Are your organisation and travellers ready for gamification? Are you prepared to go to these lengths to influence traveller behaviour? Joel Wartgow explains the pros and cons
Gamification is the use of game elements, such as point scoring and competition with others, in non-game environments to encourage engagement with a product or service. It’s a way to engage buyers and influence traveller choices, and has become a buzzword in business travel, says CWT Solutions Group’s Joel Wartgow. Read on for the steps to consider before you introduce such a solution to your travel programme
STEP 1: Look at your workforce. A gamification programme won’t work for everyone, and it's an initiative that works best when it’s designed to engage travellers and drive specific behaviour changes. A gamification programme is most effective when participants want to play; it will not work if they are forced into it.
This is particularly effective in companies with a young workforce, a large proportion of road warriors, or a nonmandated travel policy. Those companies with a traveller-centric programme may also benefit from gamification, as it rewards positive employee behaviour.
Power is increasingly in the hands of the traveller, and their decisions and buying habits are based on supplier loyalty, perceived savings, and their own experiences.
By refocusing these deciding factors through an engaging channel, travel managers can harness and centralise this power rather than combating it.
STEP 2: Identify the behaviours you want to change. As programmes mature, fewer savings are available in most well-managed travel programmes. The greatest opportunities are achieved through improved buying behaviour, such as advanced purchase, preferred supplier usage, or booking online. You can decide how many points each of these choices is worth, providing positive reinforcement for desired behaviour. This is particularly important in non-mandated travel programmes.
STEP 3: You'll need an integrated platform that can track and recognise the users of the tool. Work with your TMC to implement a gaming environment that directly engages travellers and delivers a reward scheme that influences buying behaviour.
STEP 4: Get buy-in across the workforce, from senior management downwards. Travellers have to want to play, otherwise the tool will not be as successful as you would like. Show management how it will become the ultimate touch point for interaction and awareness of the company travel policy and, for users, make it fun!
When travellers make policy-friendly decisions, they’ll be recognised in a variety of ways which may include point accruals or acknowledgement on leaderboards. They will also have the ability to track their individual performance against their peers, division, or company as a whole.
Be clear that gamification is not necessarily designed to reward ‘expected’ behaviour, but to encourage better behaviour. It can be effective when companies looking to shift volume between preferred suppliers.
STEP 5: Think about using a strategic consultancy for added analysis. This ensures that your new tool aligns with company strategy; that it addresses and influences the right behaviours, and that it uses the best reward scheme for each traveller type.
A consultancy can help identify programme objectives, baseline performance levels, who should play, how to initially engage 'players' and how to keep them engaged, how to weight the different gaming tactics, tracking and helping to refine the programme.
Make sure you ask for quarterly updates, to spot the patterns and trends, and further opportunities that should be investigated.
And finally, don’t forget that once your gaming tool has been implemented and people are using it, make sure you run regular reports and communicate leaderboards to managers and 'players'. This will encourage those who already use the tool to continue, and may even pique the interest of those who have yet to use it.