It’s not often companies can claim that its workforce actually looked forward to training days.
But when Universal opened its new Aventura hotel in mid-August, it did so with a staff that had been trained using video game-based concepts, including a point system, levels and other incentives.
Gamification has long been used to encourage consumers to buy — think Starbucks mobile app rewards. Now, it’s being applied to teaching people about how to do their jobs.
The point is to train employees to be focused on the needs of the customer.
“The service experience is so critical” in the hotel industry, said Sam Caucci, CEO of New Jersey-based 1HUDDLE, which developed the platform used by Aventura. “Properties struggle … to deliver a consistently exceptional guest experience.”
Aventura Universal Standards, Outlets and Services and Aventura Hotel were two platforms built by 1HUDDLE to help train the property’s workforce.
The programs include a multiple-choice quiz disguised as a game to train team members about guest services, property facts and other information.
At Aventura, program leaders launched a new game every Sunday, creating new leaderboards each week that would motivate employees to learn their policies.
“I hate to say it, but no one likes compliance training,” said Lauren Constable, vice president of operations for Loews Hotels & Co. “Although wildly important, people tend to zone out when they learn they need to participate in their yearly (training).”
The platform changed that, however, and officials are now looking to expand the types of training that incorporate gamification.
“All of a sudden, people are playing the game multiple times a day to rack up points in attempt to see their name at the top of the leaderboard,” she said. “This has worked so well, that we are also exploring some more sensitive topics such as diversity.”
That kind of approach can create a culture in which employees actively seek out information that can help them do their jobs better, some experts say.
“It becomes enjoyable,” said Peter Smith, a game design professor at the University of Central Florida. “Learning can be deeper with gamification because a trainee actually wants to train.
“Games are a powerful motivator for learning,” Smith said. “Game mechanics, like rules, goals and, especially, reward structures help motivate learners to want to do the training.”
Gamification is often seen as a way to encourage customers to buy or continue to shop at specific stores.
For years, airlines have awarded frequent fliers with points that can be exchanged for flights or other amenities. Starbucks and other companies reward customers for coming back to the store.
As users accomplish specific goals, they receive rewards, whether it’s earning points in a virtual competition or gift cards.
In education, some have started to use gamification, too.
“Gamification has been used for a while in education and similar aspects can be applied towards corporate training,” said Josh Murdock, an education tech expert who has been teaching edtech at Valencia College more than 14 years. “It helps provide feedback to learners that they have completed the work necessary to pass to the next level. It helps learners visually and conceptually see the goal they want to attain.”
1HUDDLE has built game-based training platforms for bars, restaurants, auto parts stores and NFL teams.
The objectives have included figuring out everything from types of tequilas or letting salespeople learn talking points around the Super Bowl when speaking with customers.
The growth of tech use among younger people has created a path for companies like 1HUDDLE to build a following.
“As more millennials join the hospitality industry, it’s imperative that we use technology to help prepare them to work,” Caucci said. “This can encourage employees to do the right thing more often, create a better community and empower employees to take control of their own performance.”
(Article written by Marco Santana)