February 2, 2024

Gamification in the Hospitality Industry

Research>MS Program
Written by Vlad-Iosif Benga — Contributor

In a world where the hospitality industry is more competitive than ever, businesses always look for new ways to stand out and create unforgettable customer experiences. With the rise in popularity of the gaming industry, more hospitality businesses have found that incorporating gamification in their operations appeals to a younger generation of customers.

Gamification, or the use of game features and ideas in non-game situations, has found a home in the hospitality sector where it adds elements of engagement, satisfaction and entertainment to the guest experience.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is the use of games' psychological appeal to encourage and engage people. Businesses may create more immersive and entertaining experiences for their consumers by introducing features such as competition, incentives, challenges and feedback into non-gaming circumstances. Gamification in the hotel sector goes beyond typical loyalty programs and awards by utilizing game concepts to improve customer engagement and satisfaction.

Why Does Gamification in Hospitality Matter?

The hospitality industry is perfect for this concept. The most significant benefit for service-based businesses (like those in the hospitality industry) is that they build customer loyalty. By gamifying a core component of your business, you incentivize your customers to stick with your company to possibly ‘win’ the game. (Campione, 2019)

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits:

  1. Enhanced Guest Engagement: By adding an element of play and enjoyment to the experience, gamification may increase guest engagement. Guests are more likely to recall and value their stay when they actively participate in enjoyable activities or challenges.

  2. Better Loyalty and Repeat Business: Hospitality companies may encourage repeat business from their visitors by providing incentives and prizes for involvement. A well-thought-out gamification system may foster a sense of accomplishment and loyalty in users, increasing the likelihood that they will make future reservations with the same business.

  3. Revenue Growth: Gamification has the potential to boost revenue, as well. For instance, visitors are more willing to spend money on services like eating, spa treatments or hotel reservations in order to accrue additional incentives when they receive points or awards for particular acts.

Examples in the Industry

Some of the best examples of this are found in hotel and airline loyalty programs. Both use gamification to encourage their clients' competitive spirit and make their brand more memorable overall.

An excellent example of gamification in the hospitality sector is the Hilton Honors app. Through the use of the app, visitors may purchase room service, use a mobile key and check-in, among other activities that earn points and incentives. These points may be redeemed by visitors for extra nights, hotel upgrades and other benefits. Additionally, before checking in, customers may use the app's "Choose Your Room" function to select their room from a digital floor plan. This feature gives visitors a sense of empowerment and lets them actively participate in personalizing their stay.

Air Canada is another excellent example. As part of their "Earn Your Wings" campaign, they produced a scoreboard that displays the top flyers based on several indicators, such as total kilometers flown. The initiative got twice as many registrations as anticipated at the end of the promotional period, and the top prize was10 million frequent flyer points.

Some hotels like The Great Escape Lakeside in Florida are using gamification creatively, by transforming their space into exciting places for visitors to go on adventures. An interactive tablet is given to each guest upon check-in, signaling the start of a journey with a narrative that unfolds throughout the hotel. There are cleverly placed puzzles, riddles and clues throughout the site. To advance, tourists must decipher concealed messages and overcome obstacles. As visitors progress, they may unlock the hotel's hidden mysteries and improve their entire experience by earning rewards that range from complimentary snacks to unique luxuries. Some hotels even go over and above by providing themed rooms that correspond with the activity, giving visitors a more authentic experience. Gamers can opt to participate alone or in groups while using collaborative gaming, which promotes a competitive and sociable environment. Hotels frequently change quests and stories to keep guests engaged and provide recurring visitors with fresh experiences. Scavenger hunts and themed parties are examples of unique activities and challenges to make the experience more immersive. At the end of the journey, guests are given a symbol or certificate that serves as a special memento and strengthens their sense of achievement for completing the hotel's mission.

In conclusion, gamification has reshaped hospitality by incorporating entertaining game aspects into guest encounters. It improves visitor engagement, loyalty and revenue. Examples include the Hilton Honors program and inventive hotel quests, which transform regular stays into fascinating excursions. As the industry advances, companies that want to stay ahead must embrace gamification in order to build lasting connections and ensure happy guest returns.

This blog post was awarded Third Place in the Fall 2023 HFTP/MS Global Hospitality Business Graduate Student Blog Competition presented by the HFTP Foundation. Participants are students participating in the Master of Science in Global Hospitality Business, a partnership between the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership at the University of Houston, the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and EHL. The blog posts that received the top scores will be published on HFTP Connect. Learn more at HFTP News.

About the Author

Vlad-Iosif Benga is a graduate student of the Master in Global Hospitality Business, a partnership between three world-leading hospitality schools around the globe: EHL, The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, and the Conrad N. Hilton College at the University of Houston. He has four years of experience working in hotel operations in several departments and one year working as a marketing specialist.

Reference List

2023 Fall competition education EHL global hospitality business HFTP Hong Kong Polytechnic University hospitality student third place University of Houston gamification rewards guest experience entertainment loyalty hotels engagement