Using Mobile Gamification to Enhance Hotel Training

NEWARK, NJ—It’s necessary and mandatory, but training employees doesn’t have to be boring. Hoteliers can employ mobile technology and increase job performance using gamification and a little bit of spirited competition, making it fun and memorable.

“1Huddle was launched in 2015 and has grown from a one-day workshop to a training platform that is changing the way companies train employees,” said Sam Caucci, founder/CEO, 1Huddle, based here. “Through the use of science-backed, quick-burst mobile games, 1Huddle onboards new hires faster, upskills employees better and puts people in position to tackle any challenge they face. 1Huddle works with a variety of clients from sports to auto, cities (City of Newark), financial services and franchises. Loews Hotels & Co. is the company’s first hotel client, and 1Huddle is excited to expand further in this vertical.”

Gamification—the act of integrating game mechanics to motivate participation, engagement and loyalty—is a buzzword. Anything can be learned through a game.

Screenshot of 1Huddle platform
Screenshot of 1Huddle platform

“Today, the average millennial will spend more than 10,000 hours on a gaming platform before turning 21. Outdated learning software, manuals and live training sessions aren’t working anymore. Gamification is proven to accelerate productivity and companies can use it to upskill, onboard and train their employees quicker and more efficiently. We use tools like points, badges, leaderboards and competition to drive participation and, thereby, better results,” said Caucci. “It’s crazy to think that less than 1% of training today is conducted on a mobile phone when almost 100% of millennials will touch their mobile device within 15 minutes of waking up. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, employees are more likely to own a smartphone than a laptop, so why aren’t more companies adapting to mobile gameplay? We all have three-minute intervals during our day where we’re checking texts, social media, etc. Instead of wasting time, employees can use these small gaps to train outside of work hours, and that’s exactly what they are doing.”

According to Caucci, 75% of participation within the first 30 days of 1Huddle’s partnership with Loews was voluntary. He found that using tools like gamification provides a more efficient avenue for companies to transform the materials they have in place—manuals, tests, videos—into a platform that is engaging and fun.

“We’re able to have companies up and running much quicker than a standard training platform. It typically takes 108 hours to build an online learning course versus 10 minutes to build a game with 1Huddle,” he said.

For hotels looking to adopt new technology to improve the guest experience, 1Huddle could be the solution to better train employees, ensuring guests have the best stay possible.

Using 1Huddle’s partnership with Loews as an example, Caucci explained how gamification can help people to learn: “To date, Loews employees have played 70,000 games, which equates to 1,000 hours of training time. That additional 1,000 hours is on top of the training methods they already had in place. Repetition helps increase retention and we use gamification as the tool to encourage repetition,” he said. “Gamification creates an environment for employees to train willingly with a mobile device both at work and on their own time. It’s easy, fast and efficient. As mentioned, we also use rewards—points, badges, leaderboards, etc.—to help increase the spirit of competition.”

Caucci sees Loews as a success story in terms of employee training.

“1Huddle’s human resources system games with Loews have already created more than a 44% increase in retention,” he said. “In addition, Loews’ history games have produced more than a 40% increase in retention, and the safety and security games have led to more than a 36% increase in retention. 1Huddle was able to take Loews’ materials in place and convert them to games that can be played on a mobile device. Loews’ employees have played 70,000 1Huddle games and trained voluntarily 75% of the time.”

Screenshot of 1Huddle platform
Screenshot of 1Huddle’s platform

1Huddle is building on this momentum, helping to launch the new Aventura Hotel at Universal Orlando. The gaming platform for Aventura employees is training new team members on the hotel’s policies and procedures, guest-service standards, guest programming and property facts. 1Huddle expects to expand its partnership with Loews.

For hotels seeking to gauge return on investment for a gamification solution like 1Huddle, Caucci shares the following benefits to consider:

  • An increase in sales (faster closing, higher closing percentage, bigger deal sizes, more deals)
  • An increase in employee retention (retaining employees, less employee turnover)
  • Improved service (better service reviews on sites such as Yelp: more five-star reviews, less one-star reviews)

“1Huddle can be up and running with a client in days, not months. In fact, the company had Loews on board in less than 20 days, which allowed for a quick and efficient transfer,” he said. “Whether in guest services or sales, employees are bombarded with information and guest interactions on a daily basis. Trying to cram all of that needed information into a few standard training sessions is proven to be difficult and costly. As mentioned, more millennials are joining hospitality. These workers are uniquely suited to work in travel, so it’s becoming increasingly important that hotels adapt to this cultural shift. Gamification is one way to do that.”