Bad incentives lead to bad results

I got an email from United Airlines yesterday announcing a closed beta test of a new version of United.com 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.

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About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. His personal blog is at http://blog.agrawals.org and tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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