Cutting through the buzz on traveler gamification in managed travel
December 2013

The CWT Solutions Group shows how to unlock the next level of traveler loyalty and compliance

A travel buyer has many tools in their arsenal to drive compliance, but with travelers constantly connected and bombarded with information, the travel program must find new ways to break through the clutter and get travelers’ attention. To do that, the messages travelers receive also must address what’s in it for them to comply. 
For these reasons and more, traveler gamification programs have found momentum in managed travel, reaching buzzword status throughout the industry in recent months. Here, the CWT Solutions Group, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s global consulting arm, takes a closer look at how travel buyers can use gamification to engage travelers in new and interesting ways.


Understand the importance of loyalty


Travel suppliers are experts at building and maintaining traveler loyalty through sophisticated programs. This has been happening for decades, and they keep innovating on this front. Many suppliers, including airlines, have shifted their loyalty programs to reward travelers for spending more. For example, in the past, travelers earned the same number of miles for the same flight, regardless of what they paid. Today, travelers increasingly earn larger awards in accordance with how much they spend on their ticket, or for purchasing extra products and services from the supplier. And start building loyalty of your own.

While travel suppliers have perfected the art of traveler loyalty, for the most part, managed travel programs have done very little to build loyalty with their own travelers. This must change if organizations are to keep their travelers in policy, despite the endless options available at their fingertips. Further, as suppliers begin awarding travelers for spending more, the travel program must counteract this with equally attractive rewards. The greater the "personal cost" to the traveler of being loyal to the program rather than to their favorite supplier, the more tangible the reward from the organization must be. Gaming techniques offer a variety of options to accomplish this. 


Achieve Super Compliance


Some organizations may be concerned that traveler gamification programs reward travelers for doing what is expected of them, which they should be willing to do without the promise of recognition. In fact, traveler gamification can and should be used to encourage travelers to make the best possible decision for the company when presented with multiple compliant options (of course without compromising traveler productivity or wellbeing). The CWT Solutions Group calls this "super compliance" – moving beyond a focus solely on compliant vs. non-compliant decisions to place more emphasis on compliant vs. super compliant behavior. Traveler gamification can be designed to provide a greater reward for super compliant behavior.


Advancing to new levels: additional recommendations

  • Ensure relevance for all. Gaming isn't relevant only for a specific group of employees; all human beings are motivated by recognition, reward, and friendly competition. Be careful not to alienate groups of people by designing, and explaining, a gaming program that appeals to all. 
  • Know what you want to improve. Identify the particular behaviors that have the potential to drive the greatest benefit to the program, and set goals around the desired amount of improvement over a period of time. Then, work with a consultancy such as the CWT Solutions Group to deploy traveler gamification tactics that will best drive the desired behaviors. 
  • Focus on the traveler. Many compliance improvement efforts of the past have focused primarily on what's in it for the company. While accomplishing company goals is obviously the primary focus, use this new platform to frame the discussion on what's in it for the traveler. 


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