Once upon a corporate business travel time, an employee made travel arrangements following a lengthy, dry-as-dust set of Guidelines for XYZ Company Corporate Travel. Compliance with published corporate travel policies was a no-issue matter – travellers followed policy or were not reimbursed for business travel expenses. 

Today’s corporate travellers have become accustomed to shopping Internet travel industry sites for the best deals, connections, accommodations, and rewards incentives. The Internet, and particularly the mobile web, have supported and even encouraged corporate travellers to become buccaneers, off-the-company-policy-grid travel warriors.

Buccaneer travellers cost corporate dollars

The problem many corporations face with their “buccaneer-I-can-get-a-better-deal (and score some travel points)” is that those buccaneers don’t always save money on their deals. They are often unaware of the unique discounts and accommodations specials that only travel agents may have access to; without that insider’s knowledge, the buccaneer traveller is less able to make smart booking decisions. Corporate policy makers, department managers, and corporate travel management groups seem to be perpetually at odds with their buccaneer travellers. 

The ongoing challenge is how management can effectively convey to all travellers that following corporate travel policy isn’t necessary just because the policy says so. There are often long-term payoffs through company cost savings policies that are reduced or lost because of non-compliance. This can translate into significant, and often unnecessary, increases in corporate travel expenses.

Transitioning corporate travellers into gamified travellers

Enter the gamified business travel expense system.

Gamification incorporates gaming with rewards as incentives for following corporate travel policies. The payoff for companies that have implemented gamified business travel has been (according to studies) costs lowered by as much as 20 percent per employee, per trip. Another important payoff is the increased motivation to comply that has rarely been achieved through traditional travel policy management.

Gaming the system

Gamification is a lot like gaming the system, in reverse. Gaming the system generally means that the player uses the system’s rules to “manipulate the system for a desired outcome.” In gamification, the travel policy is adapted and a gamification program is implemented to provide reward systems and reward incentives for following corporate travel policy.  It is a “manipulation” but in a fun, positive results way.

Gamified traveller benefits

Gamified travellers are basically rewarded for loyal behaviour – in this case, loyal behaviour is following corporate cost savings policies. Gamification uses games and competitions to help employees develop the habit of working within travel policy guidelines. 

Travellers often have game “missions” to accomplish.  In return, travellers may receive “leader board” recognition, points and badges, and even cash for reaching a milestone or remaining loyal to company travel programs and goals. Accumulated points may be redeemed for merchandise or travel rewards.

Integrating gamification

Although gamification has existed at one level or another for years, its application in business travel is fairly recent. 

Gamification would seem likely to appeal more to Gen Xers and Millenials than Baby Boomers but this isn’t exactly the case. While it is true that the Gen X and Millenial groups are more comfortable (and accomplished) at gaming, many Baby Boomers also find gamification programs engaging.

Employees who access the company’s travel agency website may land on a page that enables them to complete their travel booking and enter the game. Each step of booking the travel may garner points and advance the traveller-player along the mission. 


Gamification in corporate travel has produced some interesting results in addition to cost-savings. Gamification increases employees’ awareness of behaviour and habits, and an interest in work-related activities.

Results of using gamification business travel incentives are encouraging at this point. Gamification helps corporations control their travel expenses in a more creative and engaging way while providing a happier alternative than traditional “disciplinary action” for buccaneer travellers.