Bad incentives lead to bad results

I got an email from United Airlines yesterday announcing a closed beta test of a new version of with enhanced booking, Mileage Plus account information and better award travel booking. (Which is sorely needed.)

United offered a carrot of a 15% discount on my next flight in exchange for completing a survey about the site. The catch: only the first 20,000 respondents get the discount.

So I spent 5 minutes on the site and about 2 minutes on the survey. Bad incentive, bad data.

If they had said anyone who responds within the next week gets the discount, they would have gotten better data because I would have used the site for real needs.

It’s too bad, because I actually use all of these tools and would have real feedback to offer. They’ll just have to read my blog.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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