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$170,000 behaviour failure

 

After Stonehenge, the Roman Baths in Bath is the UK’s second most popular tourist attraction. Making a wish was big business for the Baths, with visitors throwing more than $170,000 worth of coins into the pool annually.

When coins were banned, that all changed.

From March 2022, visitors have instead been asked to make a contactless payment or put money in a cash box.

But most chose not to. Only $4,500 was donated last year.

Now, there are clear reasons why banning coins was sensible.

Coins damage the 2000-year-old Baths, it’s costly to drain and collect the coins and many people don’t carry coins anyway.

But just because something is sensible on paper doesn’t mean it translates to real world behaviour.

In this case, the problem was assuming payment methods were equal – that the value of the coins was the same whether they were thrown in the pool or tapped on a payment reader. But coins represent more than currency – people weren’t simply making a donation, they were releasing their hopes and dreams to the Universe. 

Added to this, visitors would see everyone else’s coins in the pool, making the act of giving public. There’s no social proof with a credit card tap.

This story is a $170,000 reminder that failing to understand and design for real-world behaviour has real-world consequences.

Here's how to design for behaviour effectively.

 

Source material: https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/tourist-attraction-loses-170k-by-going-cashless/news-story/97bf72c7042f7ddb4611263dffc87511

Image by: loseitlady from Pixabay

 

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