What is hospitality? – A board game and simulation

Do you deal with people in your work? Then good social skills are a blessing. Especially if those people are also your customers and buy a garment or (slightly larger) a trip from you. To serve your customers well and give them a pleasant ‘buying experience’, you use hospitality.

Hospitality is making your customer feel welcome and heard. And that includes that annoying customer. I regularly came across the following quote when I searched online for more information on the subject.

Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were.

Some people are naturally hospitable. For anyone who is not or would like to practice some more, I have the following two game tips:

Boardgame Tour Operator

Number of players: 2-4 persons
Time: 45 – 75 minutes

In this game, each player manages a travel agency, arranging air travel, booking hotels and arranging on-site excursions. That’s quite a lot! With that, as far as I am concerned, the game shows well that a bit of hospitality is quite intensive.

Each round, players go through six stages:

  1. tourists sitting in the hotel check out (in the first round you skip this stage)
  2. new tourists enter your travel agency; each tourist with her own wishes and her own mood…
  3. as a manager and tour operator, you now dice up your resources and staff
  4. tourists from your travel agency get on a plane
  5. tourists check into your hotel
  6. tourists on location go on excursions and waiting tourists in your travel agency get impatient.

Each player has two player boards in front of them: one showing the travel agency and plane, and one showing the hotel rooms.

In the centre of the table is a square of a number of cards with destinations. How big this square is depends on the number of players (2 players: 4 x 4, 4 players: 5 x 5). There is also a scoreboard. So you do need some table space for Tour Operator.

Clean – cleaner – cleanest!

Every round, new tourists enter your travel agency. Every tourist has his or her requirements: one only wants to travel business class, another is a bit impatient, but best to sleep in the cheaper bunk bed. Yet another stays not 2, but 3 weeks and insists on a VIP room.

You try to help all tourists the best you can, but get minus points if you cannot meet the specific requirements. Well, sometimes that’s just the way it is. Handing out a coupon can save you from losing a customer and keeping them on the line for a while longer. What should always happen in any case: clean airline seats and clean hotel rooms.

You roll the cleaning tokens together in step 3. You can also collect personnel there. Personnel can be found on playing cards of which you may take 3 and keep 1.

Although I don’t work in hospitality myself, this game gave me a good idea of the hustle and bustle. Actually, you have to be everywhere at once, because everyone wants something from you. Sometimes that doesn’t work out and you have to make choices. So too in this game.

Sometimes you don’t have enough chips to clean the plane seats. Do you then let guests travel on a dirty seat (which is 1 minus) or do you put fewer passengers on the plane? For example, I once flew with 1 tourist. Although there are no consequences for your points there, in terms of environment and so on, it still doesn’t feel quite okay.

At the end of the round, your customers’ mood tokens go down a notch. Customers who came in patiently become impatient, and customers who were already somewhat impatient leave. A customer who leaves your travel agency dissatisfied will earn you minus points. You can prevent that from happening by giving them a coupon. Did I mention that you have to make sure you have enough coupons during the game? 😅

Simulation The Hospitality Game

You can consider yourself very hospitable, but in the end, what matters is whether the customer thinks so too. Although you have patient and impatient customers in Tour Operator, you can’t do more than disappoint them or give them a coupon. If you really want to practice how customers react to your behaviour, I recommend The Hospitality Game.

The Hospitality game s an online game from Virtual Skillslab. You download the game and need a keyboard, mouse and headphones to play it.

On the website, you create an account for a free demo version. In this version, you work in a shop for sports and outdoor articles. First, you get a tutorial where you learn how to move through the shop and how to have conversations with customers.

Your starting place is the staff room and as soon as you walk through the door into the shop, you get your first assignment. In the practice game, I had to be as friendly as possible to customers. When addressing a customer, you get about five bars with possible phrases you can say. For example, I could choose between hi and goodafternoon sir. Well, which do you choose?

n the practice game, I addressed two customers. Then a bell sounded and I was allowed back to the staff room. In the staff room, there is a big screen on which customers rate you. I myself thought I might have been a bit pushy, but fortunately my customers were satisfied. And even though it was only a virtual demo, I was still proud of it.

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