Gaming for talent

News on the US' unemployment rate remains relentlessly dreary with national ratio stuck stubbornly past the 9% mark. Nevertheless, there are pockets of paucity when it comes to talent, particulalry in the IT field as a survey from technology website dice.com notes. The report says that "competition for technology talent continues to escalate, despite a surge in hiring that has pushed the tech unemployment rate below 4 percent. 65 percent (of hiring managers) anticipate hiring more technology professionals in the second half of 2011 than the preceding six months."

The hospitality industry, both within the US and without, is seeing some robust hiring leading to some really innovative hiring practices that keep up with signals that are more likely to ping the antennae of Gen Y employees. A Wall Street Journal report notes that  Industry behemoth, Marriott , as is its wont, led the way by coming up with the idea of tapping the passion for video games in the millenial generation.

In a bet premised on the idea that a hotel-themed online game could be a recruiting tool for the hotel industry, Marriott launched a video game (unsuprisingly) named "My Marriott Hotel" where one aspect of it results in "orders stack(in) up at the restaurant. Meanwhile, the manager has to decide how many pieces of shrimp to buy for the shumai. The kitchen runs out of croutons for the Caesar salad and there's not enough money for a new stove."

Marriott's idea stemmed from a "wildly successful" (from a recruiting standpoint) game from nearly a decade ago introduced by the U.S. military called "America's Army". The WSJ article points out that the game is in its first iteration and includes only one game which depicts a Marriott kitchen. "The player buys ingredients, such as lettuce for the hamburgers and cheese for the spaghetti, after being given an array of options in quality and price. The player also hires staff, choosing from a range of experiences and salaries, and buys stoves and kitchen utensils. During rounds in the kitchen, players have to direct tickets to cooks and inspect food orders for quality before sending them out to customers." Marriott expects to feature other aspects of the hotel business before long bringing the (virtual) excitement of running hotels to the next generation.

In the virtual everything world this inarguably is the way to go but the template for hiring in the hotel industry in the pre-digital age were classics like Arthur Hailey's fiction book titled "Hotel". It was the story of a hotel called the St. Gregory situated in New Orleans (presumed to be the Waldorf-Astoria Roosevelt) with all dimensions of the hotel industry fluidly revealed. A five year long TV serial helped spread its draw to many millions more.

Others including (expectedly) in the IT industry have used games as a means of recruiting talent. Microsoft came up with a  way of attracting IT Security Personnel  called Ethical Hackers.  The company created a dummy database and set up a contest for hackers.  The prize was a cash reward for the hacker who was the quickest to hack into the database and find a specific piece of information.  Besides garnering a lot of attention for the tech giant it resulted in their hiring the winner of the contest.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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