Mobile App Gamification at IRF Invitational 2014

Can you really Gamify Happiness?

This was the challenge we set for ourselves one year ago, over an In the Pool review about the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) Invitational 2013. The IRF has been a leader in research and for the last few years has focused on providing an excellent mix of destination and industry education, and is the type of organization willing to take risks and push the delivery model of education.

In 2013, there was a lot of information presented on data, mobile usage and yes, why social gaming within an app works for conferences and events. We even had a small element of gaming, related specifically to tweets about what we were seeing, hearing, learning and sharing during the conference.

What was missing from last year’s event was a full-fledged gamified environment, one that takes into consideration the key gamification design concepts of clear rules, voluntary participation, an excellent feedback loop, and meeting the goals set out at the beginning.

For the 2014 Invitational, the IRF’s goals included connection between participants, recognition for the sponsors who make this all possible, opportunities to showcase the many beautiful places we will explore while here, and truly immersing participants in what a gamified environment can feel like. What we didn’t want was to have any reason for people to be paying more attention to their mobile devices than the people we were with, so we were careful to make the design relevant to the whole experience.

And it worked – we built a killer app for the IRF Invitational 2014, which had nearly 90% adoption. In two days, the mobile happiness game achieved over 20,000 points with a leaderboard filled with competitive (and collaborative) spirit, and lots of people paying attention to their surroundings and the people they were with, while still scoring big! This just goes to show that you CAN gamify happiness and see big wins for your business incentive trip!

So why focus on happiness? Remember we said the IRF is about research and data and using this to improve the incentive industry?  The closing keynote this year was Michelle Gielan, whose messages backed up what we had heard all day from smart researchers – happiness leads to productivity and engagement, and since engaged employees are those who typically win incentives at work, there is a tie-in that is undeniable.