Wednesday, 3 June 2009

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 comment:

  1. good stuff Brian

    a.m.s. - www.photo6s.wordpress.com

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