What One Hospitality Junkie Learned from Playing My Marriott Hotel for 36 Hours Straight

by Susan on December 22, 2011

If you haven’t seen it yet, Marriott rolled out an impressive new Facebook game on June 7 called My Marriott Hotel. Billed as a Farmville-style game, players open and run a hotel kitchen, hiring staff, purchasing equipment, and getting angry looks from the General Manager. From the looks of it, the company is developing five other areas of the hotel for gaming.

Yes, this is Marriott. I was as surprised as you are! I usually expect one of the hipper companies to come out with this stuff first, so when I read about it on HotelChatter I rushed right over to Facebook to check it out. Boy, was I impressed! The graphics are great, and game play is pretty intuitive. There are some things I wish were easier, like placing associates behind their stoves in the kitchen.

I’m not a regular gamer (see: Personality, Addictive), so I won’t pretend to offer a comprehensive review from that perspective, but I will say one thing – I can’t stop playing this game.

I also dreamed about it.

When you start, you have one chef, one stove, and ingredients to make a few dishes. You prepare and serve food in order to earn money and status, which you can in turn use to purchase more ingredients, additional staff, and extra equipment. There’s also a GM who pops up in the corner to offer praise or, in my case, coaching – as in, “Um, hello, you’re cooking way too slow!”

OK, my GM didn’t say exactly that, but his frowns were enough to stress me out. When the tickets come rolling in, and diners start sending food back, you really start to feel it in your upper back and nervous tummy. Or maybe that’s just me.

I was yelling at the screen and massaging my cramping fingers well into the night, and I tossed and turned with anxiety about getting those tickets out. Actual quotes:

“Diego, I know you can cook faster than that.”
“Oh who cares if it’s only a 3 star dish – look at those tickets!”
“It’s a Caesar Salad, Thomas, not an art project.”

Ahem. For a hospitality junkie, this kind of fix is second-only to actually getting triple-sat during the dinner rush, something I hope to never, ever repeat. But I will definitely repeat playing My Marriott Hotel; after all, I only made it to Level 4.

My Top Five Lessons from My Marriott Hotel

  1. Piling too much work on at once causes everything to suffer. My best chef, Anya, was able to put our food at almost triple the rate of speed as everyone else in my kitchen. As a result, when tickets got backed up, I loaded her up. What happened? Anya started producing lower quality food, which got sent back. I probably should have spent the money to hire someone else.
  2. At a certain point, all the training in the world can’t help a slowpoke. I had to fire one of my chefs, Sarah, because she was just too dang slow, even after two rounds of training (which costs a pretty penny, I might add). Know when to cut your losses and move on.
  3. Good equipment matters. When I upgraded the stoves in my kitchen – not a cheap endeavor – my chefs were able to produce higher quality food more quickly. The lesson here is that an upgrade, even when your current equipment is working fine, can make a major difference.
  4. It’s sometimes a good idea to ignore your boss. When I first started playing, my GM suggested that a six-star dish (on a scale of 10) might not be high enough quality to serve. However, each time it was recooked, it lost stars. Had I disregarded that advice and concentrated on getting more food out faster, I would have earned enough money to buy higher quality ingredients the next time around.
  5. You never know where innovation will come from. As I mentioned, I was surprised to see Marriott making such a bold move, since they are typically more conservative. In fact, a PBS special I watched about Bill Marriott mentioned that his philosophy was to let others go first and then come behind them and do it better. In this case, at least as far as I know, Marriott went first, and they did it brilliantly. I won’t discount a more conservative culture’s ability to be creative as quickly again.

This article originally appeared on HotelChatter.com on June 14, 2011 as “What One Hospitality Junkie Learned from Playing My Marriott Hotel for 36 Hours Straight.”  It was picked up by USAToday, NewYorkerChic, and HospitalityNet, among others.


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