TIILTS: Policy Points for Good Self-Bookings

TIILTS stands for Travel Innovations I’d Like To See.  You’ll see quite a few more of these in the weeks to come. This first one deals with corporate self-booking tools.

There’s a trend toward empowering corporate travelers when it comes to making their travel arrangements. Why not swim with this tide? Why not create a positive reward, rather than a negative consequence, for travelers who are about to pull the trigger on a travel purchase?

I’d like to see companies reward travelers for doing the right things. Before you say “No way – employees are expected to do that in the first, middle and last place!”, take a breath and hear me out.

What is one of the biggest obstacles to travel policy compliance? You got it – Frequent Flyer Points.  These loyalty schemes work really well, so why not take a page from the suppliers and put the concept to work for you buyers?

Here’s a mock-up of what a points-driven self-booking tool might look like (click on the image for a better view):

The keys are that the traveler gets very clear reinforcement of the desired booking behavior, the reward associated with it,  his current status, and what it takes to get to the next level.  There are lots of variations on this, but you  get the idea – a way-easy element to build right into the point of sale when – and where –  it matters most.

What would all these points cost?  A lot less than you might think.  My guess is that many travelers would respond to the simple challenge ( it’s a game, right?) and work to build up their points for personal satisfaction or peer prestige.  Others will take the more mercenary road and want to cash their points in.

Great – let ’em!  If the savings achieved from good travel procurement are that good, why not share a bit of the reward with the folks who make the savings happen?

Inspirational credit goes to Michael Tangney at Google,  Tom Ruesink and the work he’s done at Coca-Cola on the “batting average” concept,  and to Rock Blanco at the Travel GPA team for their focus on reporting these types of metrics at the traveler level.  They’ve proven that buyers who focus on these types of specific behaviors will see savings.  Now it’s time for a self-booking tool to put these points into play.

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8 thoughts on “TIILTS: Policy Points for Good Self-Bookings

  1. Scott – great TIILTS article today – thoroughly enjoyed reading it… love the acronym!

    I’ve been closely following the gaming industry, specifically social gaming, for some time now. The amount of individuals that participate in social gaming is astounding. It’s hard to believe that the revenue generated by social gaming is expecting to surpass the billion dollar mark in 2011.

    Some industry colleagues and I have also been discussing travel as it relates to social media gaming… we’ve been calling it the “Gamification of Travel”. I thought you’d enjoy this article:


    I firmly believe that adding a social gaming aspect to a corporate travel program has merit. When you think about it, the program could also be established on a cumulative, divisional basis. For instance, if employees who belong to the sales division adhere to corporate travel policy, their points would accumulate – thereby increasing the overall travel compliance points of the sales division.

    Keep the good ideas flowing…

    • Theo,

      Thanks very much for your valued comments. Sounds like you’ve been giving this gaming concept some serious thought – I hope you’ll share more whenever you’re ready. And speaking of sharing, that’s a great article you’ve supplied above. Gaming Trends 4 and 5, appealing to people’s social status, and virtual points and rewards, are spot-on for this self-booking tool application.

  2. Hi Scott (and readers),

    I totally agree with what you are saying. Basically, this was the same inspiration that led me to try to start SkinnyTrip. I have since decided to stop pursuing SkinnyTrip, however, for a number of reasons. I thought that this information may be useful to you or to any other aspiring entrepreneur that reads your blog, so here it is:

    I believe that it was the right decision for me to stop pursuing SkinnyTrip for the following reasons:

    1. The success horizon appeared to be very long. It seemed to me that it was going to be hard to build a market because :
    a.) There are a limited number of early adopter candidates due to the majority of travel managers being risk averse
    b.) There is a long sales cycle because travel managers themselves don’t have budgets, and they instead need to enlist support of other executives.
    c.) Travel managers are judged on how much money they save, using the pre-discounted prices as a baseline. Comparing savings based on employees choosing different properties, or different airline itineraries doesn’t fit neatly into this paradigm.
    2. The barrier to entry for large existing competitors is low. Basically, if I was able to build this new market, there would be a high likelihood that a large existing software company in the space would approximate my offering as a new feature in their system (e.g. GetThere, Cliqbook, Rearden etc.).

    I hope this information is helpful. Thank you so much for your time helping me better understand the travel market.

    Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.

    Take care,

  3. Pingback: TIILTS: Making Traveler Profiles Social | Gillespie's Guide to Travel+Procurement

  4. Good! Rewarding good behaviour is definitely better than punishing. It gives the middle of the curve folks something to strive for instead of just saying “at least I’m not like XXXX”. Though it should also be customizeable down the organizational hierarchy so divisions, or lower, can reward those behaviours that is more specific to them. Also should reward NOT travelling(maybe using telepresence) or combining trips. Focus on the goals of the organization, not just compliance with a travel policy.

    As for the “gamification” folks, this is just trying to reinvent the traditional rewarding behaviour, getting people involved, give recognition to folks, etc. Those who are into calling it by a new buzzword just seem silly to the rest of us. Though maybe using that new buzzword is how you are trying to “gain status/recognition”. Just don’t expect us to reward you for it. In fact, you should expect a penalty from us. :-)

  5. Pingback: Travel Booking Tool Goes Gaming | Gillespie's Guide to Travel+Procurement

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