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Why This Hotel Asked Upright Citizens Brigade To Teach Its Staff Improv

Travelers can be an unpredictable bunch, but one Marriott-owned hotel brand wants its global staff to be ready for anything.

Why This Hotel Asked Upright Citizens Brigade To Teach Its Staff Improv
[Photo: courtesy of Moxy Hotel]

The next time you check into a Moxy Hotel, don’t be surprised if the desk clerk answers your request for extra towels with a “Yes, and . . . ?”

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For the uninitiated, that two-word phrase is the hallmark of improv comedy troupes everywhere, and Moxy wants its staff to be able to roll with anything that guests lob at them. To help things along, the Marriott International hotel brand brought in some pros: the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), the improv comedy group founded by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” explains Vicki Poulos the senior global brand director at Moxy Hotels, with a laugh.

Since technology is taking care of a lot of the functional, transactional work at hotels these days, Moxy Hotels, which has outposts across the United States, Europe, and Asia, wanted its global staff to be prepared to work with guests from around the world in a fun, engaging way. “Employees at Moxy play multiple roles, wear multiple hats, and are always on stage,” says Poulos. “We wanted to create a training program that gives them the skills and the comfort to be ‘on’ all the time.”

[Photo: courtesy of Moxy Hotel]
So after an informal staff poll to make sure the staff wanted to be trained in the Art of Improv, Moxy brought in members from UCB to teach the improv basics. That meant learning to deal with the realities of hospitality in a funny, uplifting, and good-natured way. UCB helped Moxy create a training program, which incorporates the fun-fun-fun of improv comedy into interactions with hotel guests from around the world. The process involved, among other things, role-playing scenarios with UCB members masquerading as Marriott Rewards guests.

The hotel also created a series of improv training videos featuring UCB-trained actors, which will hopefully teach Moxy’s staff around the world how to be engaging, informative, and fun—but also professional—while working in customer service.

Moxy is letting guests join the action as well. “We are bringing Upright Citizen Brigade performers into the bars,” says Poulos, explaining that during hotel Happy Hours, brave guests can join in an actual UCB improv workshop and learn “how to get their improv on.” Poulos adds, “We like our guests to have a lot of fun.” Luckily, there will be some complimentary liquid courage to ease things along.

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The “Hey Moxy!” improv workshops kick off May 20 at Moxy NYC Times Square.

This article has been updated to reflect the start date of the “Hey Moxy!” improv workshops 

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About the author

Melissa Locker is a writer and world renowned fish telepathist.

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