Can you gamify the use of airports?

[This post was originally published on ZaGarage by Kuliza on August 11 2011. You can read the original here.]

Indian airports plan to offer incentives to airlines and passengers to increase traffic

High value, long haul passengers travelling between the US-Europe and Australia, India and Asia have a range of options through established airport hubs such as Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Indian airports and airlines miss out on this market because of lack of established hubs and poor onward connectivity for passengers not travelling further in India. As a result Indian airports are looking at incentivizing airlines, airports and even passengers to use their airports. Some excerpts:

Hyderabad international airport has started the ball rolling by offering incentives to travel agents to persuade passengers to travel via the airport and will soon reward passengers for using the airport as transit point.

“Hyderabad airport does not have captive traffic like Delhi or Mumbai,” he said, requesting anonymity. “Big airports will resort to incentivize airlines and passengers as competition is cut-throat from their international peers.”

Hyderabad airport is offering loyalty points through a specialized company called RewardPort India that claims loyalty and promotions industry in India is currently valued at Rs.20,000 crore a year.

The [Hyderabad airport] programme has three layers—a Web-based interface with travel agents, followed by a complete set of specially packaged privileges that can be availed by using a loyalty card, and the reward points that can be redeemed for products and services, including restaurants, spas, children’s products, etc.

The full article can be read here.

It makes sense to offer incentives to airlines or travel agents to increase airport traffic. I would find it very surprising if they are not doing this already. European lowcost airline Ryanair aggressively pursued incentives from local governments in exchange for increased passenger numbers to make it cheaper for Ryanair to fly to their airports.

However, for passengers the idea needs to be more exciting and engaging – essentially gamified – for it to encourage them to make decisions based on incentives and reward points. They could learn from some of the successful airmile programs such as United Mileage Plus by United Airlines.

As someone who uses airmiles I can’t see how this is going to encourage me to choose 1 airport over another while booking flights. I’m not going to fly via Hyderabad because I can use the airport spa or get a free sandwich at Cafe Coffee Day (that in itself is a great reason not to encash airmiles or reward points!). Ultimately I want to get to my destination with as little flight time, unnecessary stops and potential delays as necessary. The better connectivity and airport experience in Bangkok, Singapore, Frankfurt and Dubai makes it simple to choose how I would fly, irrespective of reward points or discounts at airport retailers.

Image credit: ncrkhabar


A Case Study of SCVNGR’s Game Layer

Mashable has written a case study on SCVNGR’s campaign with the restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings. The campaign ran for 3 weeks leading up to March Madness.

BWW partnered with SCVNGR to add a competitive game layer to make every visit to the restaurants more fun and engaging. It started with 3 challenges and as players accumulated points they could redeem them for rewards (for e.g. free Coca Cola).  When the challenges were completed players then leveled-up and were allowed to create their own challenges, allowing them to become participants in the game. Apart from sharing scores and photos on SCVGNR, a leaderboard showed the points total for users on a national level, with the winners getting tickets to the NBA finals.

The game was a basic application of game mechanics, focusing on providing extrinsic motivators to players. In my view, this type of game with the same level of rewards will become repetitive pretty quickly. For any game it is important to reduce the value of extrinsic rewards and increase the intrinsic rewards, allowing players to improve their mastery and keeping them engaged. However for BWW and it was a big success, with over 184,000 unique players, 1 in 3 returning to play, and over 100 million social impressions on Facebook and Twitter. So successful that they are starting another game, Flavour Fantastic Challenge.