Wait, Vaccine Lotteries Does It Really Work?


United Airlines would much like people starting to fly in planes again. They stopped during the pandemic — almost 10 times as many people flew to the United States the Memorial Day weekend in 2019, the Before Times, as in the same three days in 2020. It’s a problem for United, because air travel is, like, all about United.

This company would also very much like people who fly in airplanes to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Not that the floors and airports are riddled with infection! Definitely not, probably. But vaccinations are, we agree, a social good. Almost everyone wins, except germs.

But United don’t want that need vaccination. People get so angry. So earlier this year, corporate bigwigs began brainstorming ideas to encourage people to get vaccinated. and also fly United. His idea: Give everyone who receives their blows a reward. Maybe a few thousand miles of frequency points? It is the airline’s equivalent of a donut, or a beer. You can have it, as a pleasure.

But no. “There were a lot of us who, I would say, supported a lot from the marketing science group at United who said,‘ Actually, this isn’t the right path, ’” says Luc Bondar, vice president of marketing for United United and chairman of the airline’s frequency program, MileagePlus. ”I might have fallen into an executive meeting to say that there is a different way. And outside of any whole discussion, we agree on an approach that is very much aligned with behavioral science. ”


That approach is a big damn lottery. Try to get vaccinated and join MileagePlus, and you can win a year of travel for two in first class. Now, probably it will not be win. But still, this is a high value target. They have hot nuts. “It was that exchange. Do we want to give something certain but small, ”says Bondar,“ versus going out with a fight? “

Bondar offered a Willy Wonka-esque gold ticket experience, “and the fact that you and I are talking, I think, is proof that we did it right,” he says. In the first 48 hours, United had more than 400,000 entrants and more than 100,000 new signups for MileagePlus. While Bondar has not released the data, he thinks the data on the vaccine cards that beginners have uploaded will show that a significant number got their shots after the award was announced. It’s a good guess, since lotteries with huge prizes in numbers have led to otherwise huge upticks in vaccination rates in half a dozen states in the United States, including led by Republicans. Ohio, Led by the Democrat California, and all-hell-happen-in Oregon. (In Ohio, weekly vaccinations were down 25 percent before Gov. Mike DeWine announced that five lucky shooters would win $ 1 million, and teens could get scholarships in full swing. The falling slope turned into an upward trend, in the wake of a 49 percent increase in vaccinations among Ohioers 16 years and older.) A few life-changing awards may be just the thing to get hesitant Americans to enrich their lives. sleeves. It’s just science. Well, economy. But always. It actually works.

Maybe it’s not stay well with you, the idea that public health officials (or airlines) are resorting, honestly, to half-ways to lead the crowd toward a scientifically marvelous blow that prevents a potentially fatal disease. You’d think the grand prize would be “no more”.

In fact, it’s not just how people make these kinds of decisions. Some people are very motivated to get vaccinated. Some people are very motivated not to. But some people might see the whole fact as a little more inconvenient for them than it is useful for society. As Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have written in their book Nudge-An updated version comes out in August – when people feel that way, get them to do whatever it takes to make those things easy. It helps if you do those fun things too. “Lotteries are fun. It’s like a good dream, ”says Thaler, Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago, when asked about vaccine lotteries.

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