How to encourage a volunteer to give up a seat when a flight is overbooked?
Airline employees try various tactics. Some airlines dabble in advance bidding, such as Delta soliciting volunteers at check-in and requiring a bid amount.
On Motley Fool Money Dr Cialdini offered the airline example as a case of what not to do:
I did identify one guy who did it completely wrong. He said, “If you will give up your seat, we will offer you a $5,000 coupon.”
Everybody listened, right? Then he said, “Oh, just joking. It’s only $300.”
Not one person went up there. He used $5,000 to get our attention, but then he fumbled the ball, because compared to $5,000, $300 seemed trivial.
He could have said something else, he could have said, “…and we’re going to give you a coupon for $5.” He would have gotten the same attention from it, “What?! $5?” Then he could have said, “No, just kidding. $300!” I’ll bet he would have gotten a crowd of people.
Readers, how should airlines pre-suade volunteers when the offer, say $300, is going to be the same regardless?