It might seem difficult to imagine a connection between computer games and the business travel industry, but ‘gamification’ is rapidly becoming a buzz word, and was the subject of a recent discussion in the Buying Business Travel group on LinkedIn.
In fact, you’re probably already familiar with gamification in some form: most rewards systems use a gaming concept to encourage customer loyalty and monitor spending habits. In BA’s tiered loyalty programme, for example, members progress through various levels to become a gold member. But this idea can also be used by travel management companies and HR departments to encourage users to stay within policy guidelines.
Within organisations, monetary reward systems or points systems offering discounts and other benefits can be used like a loyalty programme, offering an incentive for travellers to come in under budget or use preferred accommodation providers. The problem with this approach is that travellers can become dependent on financial rewards. Critics also argue that incentivising travellers who already abide by the rules is a waste of money.
The alternative is to rank travellers on a leaderboard according to the points they’ve earned but offer no monetary awards or other benefits. This is where gamification really comes into its own, using employees’ enjoyment of competition, and yearning to increase status and rank, to encourage co-operation. However, the success of this method depends on the environment of the company using it and the personalities of employees.
Rather than imposing fines on those who flout the rules, gamification takes a more positive approach, rewarding users for behaviour that benefits the company. However, it is still a new concept that many organisations will be reluctant to adapt until they can be more confident of its success.