Archive for July 2nd, 2012


Alternatives to Travel Campaign

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

A campaign to encourage the use of virtual meeting technologies as alternatives to travel is being run with 5 pilot departments within the University of Bristol (School of Arts (Archaeology, Drama, Music and Philosophy), School of Community and Social Medicine, Department of Geographical Sciences, School of Physiology and Pharmacology and Graduate School of Education)

The campaign is attempting to draw on Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini), to encourage uptake within the pilot departments, these principles are:

1.       Reciprocity
People tend to return a favour, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing.

How it was applied to the project:

  • Provision of headsets (“we’ll give you the headsets, you make the calls!”)
  • Provision of help & support (“we’ll help you, you make the calls!”)

2.       Commitment and Consistency

How it was applied to the project:

  • Disruption of consistent behaviours (i.e. non-use) by inserting strong messages when people are ‘in limbo’ and potentially open to them e.g. posters in coffee areas, on the back of toilet doors, in lifts, etc encouraging them to use virtual meetings

3.   Social Proof

People are more likely to commit to things when they see other people are also committed.

How it was applied by the project:

  • Ensured that there was Head of Department buy-in
  • Provided case studies about benefits

4.  Authority

People will tend to obey authority figures.

How it was applied to the project:

  • Supporting message from the Deputy Vice Chancellor
  • Asked Head of Departments to send out email messages supporting the pilot to staff

5. Likeableness

People are easily persuaded by other people that they like.

How it was applied to the project:

  • Attempted to get popular staff as departmental champions to promote the pilot

6. Scarcity

Any perceived scarcity will generate demand.  For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.

How it was applied to the project:

  • Limited number of headsets and videocams made freely available during pilot (in return for a short case study)

The project team also tried to address the issues brought up in the pre-questionnaire and workshops around knowing what equipment and rooms were available for booking virtual meetings and offering one-to-one support and training to get people started.

This information is available at : http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/advice/virtualconference/index_html

 The campaign will run for several months to allow the departments to explore the use of technologies for supporting virtual meetings.