Who dares could win instantly and save on their stay
THE SWITCHED-ON TOURIST
THERE is only one thing people like more than saving a dollar and that’s winning one. An Australian company has come up with a clever way for travellers to do both.
The concept is simple and surprisingly fun. Travellers make a booking on a hotel’s website knowing that once they’ve locked in their rooms they get to spin a wheel and, if it stops in the right spot, one of their nights will be free. The ingenious bit is that this is no random lucky draw; the hotel guarantees that, for instance, every fifth room sold will be given away. That means every guest has at least a one-in-five chance of winning and, because the process is sequential, anyone who books five nights will receive one free.
For winners, the game also provides instant gratification, which is vital, says Damien Cantelo, chief executive and co-founder of Wynbox, the Sydneybased company now licensing its patented Book-to-Win technology to trusted travel brands.
‘‘If people have to wait to find out if they got lucky in a draw, then they are more likely to give it a miss,’’ Cantelo says. ‘‘It’s the same if the odds are too small . . . or if the prize isn’t relevant to everyone — some guests may already have, say, an iPad, but every guest wants their hotel room for free.’’
Wynbox isn’t the first company to explore the gamification of travel. In Britain, visitors to Yipiii also can spin a raffle wheel in the hope of winning a product or deal offered on the website. Each spin costs £1 ($1.57) and there are restrictions on how many times a shopper can play. If they don’t win, they can put the money spent gambling towards the cost of the item they were after or something else on the site.
In the US, a far more controversial model called ‘‘penny bidding’’ gives travellers the chance to win cheap flights, with players pre-buying bids and then using them to compete in brief auctions. It may be exciting to take part and when the clock stops the top bid can win a bargain (at least in theory), but everyone else who places a bid loses their money. ‘‘It’s a model that can work well for one customer,’’ says Cantelo, ‘‘but for the others it doesn’t work out so well.’’
The key to Wynbox’s model, he says, is its simplicity and transparency. The first travel company to give it a whirl was the Rydges Sydney Airport hotel, which celebrated its recent opening by giving guests who booked in late April and early May a one-in-five chance to win a free room. It hoped the initiative would boost sales by up to 20 per cent, but when bookings jumped 110 per cent compared with other reservation channels, the hotel extended the promotion.
Cantelo says other properties are keen to run Book-to-Win promotions and Wynbox is hoping the concept will be run on mobile devices. The key thing, he says, is that gamification allows travel companies to offer attractive discounts without slashing rates and ultimately undermining customer perceptions of a product’s value.
‘‘If I sell a room for $100 rather than the $200 I normally charge, the next time I try to sell that room people will think: ‘That is a lot more than I paid before. Why would I buy for double?’ . . . Once a hotel stops (discounting), its sales can plummet.’’ wynbox.com yipiii.co.uk rydges.com Lisa Allen is on leave.