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


Evidence that Retail Therapy Works

BPS Research reports a recent study that suggests you can buy relief when feeling down and with little evidence of regret or guilt after the purchase. This is the part of the study that I found most interesting:

Lastly the researchers had 69 undergrads complete two retrospective consumption diaries, two weeks apart, documenting their purchasing behaviour, mood and regrets. All the participants admitted in the first diary to having bought themselves a treat (mostly clothes, but also food, electronics, entertainment products and so on). Sixty-two per cent of these purchases had been motivated by low mood, 28 per cent as a form of celebration. Surprisingly perhaps, treats bought as a form of mood repair were generally about half the value of treats bought for celebration, reinforcing the notion that retail therapy is constrained, not out of control. Moreover, according to the diaries, the retail therapy purchases were overwhelmingly beneficial, leading to mood boosts and no regrets or guilt, even when they were unplanned. Only one participant who’d made a retail therapy purchase said that she would return it, given the opportunity.

I’m not that surprised. I remember indulging in retail therapy on a couple of occasions and it worked perfectly!

Does Facebook Hurt Relationships?

This is an infographic on the affect Facebook has on relationships. What I find most interesting are the high number of potential stressors that people are exposed to by using Facebook – status updates, friends and contacts, etiquette, and your mood and status. Sharing so much information publicly makes us more conscious of how we are perceived.

Like most things in life, it suggests that a little exposure is better than a lot.

Facebook and Relationships
Collaboration between All Facebook and Online Dating University

The Psychology Behind Social Commerce

I’ve been researching for Kuliza’s upcoming Social Technology Quarterly Report and trying to get an understanding of how social commerce works. I found an excellent and comprehensive post by Paul Marsden that explains the impact of social psychology on shopping. If you prefer visuals you can check out the presentation version instead of the blog post.

He explains that when shopping, people are thinslicing all the information they are confronted with. We do this so we are left with only the most relevant cues to make our shopping decisions. The article outlines in detail the 6 heuristics that people use to process the thin-sliced information:

  1. Social Proof – we take our cues from what other people have done
  2. Authority – we take our cues from what people who have specialist knowledge, experience or expertise have done
  3. Scarcity – we take our cues from how available opportunities are and fear of potential loss
  4. Liking – we take our cues from people we like
  5. Consistency –  we take our cues from our beliefs and past behaviours
  6. Reciprocity – we take our cues from being able to repay favours

Understanding how people make decisions will help brands develop better-informed and more focused social commerce strategies.


Stephen Wiltshire – Savant

I read about Stephen Wiltshire recently in Oliver Sacks’s An Anthropologist on Mars. He is an architectural artist and savant who has a remarkable ability to reproduce city scenes in minute detail after just 1 brief view.

Here is a video of him drawing a 5 meter panorama of Rome over 3 days after a 45 minute helicopter ride: