Using Gamification in the Hospitality Industry: Work Can Be Fun, Too

gamification in the hospitality industryIn 2013, the gamification industry generated about $420 million nationwide, and by 2018, that figure is expected to skyrocket to $5.5 billion. These figures come from a recent study by MarketsAndMarkets, which points out that the roots of gamification -- rewarding people with points and prizes, like in a game -- aren’t a new concept at all. But with the explosion of smartphones, social media, and other digital technology, gamification has now morphed into a powerful tool used by employers and marketers alike in order to motivate human behavior.

Gamification has also made its mark on the hospitality industry. Today, gamification in the hospitality industry has inspired many brands to use gamification apps and programs to incentivize their teams, build a happier work environment, and encourage some healthy competition between associates. At E Group, we work to uncover ways to motivate and engage employees in the hospitality industry. We recently wrote an eBook for hospitality employees that's about harnessing social media to increase employee engagement in the hospitality industry, and it explores the incredible ways that social media can help forge a workforce that’s engaged not only in their individual roles, but in your hospitality brand as a whole.

In this blog, we’ll focus specifically on just one aspect of using social media in the hospitality sector: gamification and incentives. You’ll learn much more about gamification platforms for hospitality employees and social media’s link to employee engagement in our eBook for hospitality employees, but for now, we’ll cover the basics.


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What Is
Gamification in the Hospitality Industry?

First of all, if you’re reading this and thinking What’s gamification anyway?, no problem. Let’s take a step back and talk about the popular workplace phenomenon known as “gamification”.

As we mentioned before, gamification is the practice of adding game-like elements to something that otherwise wouldn’t be a game, such as safety, sales, or new employee onboarding. Gamification draws on the innate human need to connect and compete with others by rewarding or incentivizing “players” (in this case, employees) who actively take part. This explanation from the Harvard Business Review sums up the trend nicely:

Gamification takes the essence of games — attributes such as fun, play, transparency, design and competition — and applies these to a range of real-world processes inside an organization, including learning & development.

For example, a company might create a gamification platform for its sales team. Each sales rep would create a profile on the platform and set a sales goal for that given time period. Then, as sales roll in, the results are updated on the platform in real time and displayed on a leaderboard. Other “players” in the company, whether in sales or not, can “like” and comment on the sales updates, and when the “game” is over, the winner is rewarded with a virtual badge or other tangible incentive, per the individual company’s choice.

Gamification isn’t just for sales, in fact, it works in nearly any job role or function. Companies use it for training, recruiting, onboarding, safety, and generally to increase motivation and productivity. All in all, the goal is to build social-oriented, competitive, and transparent work environment. Below are some real-world examples of gamification platforms for hospitality employees as well as in other industries.

Great Examples of Gamification in the Hospitality Industry and Beyond

Designing gamification platforms for hospitality employees requires a deep understanding of your company culture and employees, but it opens the door for plenty of creativity. Company platforms often include features like personalized “player” profiles and virtual badges that denote various achievements. These game-like features promote a fun and competitive environment in scenarios that, quite frankly, might not be seen as fun otherwise.

For example, in 2013, Deloitte revamped its online training program to include gamification aspects. It added features such as badges and leaderboards and eventually increased its program traffic by 37 percent.

“Participants, who are spending increased amounts of time on the site and completing programs in increasing numbers, show almost addictive behavior… users have become engaged and more likely to complete the online training programs. The Academy has had over 20,000 executive users since its inception in 2008.”

A few years ago, Marriott took a similar approach to revolutionize its recruiting efforts for retsaurant staff. On a virtual game called MyMarriott, potential recruits worked an average day in the life of Marriott kitchen staff. This gave potential employees an inside look at the Marriott work culture and allowed for a bit of fun in the otherwise tedious process that is a job application.

The social aspect of gamification platforms for hospitality employees happens on a platform’s social stream, which is similar to a Facebook or LinkedIn newsfeed. On the social stream, employees can view progress and updates in real time, and they can virtually interact with the updates. Not only does this feature enhance the competitive spirit of gamification platforms, but it increases the likelihood of social interaction between employees. Deloitte’s platform is just one example of how companies combine gamification with social media to increase employee engagement in the hospitality industry:

To help solidify the community, each learner’s home screen receives news feed updates from the users they follow. They can then interact with each other’s status updates, in a format similar to that on Facebook.

Building gamification platforms for hospitality employees is an effective way to enhance the culture and motivation around your workplace. Discover much more about the various channels by which you can use social media to increase employee engagement in the hospitality industry in our eBook for hospitality employees, and subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest trends in employee engagement.


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About The Author

Christina Germano

Christina Germano is the Content Marketing Manager for E Group. She's passionate about health and travel, and she loves cooking, yoga, and reading Harry Potter. Christina is an inbound marketer and a proud journalism and political science alumna of the University of Maryland, College Park.

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