Advertised as ‘a class beyond first’ it features seats so wide you could fit two of the Roly Polys in them. There’s your own personal cabin space, a 32-inch widescreen TV, plus a full-sized bed. Food is gourmet and entertainment is non-stop. In short, we’re talking outrageous luxury. And one man who decided that all this was worth £50,000 for two tickets on its maiden flight from Singapore to Sydney was Australian-based Briton Julian Hayward. His successful bid bought him the Suite Class Package and the honour of being the first one up the steps. For that kind of money, I’d want to be guaranteed the first in line down the emergency chute too. With my shoes on.
An Australian, Tony Elwood, paid a measly £25,000 for his two tickets but supplied the most valuable quote for the marketing people. As he digested his lunch of marinated lobster, sipped Dom Perignon from a crystal glass, and reclined lazily on the double bed with his wife, Julie, he said: ‘I’ve never been in anything like this in the air before in my life’. He then neatly summed up what is the real trial for everyone working in marketing by adding: ‘It’s going to make everything else after this seem simply awful.’
I travel Singapore Airlines every year and I understand. Once you’ve experienced their Business Class it’s very difficult to go back to a regular seat. When it comes to luxury travel, they’ve raised the bar another notch for all their rivals. The situation is the same whatever product you’re marketing.
If utopia for marketing professionals is to get people to queue up to spend obscene amounts of money, then there are great lessons to be learned from the A380. Firstly, if there is any way to squeeze exclusivity from your current offer you should do it. Rarity and exclusivity sell. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask a premium price for a premium product. People will pay it. And thirdly, whatever you are doing now probably isn’t good enough. You can build a better mouse trap, but don’t expect mice to come scurrying to form a queue to use it. Because right now someone somewhere is building a better one than yours.
Philip Hesketh is a professional speaker on the psychology of persuasion and author of Life’s a Game so Fix the Odds.