Are you a PlayStation pro or a Nintendo novice? From consoles to PCs to phones, gaming is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with estimates valuing the worldwide market at around $350 billion.  

Even if your gaming experience doesn’t go beyond Pac Man or Candy Crush, there are still plenty of valuable takeaways from this innovative industry. Let’s look at how gaming can inspire us to greater hospitality – no cheat codes required.  

Ready, player one? 

Table of contents

The power of customization 

In the early 80s, games began to incorporate a radical new feature: customization. At first it was very simple: players could change their character’s name. They soon became more sophisticated, with skills, personality, appearance and gender all customizable.  

The purpose was to immerse players in their worlds, to create stronger feelings of engagement and excitement. This is exactly what hoteliers should aim to achieve with their guests, and customization is the perfect way to do it. 

A generic hotel experience won’t leave a lasting impression. Just as someone playing The Sims can choose their character’s clothing or their hairstyle, a hotel guest should be able to choose whether their room has a bath or a shower, whether it’s on the ground floor or the top floor. As well as delivering more memorable stays, it’s also a big chance to boost revenue – read how harry’s home is already boosting their RevPAR this way

Loyalty and gamification 

There are over 700,000 mobile games available to download. A game has to grab someone’s attention from the beginning and then not let go, otherwise there are plenty more options to try. And games are not just battling for attention against other games; they’re also fighting social media and a whole host of other applications. That’s why so many mobile games use multiple points and reward systems – every success is a little serotonin hit, and it keeps us invested because we want to get to the next milestone. 

That's also why so many other apps have embraced gamification to keep users engaged – think Duolingo, fitness apps or even hotel brands like Accor with its Accor Live Limitless loyalty program. Loyalty programs, if implemented effectively, become much more than a marketing strategy. They can encourage ambassadorship and create communities among guests. 

Want to see how some of the biggest hotel brands approach loyalty programs? Here’s a handy rundown of the 10 best hotel loyalty programs and how to set up your own

Seamless monetization 

You may not be their biggest fan when you’re playing, but there’s no doubting the success of in-app purchases. These purchases account for almost half of mobile app earnings, compared to 14% from advertising revenue and 38% from paid app downloads. 98% of Google Play revenue comes from free-to-download apps. 

Hoteliers should take the same attitude. Even when a guest has already made their reservation, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to offer in-stay purchases. The obvious places to do this are during online check-in or at a check-in kiosk upon arrival.  

But there’s no need to stop there. Direct messages are a particularly effective way to reach guests with upsells and cross-sells. Early-bird F&B offers, last-minute spa or wellness bookings, special room service extras... And if you can tailor these extras to your guests’ preferences, you’ll boost your chances of making a sale. 

Needless to say, it should be seamless for guests to make these purchases, whether they happen in the moment of order or if they’re added to the guest’s bill. There are a few specialist solutions that can help you here – Oaky is a great place to start. 

Continual improvements 

In the modern era of gaming, a game isn’t finished when it’s released into the world. Anyone vaguely plugged into the online or console gaming will be familiar with ‘patches’ – modifications or additions to a game that fixes any bugs and updates certain features. 

Hoteliers should be regularly patching their operations and guest experience. Having hotel guest feedback strategies and tools in place is an important first step; reviews and direct feedback are invaluable inputs that will help you and your team make iterative improvements. It may only be small things like ‘I’d love a reminder of the hotel Wi-Fi password in my room’ but cumulative upgrades will make a big difference over time. 

Most successful games today also release additional content. New levels, new characters, new quests – the game designers listen to feedback and analyze the data on what the most popular elements of their game are (or what it’s lacking) and lean into that with updates. 

This same mindset can be used to diversify your revenue and introduce new services or experiences at your hotel. ‘I loved my stay, but I wish I could have booked a space to work as well.' If you’re getting this kind of feedback regularly, it might be time to offer bookable workspaces


Game over? It doesn’t have to be. The world of gaming isn’t the only place to uncover valuable lessons in hospitality. Here are some other areas that can inspire all of us to be more remarkable: