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The Middle Seat

The Middle Seat Lottery!

The middle seat on a plane is always a lottery – particularly if you are travelling alone. It can be frustrating, constricting and stress-inducing to be in the middle of two strangers.

You’ve got everything crossed that the people you’re placed next to don’t smell, aren’t loud and have good spacial awareness (nobody wants to be squashed for an entire flight.)

Which leads us to nicely onto research from Virgin Australia, an airline delivering domestic flights. The company revealed that ‘less than 1 per cent intentionally selected the middle seat as their first seat preference’ and ‘just 3 per cent nominating “any seat”.

Putting people in a seat that isn’t their first choice is something airlines want to avoid. 

However, they still have a business need to fill those seats! 

In comes Gamification

We’ll just summarise the cliff notes from this press release from Virgin Australia regarding a recent marketing and promotional campaign:

  • Virgin Australia has today launched its first customer innovation, the Middle Seat Lottery.
  • To celebrate the launch at Melbourne Airport, Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka surprised all guests who were seated in middle seats on a flight to Adelaide with over $350,000 USD worth of FREE Virgin Voyages cruises.
  • The Middle Seat Lottery will run until April 2023. Guests who sit in the middle seat will have a chance to win one of the extraordinary prizes on offer, with a new prize and winner every week.

The hopes of the campaign is to transform the middle seat from an uninviting place to one more palatable.

This plan sent our gamification brains into overdrive, and we’d thought we’d share a few thoughts on it! We’re going to break down some of the thought process, gamification and how it can potentially apply to your business.

Virgin Australia promotional image for the Middle Seat Lottery.
1. Data is everything !

To give some extra context to the lottery, it’s a trial (for 6 months) and only open to those who are part of their (free) frequent flyer membership.

As with anything, the results of Gamification comes from knowing and measuring data. Frequent Flyers can be analysed and monitored to see if there is any difference in their flying habits.

With the membership details they will be able to view any uptake in the seat preferences, and if it happens on a regular basis.

If the frequent flyer uses the middle seats more regularly, then it may start to ‘condition’ the passenger to be more comfortable in those seats. 

A long-term bonus of the campaign is more people signing up to their frequent flyer scheme (for the length of the lottery), and some may remain part of the scheme –  meaning more chances to promote directly to them. 

They’re only running the lottery for six months, which we expect is for testing to see if the project has worked or not, and to be able to review and tweak for longer term.

We always talk about Gamification being a mix of art and science and as with any good science experiment it needs solid parameters in order to measure effectiveness, which this six-month trial does with this deadline.

Make sure in your business you can track your customers/leads/members/clients as best as you can, without breaking any laws!

The more data you have about how they are engaging with you, your products/services and your courses means that you can make more informed decisions and highlight any issues that may need rectifying.

More data means more opportunities to personalise their experience (and your) offerings. Personalisation is a key component in Gamification, as the more bespoke you’re able to make your offerings for your customers the more successful you’re likely to be in your gamification (and business) efforts.

2. Meaningful prizes.

Borrowed again from the press release, here are the main prizes that were on offer:

For each week of the competition, one winner will be randomly selected winning one of 26 unique and wonderful prizes. Prizes up-for-grabs include: 

  • Platinum Velocity Frequent Flyer Status plus one million Points.
  • A cruise in the Caribbean with Virgin Voyages, including return Premium Economy flights to the USA with United Airlines.
  • Flights and tickets to your AFL (Aussie Rules Football) team’s away games in 2023.
  • Flights to Melbourne plus entry to the AFL ‘Before the Bounce’ pre-game lunch, AFL Grand Final seats, a pre-game boundary line experience, merchandise and entry to the AFL Grand Final after party.
  • A helicopter pub crawl extravaganza, including return flights to Darwin.
  • Cairns adventure package including accommodation, return flights, and a range of thrilling adventures – Bungy jumping, giant swinging, river rafting or tubing in the great Barron River.

These prizes are meaningful and are valuable to this specific audience of travellers.

What exactly do we mean? Read our blog post on prizes to gather more insight.  If you do ever offer a prize, make sure it’s something that your audience actually cares about and wants to have!

Reading these you might wonder about the adventure package one and how it could potentially relate to their audience?

Well these stats from Skyscanner and Kayak show solo travel is on the rise – meaning these people are more likely to be ‘happier’ in the middle if they have a chance to gain something from it.

  • Skyscanner data indicates 54% are considering going solo this year. (2023). ”Travel search engine Kayak’s data shows searches for single-traveler flights are 36 percent higher for 2023 travel than in 2022. While a survey by Skyscanner, a Kayak rival, indicates one in two travelers (54 percent) are considering escaping solo in 2023, with 65 percent choosing to go their own way because family and friends don’t share their travel interests.” Source

Other prizes relate to different types of audiences (A Caribbean cruise may appeal to a business man with grown up children, while a pub crawl may be for a younger generation). This means that even if you aren’t interested in AFL (as an example), you may want to win one of the other prizes.

3. Connecting business objectives with fun.

Airlines suffered heavily with the pandemic, and during that time Virgin Australia has restructured to try and improve profitability. This lottery is one of many projects that they’ve undertaken during this time.

Giving a passenger more reasons to take a flight, increasing customer happiness, and having filled and profitable plane journeys will all be part of Virgin’s business objectives.

And the lottery will help them along the way (we imagine!).

Happier customers, means more journeys – more long-term customer revenue – and increases the likelihood that they’ll stick with Virgin as they build up their frequent flyer points (along with the chance to win a prize!)

It’s a fun (and fairly simple) way to gain more passengers, and to increase word of mouth as the competition spreads.

If you are contemplating a gamification (or any type of marketing) project – ask yourself the two whys with clarifying ‘what’s’.

  • Why am I doing this?
    • What is the objective that this project/marketing campaign/post is trying to achieve?
  • Why should the customer/client care?
    • What do the customer/client get out of it?

So that’s our brief take on this fab gamification project.

Want to learn more about how other businesses are using Gamification?

We write monthly in-depth case studies as part of our Gamification Insider membership, but we go a step further than this and explain how you can use each technique to improve business results. You can also attend monthly Codebreaker Clubs where we workshop how to use the techniques in your business regardless of your industry to motivate yourself or others to take action. There’s a lot more too. Membership tiers start from just £7.99 per month (inc VAT).Find out more.

Alternatively, if you are looking for more 1-1 support in your next Gamification project, you can apply for a 1:1 Consultation or a Voxer Day where we can help you to level up your existing successful membership, course or launch using Gamification techniques.

Would you consider sitting in the middle seat for a chance to win these kinds of prizes?

Answer in the comments below! 

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