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Gaming expert Jesse Schell has predicted a pleasurable travelling future where everything comes with points.
During a keynote presentation at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives' (ACTE) Global Education Conference, he introduced delegates to the concepts of gaming and how they can relate to the world of business travel.
“Real life and games are starting to connect with each other in surprising ways,” he said – for example Fantasy Football.
In particular, Schell suggested that loyalty programmes could be seen as an existing form of gaming – a point-collecting exercise involving actions and rewards.
“Thinking about frequent flyer miles, you have to get into the psychology of the business traveller. One of the things we know is that the business traveller is very status oriented,” he said.
Business travellers need to impress people, said Schell, as they are going to a conference, or to make a deal.
“Status is on their mind. So it's totally natural to have systems where there is a platinum level,” he said.
“And you get all these rewards. Is first class in the back of the plane? No. You get to board first, and you're at the front of the plane, so everyone has to walk by and see you sitting in your comfy chair and how important you look.”
Schell said the loyalty programme makes “perfect sense”, because the business travellers' mind is all on status and it is a status-oriented system.
Travel management, however, is more problematic in terms of making it pleasurable, or more like a game.
With corporate travel, the travellers are restricted in their choices and without autonomy it's difficult to create a game-like scenario.
“Can you make a system that delivers a sense of autonomy?” Schell questioned.
Pleasure is also an important factor to consider: “Pleasure is the motivation for everything we do,” he said.
“It's tremendously important... the key to design in the 21st century.”
Schell suggested there are opportunities for improving the traveller experience by making it more like a game: “There are so many opportunities to tap into what drives people.
“You have more opportunity than other industries to create some of these systems because you are tapping into things that are a richer, more dramatic, dynamic part of the human experience.”
Creating some sort of travel management game, although unlikely, might just be possible, according to Schell.
“You can make experiences better. Part of it comes from understanding all the new technologies that are coming out, because they make these things possible,” he said.
“But a bigger part of it comes from understanding the psychology. Ask yourself: Given what you know about your guests, why will they like the experience you've created?”