We also begin to look externally to benchmark other examples of world class standards of service in our industry. We conducted benchmark visits with other successful companies in the hospitality industry and in other industries to learn how they selected and developed their employees to achieve the enviable reputations that they enjoy with their customers.
As we learned, we felt it was important for managers to see that they were not solely responsible for the results of their area. We took the position that each manager or supervisor could better support our business goals for guest experience and profitability if they effectively mobilized their team and managed their talent. We also wanted them to spend more time catching people 'doing things right' and inspiring them to 'go the extra mile.'
A second important driver for the curriculum was the Kerzner growth plan for Atlantis' near future. One of the major concerns of our owners was making sure that we had the leadership talent pool in place to keep pace with our aggressive growth. Having the talent and leadership in place to enable the growth plan quickly became recognized by us and top management as a critical success factor.
Dr. Myszkowski: How much growth was planned and what were the talent management implications?
Beverly: The Kerzners acquired the bankrupt properties that formed the foundation of the current Atlantis in 1994 and over the next four years essentially rebuilt them. This was Phase I of the development. In 1998, we completed Phase II with the opening of the 1,200-room Royal Towers and a 50,000- square-foot casino. We grew from about 2,500 employees to about 5000. In 2006 and 2007 as we opened Phase III, we grew from approximately 6,500 employees to almost 9,000. And, we hope to use our talent base in the Bahamas to serve as a feeder to other emerging Kerzner developments, such as Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai and a number of One & Only Resorts around the world.
We need to integrate all of these new employees and managers, meet or exceed our service standards, and grow our talent as quickly and as effectively as we can. There is no other option.
Dr. Myszkowski: How did you come to focus on developing coaching skills as key part of that curriculum to address those needs?
Beverly: From the beginning, we knew that coaching was critical to our mangers' and employees' success. We knew from other service businesses that the everyday behaviors and actions of satisfied, engaged, and motivated employees immediately translated into guest satisfaction, which translates in our business into higher occupancy rates, more return visits by our guests, and ultimately higher profitability.
But as we began this journey we found that we needed to put a foundation in place before we could successfully introduce coaching as a desired part of our culture. Our first attempt at delivering training in coaching skills (prior to engaging Lore) addressed some of our concerns about improving operations, processes and how our employees were being led. But when we