

For the past dozen years, Nalley has worked in his current role in education and training at Best Western. Nalley got his first taste of training while spending a decade in the army reserves. "When you're in the army, especially in the reserves, you do a lot of training," Nalley said. "In fact, that's pretty much all you do."

Nalley's background in the army reserves has shaped how he approaches learning and training today. For one thing, Nalley fully understands the importance of repetition in learning.

"Repetition should be the cornerstone of any training program," he said. "You need to have a certain amount of opportunity for learners to try and do the task, get feedback and coaching and then meet the standard."

In 2011, Nalley helped oversee the rollout of BWI University, a new learning management system and one-stop shop for learning and training at Best Western. Nalley and his team worked to brand BWI with a collegiate flair. "We used to be known as an education and training department," Nalley said. "Now, we're trying to be known as just a university."

The introduction of BWI University has been wildly popular among employees at the hotel chains more than 4400 individual member hotels. In 2012, BWI University was Best Western's highest trafficked internal site. Part of the programs success comes from an adoption among the more than 2000 international member hotels.

The previous learning management system wasn't primed for use outside of North America. The new learning management system housed within BWI University gives options to translate programs into dozens of languages and offers Best Western's learning and training leaders abroad the opportunity to modify training to fit with cultural and geopolitical trends and norms.