Skip to main content

Being more creative about making money

Sometimes I see a business that is just throwing money away, and it's quite sad. This happened on my recent excursion on the Oriana. There's a group of photographers on board who capture assorted meaningful moments, providing pictures at prices ranging from £5.95 for a gangway shot to £14.95 for the posh formal night snaps. The day after they are taken (and for the rest of the voyage), these are displayed for you to buy. So they've invested all the time and effort in producing the shots. Some people buy them, some don't. At the end of the voyage I saw them taking down literally hundreds of photographs to throw away.

You might think they could be more creative by only printing the photos that are wanted. These are digital photographs - so they could have lots of screens you can scan through the photos with and choose the ones you want. They could even automate the payment for them, as everyone on the ship has a mag stripe/barcode ID card used for all onboard purchases. But I'm not sure if screens sell as well as real photos - and many passengers are elderly and might not like the technology.

However there is a way they could squeeze more money out of the punters. Compare the photographers with an airline. Both are selling a commodity that loses all value after a certain point in time - when the plane takes off, or when the punters leave the ship. Airlines maximize income from those seats by selling off anything left at the last minute for low prices. So rather than throw away those revenue opportunites, why not sell off prints on the last morning at greatly reduced prices - say £2 instead of £14.95? I'd have bought some.

At this point you are probably spotting a flaw in the idea. But almost all new ideas have flaws. The essential of creativity is not to dismiss the idea out of hand, but to grow it into something better. The problem is, why would anyone buy at full price, if they could get the photos at a fraction of the cost on the last day? The reason this isn't a problem for airlines is that by buying at full price you're guaranteed a seat - by waiting for standby (or whatever) you may well not fly. Most people don't do it, but it fills up some seats.

So apply the same probability restriction to the photos. Randomly dispose of a proportion of the photos before making the cheap offer. This way, if you really want a photo you will have to buy it at full price. But if you wouldn't have bought it and it happens to be one of the chosen few, you may will pay up the small amount. It would be necessary to experiment with percentage sizes to see how risky you have to make it - I suspect you could get away with leaving 1/2 or 1/3 of the photos for sale - but once you'd established this, you would be printing money. Snaps anyone?


  1. good stuff Brian

    a.m.s. -


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou