Connecting Virtually and In Person: A Blended Approach

Carina Roennfeld-Peters
Director of Training
Star Alliance

The 28 member airlines of Star Alliance, the world’s longest-serving international airline alliance, handle customers all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of people work for our diverse member airlines. With this kind of audience, providing training can be a challenging task.

At the Star Alliance Services GmbH in Frankfurt, we employ 70 full-time staff, who develop and implement new products and services together with the member carriers. We develop training for the member carriers’ employees, to ensure proper and consistent delivery of these products and services to the end customer.

Although many of our airlines have their own training, it is important for Star Alliance to communicate a universal message. We need standardized training so everyone can be trained according to our requirements. We offer this training to our member carriers so all their employees can understand the entire picture and see that they are an important part of a much bigger entity.

To accomplish this goal, we needed material that is consistent, less complex, and a good value for the money. Our training needs to target a broad audience from the CEO to the people who handle baggage. We also have to serve multiple cultures, so the training needs to be easy to understand and translatable.

While an electronic solution allows the information to get to all our locations in the most economical way, it would not serve all our needs on its own. We created a set of eLearning modules combined with human interaction that includes an Overview, Basic Knowledge modules, and Functional Training to help our member carriers enhance their employees’ knowledge about our products and services. In bringing knowledge to the employees, we encourage people to experience the learning together. Employees take the e-courses when it best suits their schedules, and then share their learnings with their peers. This interaction is an added advantage to the learning, a beneficial “side effect,” you could say.

We divided the Overview course into seven modules to offer both convenience and relevance. It covers an introduction; our history and industry; our vision, mission, and purpose; our customer; our products and services; and Star Alliance team roles and responsibilities. To reinforce the learning, the last module allows people to practice applying their knowledge in a scenario or branching simulation. A facilitator’s guide for each module makes it easy to launch and easy to provide classroom follow-up.

We communicate the courses through email messages to airline representatives in the training area. Our modules are deployed on CDs, on a Root Learning-hosted website, and on Star Alliance member carriers’ own Learning Management Systems. The training is provided in English, with carriers having the option to translate as required. We then review the work to ensure appropriate quality levels are being attained.

We have received excellent feedback on all fronts regarding quality, how we deploy the courses, information provided, and job aids. Whenever I introduce the modules, people love what they first see, and they like it even better when they try it themselves!

We have found that combining electronic learning and face-to-face training works well for us. Our new learning curriculum will be a mix of traditional, blended and eLearning.

We are also putting links on our website to connect people with each other using social media.

In the end, we are providing the employees of our member airlines with consistent and high-quality training material to learn about the Star Alliance products and services so they feel comfortable in applying their knowledge in their daily jobs. With this basis, they can deliver the customer promise on a consistent level across the entire network of 21,200 daily flights to 1,172 airports in 181 countries.