Gamification Comes of Age

For the last decade experts in the Travel industry have been telling us that gamification was the key to boosting policy and program compliance among travelers, yet no one could seem to come up with the “game” which had the secret sauce that could change employee behavior.

Like many business concepts, gamification is much older than the word that describes it. Definitions vary but what they all have in common is that a ‘gamified’ activity is one where elements from game design are used to make ordinary non-game activities more interesting.

“Travel is a natural fit for gamification,” Badgeville’s Kris Duggan told the Eye for Travel blog in 2013, “as the industry has been gamified for years with frequent flier and hotel points programs. All of the major travel players are looking for ways to secure customer loyalty. Gamification helps them to create unique customer programs to drive long-term loyalty.”

Duggan should know. He helped create Expedia’s “Around the World in 100 Days” where players won real-life reward points by exploring new travel destinations virtually.

But for every attempt at making corporate travel a game, the results were less than inspiring. All the energy went into making a game, and no thought was really given to changing behavior.

That’s all changed with Rocketrip.

Rocketrip added the element missing from past behavior-change schemes…incentive. It’s not about playing a game, no matter how creative. Avatars and badges don’t translate into higher adoption levels or program savings. Appealing to the traveler’s self-interest…so they benefit personally was the key.

When you book a business trip, do you ever consider staying with your mom in Saint Louis, volunteering to take connecting flights from New York to L.A., or doubling-up with a coworker in your Chicago hotel suite? Why should you suffer such inconveniences when your employer’s policies permit you to travel non-stop and book $300-a-night suites without your buddy from marketing snoring in the next bunk?

Indeed, most workers have little to gain from going above and beyond to save company cash when the employer’s rules give permission to spend it freely. And one of the rare areas where employees still enjoy plenty of latitude, and relish pushing their expense accounts to the max, is travel. Employers recognize that severely tightening travel rules, requiring red eye flights and double-occupancy, is an extremely unpopular method of curbing expenses. So, wouldn’t it be great if, instead of launching yet another dreaded cost-cutting effort, companies could rally workers themselves to find big savings—by offering what amounts to a generous benefit?

Rocketrip has developed a novel solution. It offers a product that guides its clients to substantially lower their travel costs by sharing the savings with their employees. “The theme is that when employees spend company money, they’re not spending it wisely,” says Rocketrip founder and CEO Dan Ruch. “Under our system, they’re motivated to spend the company’s money the same way they spend their own money.”

Seamlessly functioning within a company’s existing travel program, Rocketrip creates a customizable “Price to Beat” for flights, car rentals, hotels, and rail travel. (Teplis has integrated the solution within Concur Travel.) Employees get to keep a portion of the savings when they choose travel options that fall below that mark. Once they submit their expenses, employees navigate to Rocketrip’s Rewards Store, where they can redeem their savings for cash cards or gift cards from hundreds of major brands.

How much can an employee earn by helping their employer company save? Say an employee books a trip from Chicago to San Francisco; he or she is permitted to take a round trip, non-stop coach flight that costs $500, and can stay four nights at a four-star hotel for $175 a night, for another $700. The trip comes to a total of $1,200.

Under the Rocketrip plan, the employee has a strong incentive to beat that budget. He or she gets to keep a big chunk of every dollar, as much as half, that falls below the $1,200 normal expense, or benchmark. For example, if the road warrior in question takes a connecting route through Denver that reduces the air fare from $500 to $300 and stays with a cousin in San Francisco instead of booking a hotel, the savings would come to $900. And the employee can pocket as much as $450.

Teplis Travel officially announced their partnership with Rocketrip two weeks ago. To read the press release, click here.

“We’ve already seen tremendous success from our clients who are leveraging Rocketrip’s platform with their existing travel program,” said Teplis Travel’s CEO, Gary Teplis. “Partnering with Rocketrip was a perfect opportunity to help clients save more on their corporate travel spend and reward travelers with some extra money in their pocket! At Teplis Travel, we remain on the path of innovation to meet the evolving needs of our customers,” said Gary Teplis.

Additional sources:
(Fortune) (Eye for Travel)

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