Past efforts to use gamification to nudge corporate travelers into making specific decisions never really took off.
But with sustainability top-of-mind for many companies, the concept could be revived as businesses look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
GBTA research from earlier this year reveals 88% of the business travel sector sees addressing climate as the top priority. In addition, 80% of companies surveyed already have a sustainability program or sustainability team.
While carbon reduction efforts are already in play at many large corporations, one area, or “black box,” companies have less insight around is what an employee’s carbon footprint is as they move through cities.
To help push employees into making more sustainable transport decisions while commuting or on the road, mobility platform Iomob is launching its WheelCoin app, which rewards employees for making greener choices.
The concept is modeled on the popularity of “move2earn” projects, such as SweatCoin and Step’N, that reward consumers for exercise.
Boyd Cohen, co-founder and chief executive of Iomob, says: “The big black box for companies is how employees move around cities, how much emissions are generated by coming to and from the office and when traveling to other cities for work and once they’re there.
If you want to create an engaging way to nudge people to go green, you need to make it fun.
Boyd Cohen - Iomob
“They know about flights, but the rest of mobility on the ground they have no knowledge about. The idea is not to penalize an individual employee but create some transparency around and knowledge for the company around the overall emissions from employee mobility to get them thinking about how they can encourage employees to move more sustainably.”
The app also serves as a way for companies to demonstrate their green credentials, which helps with attracting and retaining talent, Cohen says.
App users earn WheelCoin by opting for lower-carbon options. A single WheelCoin equals 1kg of carbon avoided, and users can see how much carbon they have avoided over the course of the day.
The gamification element allows users to compete with others via leaderboards that display who is saving the most emissions in a city or at a club, for example.
To earn WheelCoin, users must buy or earn an NFT with the tokens available for various types of bikes, trains and other modes of transport.
“The app detects movement and triangulates data to detect and validate what mode of mobility you are using. We detect walking, biking, public transport, trains, car and planes, but we’re not rewarding cars and planes because they’re not low carbon,” Cohen says.
“If you want to create an engaging way to nudge people to go green, you need to make it fun, you need to do things to stimulate people to want to earn more so they actually change their behavior.”
David Bishop, chief operating officer of Gray Dawes Group, a U.K.-based travel management company, sees the potential.
using this concept from a green angle looks like a smart and enduring way to do
the right thing. The environmental concern of flying is not going away and will
only get greater as Gen Z’s voices become more prominent in the debate,” he
“We have one client who we met this week, and
their new policy is focused on environmental
impact and they are debating a ‘leader board’ per department/project for
environmental impacts. It’s an odd one as some departments/projects will
require more travel than others – but it’s then about using this as a baseline
to take data based on travel choices (mode/aircraft) types into the future.”
In addition to the corporate travel use case, Iomob also sees potential in partnering with airlines to build WheelCoin into existing loyalty programs.
“With a commercial airline, one of the things on the table is a branded WheelCoin app. Could an airline have its own ground mobility loyalty program built off our green mobility gamification scheme? Airlines are trying to figure out how they can be part of the low-carbon economy given that there’s only so much they can reduce emissions from the planes themselves,” Cohen says.
“Is there a path for creating some kind of exchange between an interoperable ground mobility loyalty program and an airline loyalty program? It’s a better way than doing just carbon offsets.”
The WheelCoin initiative also plays into Iomob’s own strategy going forward, with Cohen insisting the development is a “powerful synergy” between WheelCoin and the Iomob mobility platform.
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“Within 2023 we will be injecting the Iomob network inside the WheelCoin app. It’s fundamental to our business and revenue, but it’s actually what will make it really sustainable long-term. And the economy of the app will work better when you can earn WheelCoin not just for doing good things but also earn more for actually booking green mobility inside the app,” he says.
“So, the incentive scheme will evolve, and we believe WheelCoin will become what we call our demand partner. We think it will be our largest demand partner for the Iomob mobility network.”
He adds that going B2C via WheelCoin means the company is no longer constrained by waiting for the industry to form partnerships.
“We can go big and go fast and it allows us to accelerate our vision of being the world’s largest mobility network.”