A Free Metro Ride



During the build-up to the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, the Russian authorities wanted citizens to feel a greater connection to the Games and to promote the benefits of a more physically active lifestyle.

One such innovation was to offer passengers on the Moscow Metro a free ride if they completed 30 standing squats in 2 minutes.

Transport officials installed a special ticket machine at Vystavochaya Station that could track and count up the number of “Olympic-standard” squats passengers completed. Those who reached 30 squats in 2 minutes or less were issued a free single ticket worth about 50p (I know, right!)

A single free ride on the Metro might not have been a huge value reward, but it was a reward that met participants’ objectives right in the moment (they were already there and wanted a ticket). The challenge, the “brag value” and the novelty factor alone would have raised its appeal. Also, it was there for a limited time only, so the scarcity of the event likely drew passengers in too.

A single ticket was a reward the Metro system could offer very cheaply as the marginal cost of accommodating a single extra passenger would have been negligible. In fact, the ‘squat-ticket’ system probably cost more to design, build, test and install than the combined cost of all the tickets issued, but the PR they received from global news outlets, itching to report on the Olympics with other than the usual bad news about readiness and security was invaluable.

I’ve already discussed the appeal of rewards, but this is another great example that they don’t need to be expensive and could just be a bit more of the thing your customers already get from you. Also a great example that with a little imagination, your reward system could bring you some excellent publicity.