Marriott launches recruiting game for Facebook

BETHESDA, MARYLAND Marriott International hopes a new game available for free to Facebook users could convince a new wave of young people to give the hotel industry a try in real life.

The newly launched game, called “My Marriott Hotel,” challenges players to operate departments within a virtual hotel, meeting budgetary restrictions while ensuring that supply and staffing requirements are being met and that operations are running smoothly.

Think of it as “Farmville” for the lodging industry.

But whereas “Farmville” is merely intended as a semi-addictive online pastime, “My Marriott Hotel” is aimed at potential job-seekers. “They’ll find that in fact this is a very intriguing business,” David Rodriguez, executive vice president for global human resources at Marriott, tells The Wall Street Journal. The game will demystify” the hotel profession, he says.

Marriott has declined to offer details on the cost of developing the game, which was created by Evviva Brands LLC in conjunction with Marriott.

The game’s designers want “My Marriott Hotel” to be as realistic as is virtually possible. “That’s why our game is so appealing,” says Susan Strayer, a Marriott human-resources branding expert who helped develop the game. “Not only am I having fun but I’m actually getting an understanding of what it takes to run a kitchen.”

To date, only the F&B department is available for play, but five more departments are listed as coming soon, and a mobile version is in development.

Game play, while simple to execute, is a relatively complex practice in time and money management. In the F&B simulation, players must buy food ingredients from a list of options that vary by quality and price. Similar decisions must be made on staffing, such as how many employees to hire and whether to hire experienced people at higher salaries or go with a greater number of workers who have less talent. Operationally, players direct food orders and inspect finished dishes for quality.

Marriott is not the first major hotel company to turn to video games for business purposes. In 2008, Hilton Worldwide’s Hilton Garden Inn brand launched an employee training game called “Ultimate Team Play,” which simulates real-life guest service scenarios. In the interactive game, players are presented with a series of tasks that must be prioritized and executed, with guest service scores fluctuating depending on the player’s decision-making.