Since Gamification’s humble beginnings, it has always lent itself towards the Hospitality industry, albeit the early days were full of trial & error. Still, the use of game elements to help make promotions, loyalty programs and staff training more engaging has always been quite effective. With Gamification coming into it’s own in more recent years, the Hospitality industry has rekindled it’s relationship with Gamification through a new breed of well-structured games to boost their customers’ spend per visit, increase market share and motivate their staff.
Gamification first became popular a few years back, when a number of hospitality companies experimented with the concept. Unfortunately, most of these early attempts at gamification were pretty clumsy and often had glaring issues that simply weren’t accounted for.
While these early initiatives borrowed certain elements from video games, they usually shared a major flaw: They weren’t fun to play. In fact many were actually annoying the customer base. In hindsight, it’s no surprise that most of these initial efforts fell short of expectations. Other times, brands came up with genuinely fun experiences, but they didn’t properly account for external factors, such as cheating. That’s right, cheating was a large issue for a lot of early gamification initiatives, as early digital builds left gaps for people to manipulate their engagement and reap all the rewards.
Since these early cases, Gamification has had enough time on the ground for marketers and companies to grasp a better understanding of what Gamification is capable of achieving and the most efficient ways of utilising it. Not only does gamification open a world of possibilities for making the industry more profitable and productive, it makes the guest and employee experience more fun. By focusing on the brand new metric of “enjoyability,” hospitality companies are tapping into a rich new source of data, differentiating their brand in a crowded field, and driving extraordinary results.
KFC Japan partnered with Gamify in order to create a marketing campaign that not only informed customers but also incentivised them to try KFC's new Shrimp products through discounted voucher rewards. The campaign concept was a Fruit Ninja style game, with the story of Ebi shrimp taking over the chicken dominated world of KFC, and it was up to the player to defend the KFC castle.
The results were enormous, with 195,628 unique players, KFC Japan definitely created some noise around their new product, and in turn, generated an overwhelming amount of sales. The game campaign was so successful that it led to the new product line struggling to keep up with the influx of customers and eventually sold out. KFC, in the end, had to cut the campaign time in half in the hopes of stabilising KFC Japan’s supply and demand. 22% of people who played the game, redeemed their rewarded voucher within a store. The store sales figure increased 106% compared to the previous year.
Gamification makes boring, repetitive, or unpleasant experiences fun and engaging. By making an experience more enjoyable, we can see huge lifts in both revenue and satisfaction (who would of thought). So what ways can we apply Gamification to Hospitality and how will it enhance overall experience?
Ordering App Rewards
A lot of Cafes have adapted with both technology and their customer flow to bring out apps that allow for customers to order their food and drink in advance to even walking into a store, in an effort to skip the line and save time.
With examples like Starbucks, throwing out the stamp card in place of an app equivalent that tracks a user’s collection of “Stars” (Points) in the lead up to their next free drink. This form of Gamification is nothing new, as mentioned before, the stamp card has been around in Hospitality long before apps took centre stage. The bottomline is, this simple game mechanic with incentives attached is very effective in garnering the attention and sales of a company’s customers.
Another alternative to gamification in an ordering app can be found in earned rewards. This goes beyond the simplified stamp card, loyalty system. Certain cafes have wanted to drive more business engagement and positive association through branded mini-games.
When a business has a mini-game in place that offers customers the opportunity to earn a discounted rate on their next purchase, a free product or a major prize through a competition, the reward redemption rate is much higher than a generic handout. In fact Gamify’s independent studies have shown that rewards are redeemed 7 times greater through a competitive stream, than that of a coupon offer or discount code handout.
The hospitality industry can be extremely competitive with its mass saturation of options. Direct competitors are often clustered together, and online their offerings can look quite similar. Too often, properties are forced to compete on price, which is a race to the bottom. Cafes, restaurants and franchises are constantly looking for better ways to increase their market while still staying true to the spirit of their brand, and many are turning to games.
The possibility of winning an achievable reward draws people in, and the guaranteed prize keeps them engaged and satisfied. And the game itself is a great way to create a positive first experience with the brand.
