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Virgin America / Flying Higher

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world

Airline lets passengers bid for seat upgrades via app

Virgin America has partnered with mobile app SeatBoost to invite customers to take part in a live auction of seat upgrades. Passengers need to open the app and enter their flight number 90 minutes before departure.

If premium seats are available, users can start bidding against one another in a live auction. Bids are presented in real time on a leaderboard and auctions usually last for around 60 minutes. Winners are notified on the app and issued new boarding passes.

Currently, the initiative is available to all passengers departing from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and those departing for Las Vegas from San Francisco International Airport.

 

Contagious Insight / 

Auction fever / Once passengers are caught up in the buzz of a bidding war they are more likely to make impulsive decisions and spend more than they intended. In fact, research shows that 48% of people pay more in an auction than the product’s fixed price. That’s because bidding taps into cognitive bias that make it harder for people to act rationally.

For example, during an auction two of Robert Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion are at work. His Scarcity Rule explains that people overvalue things that are scarce – such as a handful of premium seats. Secondly, his Social Proof principle claims that people are more persuaded by things that other people have deemed worthwhile. So the auction environment, which makes other people’s desire for a product evident, is the ideal breeding ground for this bias. ‘Once we’re involved in an auction we’re not just paying to own the sale item, we’re paying to beat other people who are bidding and prevent them from having it,’ says a BBC article on the subject.

Tactical timing / Waiting at the airport gate is extremely tedious, so it’s possible that passengers may be inclined to use the app out of sheer boredom. By turning purchasing an upgrade into a game, Virgin America may be able to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise consider premium seats.

 

 

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world. I/O helps anyone in the world of marketing understand why brands are innovating, how they're doing it and with what success.

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