Economists will tell you that “incentives matter.” As an economic principle you want to find the smallest incentive to achieve the greatest possible outcome. This can be mathematically modeled for large populations to determine how to encourage prosocial behaviors, but how do you apply incentives to your personal life?
Guerrilla Happy Hour has been an ongoing research project in the application of personal incentives for prosocial behavior at small scale… aka how do get your friends to show up for drinks? The answer, it turns out, is a dollar.
It started in 2011 when Alex and I went to Kask, an adventurous but expensive cocktail bar in Portland, OR. We wanted to share this place with friends but knew the high-end cocktail experience and prices would be a turn-off to many of our friends. And sadly, they had no happy hour!
So we created one. With the launch of Guerrilla Happy Hour we invented an unauthorized happy hour and paid people a $1 for every drink they bought. A small discount, but enough of an incentive that we were able to encourage people to show up that might not have otherwise.
We found that just a $1 (given ceremonially as a $1 coin) gift for each drink, rarely totaling more than $40, was enough to encourage people to show up.
We’ve been successfully running GHH for ten years now and this is an incomplete history of the GHH project based on invitations sent:
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