From working out, to going to the grocery store, to flying, gamification seems to be working its way into my daily tasks more and more. My “In Real Life” posts look at just how big of an impact these game mechanics in a non-game setting are having on me.
A few years ago, I arbitrarily choose my preferred airline and have been a loyal passenger ever since. I wasn’t privy to just how far this loyalty went until I made some recent travel plans. I spent days searching travel sites for the best deals with only one criteria in mind, that I rack up more of those precious frequent flyer miles. In the end, I paid more than other airlines were offering and yet I was pleased at the notion of increasing my accumulated miles. Two thoughts arose as my travel plans were finalized: more miles and this is gamification at its best.
I have no idea how many miles are necessary to earn a free trip but one thing I do know is the number of miles needed to reach the preferred flyer status. Every month I get frequent flyer statement emails showing me how many miles I have and how far I am from a preferred flyer threshold. It has become a game against myself to see how quickly I can get to preferred status. And I must admit that there is a sense of jealously when those who are more loyal and have already reached preferred status get to board the plane before me. It’s like a public badge of honor to parade past the rest of us for pre-boarding.
The incentives that encourage a frequent flyer to be loyal, at least with respect to me, are working quite well and the status earned gives me even more drive. And who could blame me with incentives like preferred boarding, preferred security screening, and a VIP help line? This airline is holding nothing back in trying to encourage my loyalty, and clearly it is working because every time I travel, the one requirement I cling to is that my miles continue to collect.