Case Study Gamification Tech Conferences

Gamification Yields 560% ROI at 30,000 Feet

My favorite industry conference is the Gamification Summit in San Francisco. Beyond the stellar food, are even more exceptional case studies. Today’s marketers are data-driven, and #gsummit delivers the kind of metrics we all want to see.

Air Canada gamifies the passenger experience

Air Canada is one of the top 20 airlines globally, and the company has placed an emphasis on enhancing the passenger experience through technology, to drive overall loyalty.

Big deal, right? In aerospace, it is.

I spent part of my past life in the in-flight entertainment industry (yes, there is such a thing), and anything to do with aircraft is slow to adopt technological advancement. But Air Canada’s own Earn Your Wings loyalty promotion uniquely uses gamification mechanics to build customer loyalty, like using leaderboards and create a demand for status miles.

Ian Di Tullo, Director of Loyalty for Air Canada (AC) shared his case study to the business audience at this year’s Gamification Summit. The airline had exhausted traditional incentive programs, and needed to kick things up a notch. Gamification was their solution. And the campaign results bring new meaning to return on investment.

Loyalty intelligence leader, Colloquy gave Air Canada’s campaign high props, and summarized the campaign in a recent blog post, adapted below.

The Goal

Online booking systems changed passenger buying patterns and empowered travelers to buy on lowest price rather than airline affinity. Air Canada created the “Earn Your Wings” campaign to drive its existing loyalty rewards programs through gamification strategies, social sharing, and recognition, to turn collecting Aeroplan Miles into an exciting new experience.

Air Canada-Facebook

 The Initiative

For the Earn Your Wings campaign, participants monitored and shared their status on a leaderboard that ranked them according to the number of Wings earned. Players earned Wings for every takeoff or touchdown with Air Canada. Participants could also collect a variety of badges from different categories such as “Challenge,” “Pit Stop,” and “Savvy Traveller” by booking flights to select destinations.

Air Canada's Earn Your Wings Badges

Di Tullo explained, “adding badges, in particular, make it very easy to focus customers on pretty complicated tasks, and those are the foundation for lasting behavior change.” For example, if you want users to visit 3 new cities, fly to both coasts and go in first class twice, it’s much easier to create “incomplete badges” for each activity and display them on a page than to explain each one separately in text. Once users understand that each badge represents a challenge to be completed, it acts as a valuable shorthand for behavior.

To encourage competition, players got bonuses as they advanced upon the public Earn Your Wings leaderboard. The airline used industry partners to create ancillary game badges. Customers earned these badges through hotel stays and car rentals. By leveraging concurrent promotions, participants could also be awarded Bonus Aeroplan Miles relative to the amount of Wings earned, which counted towards Air Canada’s frequent flyer program, Altitude.

Air Canada s Earn Your

Since “status” is a motivating factor for business travellers, the logic behind “status” structures was used as the base concept for Earn Your Wings, reflected in the competitive online community where leaders could move up and down the leaderboard. Top players split a pot of 10 million miles at the end of the promotion period – an incentive that made the competition especially fierce.

The Results

AirCanadaGameThe two separate Earn Your Wings campaigns completed in 2013 accumulated a total of 114,716 registrations, with plans underway for a third installment in fall 2014. The first edition generated an ROI of more than 560 percent, and the second an ROI of more than 503 percent. Air Canada reports the two gamification-driven promotions brought in more than C$26.2 million in incremental revenues.

Members visited a total of 438,556 airports earning a collective total of 178,410,608 Wings and 156,480,016 Bonus Aeroplan Miles. Each participant earned at least 2,533 Wings and 1,422 Bonus Aeroplan Miles.

Participants viewed the microsite and leaderboard a total of 437,102 times and amassed almost 900,000 page views. Visitors to the website spent an average of two minutes and 24 seconds exploring their ranks on the leaderboard and the different badges available to earn.

Participants were also extremely engaged on social media, sharing posts about the contest 16,327 times.


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Andre Bourque (@SocialMktgFella) is a cannabis industry media influencer, brand executive and advisor, blockchain marketer, and cannabis columnist. He specializes in cannabis industry partnerships, distribution, and funding. He is a ranked social media marketing and content strategist.

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