Beyond Resumes: Marriott Using Gamification to Recruit Top Talent in Hospitality

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Social media were communication tools that allowed people to create, share, or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. Many companies had started using mobile and web-based technologies to create interactive programs through which individuals and communities could share, create, and modify the content. In business, social media was used to market products, promote brands, and connect to current customers and start new businesses. Marriott had chosen social media as its medium to serve the customers efficiently. Since the service involved convenience and saving of time, Marriott came up with many applications through social media and gaming.

Human Resource and Organization Behavior Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies
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Its association with social media generated a huge response from its followers. Marriott's Facebook page had 1,874,121 likes and 4,041,532 visits while its Twitter account was followed by 171,842 people as on March 2015. Its major move into gamification came when it introduced a game on Facebook in 2011 for recruiting people...


In its efforts to make vacations better Marriott introduced the Perfect Travel Companion app in August 2011, with useful features such as mobile check-in, real-time room ready alerts, and mobile checkout (Refer to Exhibit IV for images from the app). It allowed the customers to make reservations at 3, 600 hotels and resorts in 71 countries, 24/7, from anywhere, enrol in Marriott rewards, browse hotel photos, maps, city guides, and amenities, or call a hotel...


Marriott rolled out the free Red Coat Direct app in August 2012to cater to the needs of guests on site. It sent a personalized version of the app to planners three days before their meetings (Refer to Exhibit V for images from the app). They could use it to edit their meeting requests and preferences just before the event or while on site. For example, they could request an adjustment in room temperature or a change in meal time or specify the ingredients of a coffee. The app remained available for several months after the meeting, so planners could also use it to reconcile their bills...


Workspace on Demand, powered by Liquidspace, an application to book meetings on demand, was another app by Marriott, released in January 2013. This app allowed guests to book both free and paid spaces like booking a guest room (Refer to Exhibit VI for images from the app). Marriott allowed booking of work space through this app and provided amenities like guaranteed space with Wi-Fi and power, access to printers and food/beverage, and booking by the hour or by the day. It offered both free and paid reserved spaces. "The trends are telling. The way people work is changing. And we're right there with them...


The Xplor game, which was released in August 2013, allowed travellers to virtually visit cities and win rewards (Refer to Exhibit VII for images from the game). Stephanie Linnartz, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, Marriott International, said, "We see guests effortlessly blending work and play in a global, mobile world, they embrace technology as a central part of their lifestyle" . Xplor was targeted at travellers in the age group of 18-46 years, who spend more money on travelling. It could be downloaded from the Apple store. In the game, the players roamed through five gateway cities –New York, Paris, Dubai, São Paulo, and Beijing. They had to complete the sightseeing challenges, solve puzzles, and answer questions about different facts related to the sites they visited...


Recruitment referred to the process of attracting, selecting, and appointing the right candidate for the right job in the organization. According to Dale Yoder, "Recruitment is a process to discover the sources of manpower to meet the requirements of the staffing schedule and to employ effective measures for attracting that manpower in adequate numbers to facilitate effective selection of an efficient working force." It started when new employees were needed because either an existing one had left the organization or some new work had to be accomplished. It ended when the new employees joined the organization, thereby fulfilling the manpower requirements...


Worldwide, online games had surpassed personal e-mail to become the second most popular activity on the web, accounting for 10 percent of the time spent online. Social networking sites such as Facebook, which had more than 500 million active users by mid-2011, accounted for more than 25 percent of the time spent online. Marriott had set up one of the best Facebook recruitment pages, which by mid-2011, had 50, 000 people interacting with the page every week...


With the objective of recruitment, Marriott decided to try something new other than the traditional recruiting practices like sourcing through internal and external avenues. While exploring new methods of recruitment, Marriott engaged professional consultants to formulate strategies which would connect them with employees in Indian and Chinese markets. In Marriott's opinion, these markets were struggling with a lack of talent in hospitality and the institutions which provided training in hospitality in these countries were not very professional. Susan Strayer (Strayer), Senior Director, Global Employer Brand and Marketing for Marriott International, said, "We really have a responsibility to pay attention to the markets in which we are growing." This led to creation of the game to attract the attention of job seekers in growing markets like India and China...


The game was offered in five languages, namely, English, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Mandarin. Players earned points for happy customers but lost points for poor service. They were also rewarded when their operation turned a profit. Marriott planned to add other hotel departments to later versions of the game, and a mobile phone version was also scheduled for launch in 2012. The initial version included a game which depicted a Marriott kitchen. Players had to handle all the responsibilities of a hotel manager. The players bought ingredients after choosing the best quality and price. They also hired staff based upon their experience and salaries from the options displayed. Then they bought stoves and kitchen utensils. They had to pass the customers' orders to the cooks and inspect food for quality before delivering it to the customers. The happier the guests, the higher the points. If the players got the stipulated score, they could click on the tab "Do it for real"...


The game received good response from the job seekers initially. It managed to attract more than 25, 000 players in the very first week. It crossed 100, 000 page views with most of the users being from the US, Egypt, and India . The game, which was officially launched on June 6, 2011, had players from 58 countries within the first 48 hours, including Germany, Hungary, Malaysia, and South Africa. That number had grown to 99 countries in the game's third week. Jennifer Benz, president of San Francisco-based Benz Communications, said, "I think it's unique to have an organization the size of Marriott to invest in something as dynamic as their own social media game. Within the next couple of years more companies will realize social media is not an option. They have to be engaging. They will realize that there are tremendous rewards and benefits..."


Marriott was faced with the challenge of making the game more interesting or developing a real talent hunt app which could justify its recruitment needs and help it get the best candidates who could prosper in its hospitality services. Either it could leave out the idea of recruiting through gamification in view of past experience or it could go in for new ventures in the gamification of recruitment. But it had the choice of opting for the better method...


Exhibit I:Images from My Marriott Hotel game

Exhibit II:Marriott's Distribution of Rooms Worldwide

Exhibit III:Key Financials of Marriott

Exhibit IV:Images from the Perfect Travel Companion App

Exhibit V:Images from Red Coat Direct App

Exhibit VI:An Image from Workspace on Demand App

Exhibit VII:Images from the Xplor Game