Social Media Engagement
Social Media has become an increasingly powerful way to promote any and all brands. To have a social context in which a brand can connect with its customers in a more low-key environment is currently one of the strongest fronts for marketing.
There have been several different approaches to social media that brands have taken, in order to connect with their audience, some have been quite successful while others have ruined their brand image. One of the easiest ways to engage with your audience with trackable results is to promote a competition through your brand’s social channels.
There has been a recent resurgence in social media competitions as they seem to be mutually beneficial for both the brand and it’s audience. The key is to strike that balance, previous social initiatives have had brands ask too much of their audience and as a result failed to launch. If one party is going to feel the toll of a social competition more than the other, it must be the brand. There is a lot more to be gained from being generous rather than tight-fisted when it comes to rewarding participants for their efforts.
The beauty of Gamify’s software being structured around HTML5 means our games can be easily shared across your various social media channels with simple links and embedded play buttons. Social Media channels are the best environments to cultivate a competitive and social buzz around your campaign and brand, having the ability to engage directly with your audience, responding to any questions or posts directed at the brand, promoting game challenges and rewards, along with praising the successful leaderboard entrants and finally crowning a winner at the end of the campaign.
Consumers today want to do business with brands that they know and trust. When a consumer is able to engage with a company and other users through a game, this registers with the social drive within most consumers and in turn create a positive community outlook towards the brand.
Human-focused design elements in Gamification campaigns such as providing the option for social media shares, in turn creates a space for the best form of advertisement; a happy customer who shares their experience with others. If your game is interesting, fun, and engaging then it can be highly expected that it will help generate repeat customers and organic social shares.
When it comes to building atmosphere, some stores just want to have people present (think about how much more enticing a place looks when people are inside as opposed to an empty store). That is why certain chains and independent cafes/restaurants have adopted in-store competition as a means of keeping butts in seats.
With prizes like discounted future visits or freebies. These games can be played on customer phones or in-store mounted tablets/kiosks positioned in line. Having in-store leaderboards seems to only further stimulate the competition amongst customers. These games are an immediate way to incorporate a social element to a customer’s visit to a store location, and improve that all-important first impression of the property.
In-store gamification is also a more effective way to distribute coupons to customers that they’re more likely to redeem (ever noticed how many handouts go into the nearest bin?).
If I were to ask you, how many emails you receive in a day that have a big, bright and colourful title regarding a discount that you can redeem with a code below, the number would be decent right? How many of those emails did you bother to read on about, or even more so, how many did you take up on their offer? Probably not many, if any.
Now, if you received an email that invited you to play a game in order to reveal your reward, be honest, would you be more interested in following through on that email?
This is one of the biggest updates to a lot of franchise-based email newsletters. These emails containing game links have helped increased email opens, revive fringe customer interest and bring in new lead information.
Employee Onboarding, Training and Assessment
Hospitality companies have incorporated games into all aspects of the employee experience: from recruitment and professional development to incentivised performance. Everything from the onboarding process, to checking off individual and team responsibilities, to learning the table layout of an establishment, can all be turned into a game. Gamification makes the workplace experience more enjoyable for everyone.
It’s not just more fun – it’s actually more effective. People who learn through games are more likely to retain information and remember an experience more positively than when non-gamified teaching methods are used. A report from the 2006 Summit on Educational Games by the Federation of American Scientists found that learners recall just 10% of what they read and 20% of what they hear – but remember 90% “if they do the job themselves, even if only as a simulation.” The use of game-like simulations and other gamified elearning techniques are becoming standard practice across many different industries, used by companies as varied as IBM, Xerox and Deloitte.
These enjoyable experiences not only create more productive employees, they lead to happier customers. Using the powers of psychology and gaming to make work more fun can be crucial to recruiting and retaining a 21st century workforce motivated by more than money.
Enjoyability is now a vital KPI for any hospitality company. It’s what sets apart the ordinary from the unforgettable. With this new focus on enjoyability, hospitality companies are uncovering new sets of data that most industries haven’t thought to analyse yet, they’re finding new approaches to differentiate their properties in a crowded field, and they’re discovering new ways to surprise and delight guests.