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Travel buyers should exploit loyalty incentives in the way suppliers have been doing for many years, according to American Express vice president Alicia Tillman.
Tillman was hosting a panel session on how gamification can drive policy compliance, at the GBTA convention in San Diego.
She said loyalty programmes have been around for a long time, from the Green Stamp saving schemes starting in the 1930s to the airline frequent flyer programmes in the 1970s, followed closely by hotels, car rental firms and consumer product brands.
“In the last 10 years they have evolved, moving online,” she said. “And recently social media has exploded, changing the way we operate as an end-user.”
She cited research showing that the fastest growing demographic for Twitter is the 55-64 age range, growing by 79 per cent since 2012. Meanwhile Facebook's fastest-growing demographic is 45-54.
“Gamification takes advantage of these new social behaviours. It's a strategy to drive engagement, it gives the employee transparency of your programme’s goals, it rewards positive behaviour and offers incentives,” added Tillman.
Citrix travel buyer Steven Rahman talked about the challenges of recruiting ‘millenials’ - younger workers born since the 1980s. Together with ‘Generation Xers’, they will make up 70% of the population by 2020.
Rahman said: “Millenials are often accused of having a big sense of entitlement, but I don't think that's the case.
“It's more that the burden of proof is transferred, from the traveller to prove they're doing the right thing, on to me as manager – they expect me to prove to them why they should be doing something.”
Accenture's Elizabeth Langlois highlighted Gartner research showing 70 per cent of Forbes Global 2000 companies will have at least one gamified app by 2014.
“The statistics are compelling,” she said. “We've seen a huge spike in the uptake of business-to-consumer techniques being applied to company employees.”
Tillman suggested there was a great need for new and effective techniques because a global study polling more than 100,000 employees found that more than 70 per cent felt “disengaged” at work.
The panel agreed that “positive reinforcement” gaming techniques are effective in driving compliance and savings because they are aligned to the booking process. They can take place quickly and at the time of booking, so employees are more engaged than with a 40-page travel policy document which they don't tend to read.
Panellist Chandar Pattabhiram, vice president of gaming company Badgeville, said the most effective schemes are a hybrid of intrinsic rewards - competitive points, badges and leaderboards – and other more tangible benefits or benefits.
Langlois compared travel gaming schemes to the leaderboards used to motivate sales teams, which have been used for a long time.
“Sales people have this inner desire to compete and win, but we believe this desire really exists in many demographics of people today,” she said.