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Can playing games affect your hotel’s bottom line? Yes, it can!

21 January 2016


I have always been very passionate about training and engaging with the Academic world throughout my career in hospitality. I have been fortunate enough to fulfil both these passions; As a member of the advisory board of my ‘Alma Mater’ Salford University Business School and as a Hotelier, I have mentored and trained over 200 students in the last 9 years.

At a recent board meeting at the University, a very wise academic, Professor Chris Brady, started a discussion around the future of education and how gamification will impact learning. That same week, whilst at my sisters house, I saw my 12 year old nephew using his I-Pad for what I thought was a “game” but was actually a Maths assignment.


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It made me think: Is the traditional delivery of training dead?

Hospitality businesses live and die by their staff. Poor training often leads to unsatisfactory guest experiences and poor reviews, which in turn impacts the bottom line. Why do so many hospitality businesses not invest in staff training? Or are they investing but not engaging the staff suitably due to their delivery methods?

I think the broader problem is that often the managers and trainers may not be trained themselves. I have been working on an advisory board with the CMI and a number of Universities on a Degree Level Apprenticeship scheme (insert link). This scheme was designed with a view of “up skilling” senior staff that have the experience but maybe not some of the structured learning behind them. The scheme has now been approved by the Government. This, I believe, is a scheme that is so helpful, particularly for Hospitality business, where a majority of promotions are given on the basis of seniority rather than proven leadership skills. The “Accidental Manager” if you will.

Another factor is the relative non existence or poor delivery of training schemes outside of the big players. This results in the people being trained neither engaging nor embracing the training methodology. During the course of my work, I have had the opportunity to peruse some of the training manuals designed by the big players in the Hotel space, and to be honest, I got bored after page 2! Granted that I am 35 and have a poor attention span, but if you give these manuals to any management trainee or intern (all in their early 20s) starting their placement, they would not get past the first page!

‘So what needs to happen?’ I hear you cry! We need to change the existing methods and deliver training in more innovative ways. Hence, the Gamification of Training.

The definition of Gamification is “the process of applying gaming designs and concepts to learning or training scenarios in order to make them more engaging and entertaining for the learner. In game-based learning events, learners compete directly against one or more individuals or participate individually in an interactive experience that rewards learning performance in some way.”

Using technology in this way will bring about a change in both the training experience as well as the way people are hired. A far more scientific process can be utilised for designing these programmes, resulting in hiring happier staff and better staff retention. A happy and loyal team tends to result in much better service and customer experience provided to guests, whihc leads to a much better bottom line.

Imagine handing a new applicant an I-pad instead of a sheet of paper. When filling out the required details they are presented with a number of games, designed to test the core skills needed for that role. These games, designed by a psychologist, will test core skills appropriate for the role the applicant is applying for. Whether it is dealing with a complaint, how to handle raw meats or accountancy aptitude, the tests will give the interviewer a far better gauge of the applicant’s skills than a boring sheet of paper.

In regards an induction programme, there could be a video from the founder of the business, or a run through of the history of the business. This combined with other data points would allow for a consistent format of delivering content to make sure all staff have a equal opportunity of learning and engaging.

Ongoing training can also be delivered through an app that the staff can download on to their smartphones and have various pieces of training content delivered on a regular basis. Whether it be a serious health and safety change or something lighter like a new special in the restaurant, it means a constant and more engaging delivery of training content. This, of course, will and should be supplemented with human interaction. I feel this way will deliver a far more in-depth level of engagement and therefore a bigger buy in from the staff member into the brand and the business.

I really think this will become a massive thing for the Hospitality space, and for once, it will be interesting to see if the industry leads or lags behind as it has done with the emergence of other technology trends. I for one, will champion this cause and would love to engage with anyone looking to implement this in their Hotel, Hostel or Restaurant.

Now go & use your kids (or your own!) Playstation/I-pad, and work out how you could turn their/your favourite game into a training platform to get your staff more engaged.

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