Last year, when the pandemic virtually shut down international air travel and devastated the airline industry, Singapore Airlines – like most other airlines – grounded most of its fleet. Forced to generate revenue in other ways, the airline offered a first-class dining experience at home. For $900, a chef comes to your house and cooks a meal for two, served on Wedgwood china, and complete with fine wines and Dom Perignon champagne.
In a digital world where everything is moving to “fast, flat, and free”, Singapore Airlines bucked the trend and offered a premium non-digital experience that was exactly the opposite.
There’s nothing wrong with the opposite of fast, flat, and free – that is, slow, bumpy, or expensive – as long as it intentionally adds to the experience. If you buy the $900 Singapore Airlines package and your neighbour orders Uber Eats, you’re both eating tonight, but you’re buying very different experiences.
If you provide the right experience, people pay a premium.
Digital technology enables a faster world, but many people crave slow experiences to escape that world. When my Dad travelled from Sri Lanka to England to study accounting in the 1950s, he took a slow journey by ship because air travel was too expensive. Now that air travel is much cheaper, people don’t travel to destinations by ship, but they do book cruises, which are deliberately slow experiences.
Digital flattens hierarchies and removes barriers, but some people prefer to pay for a more ‘bumpy’ experience. They join a tour group rather than exploring independently, use a financial adviser instead of investing directly, and prefer a hotel room with room service to an Airbnb property with a kitchen.
Finally, even though digital makes things cheaper, some non-digital experiences are worth the expense. We go to an outdoor cinema instead of watching a movie on Netflix, go to a live sporting event we could watch on TV, or buy a prestige car to show off our status.
What experiences are YOU creating?
Our world is becoming more and more digital. But don’t be digital just for the sake of digital. Do it to better serve your customers, employees, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders. And sometimes that means creating a premium, non-digital experience.