Greetings from Singapore


It’s billed as the “longest flight in the world” but Singapore Airlines does everything within reason to make it less long — including taking routes that aren’t always the shortest geographically. The airline assesses wind patters each day and then plans the most efficient flight route to take advantage of the maximum tailwinds.

Last night, that meant the flight ended up following a path similar at the start to flights from New York to England and western Europe, before passing over Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, India and finally Singapore.

As we flew, I observed the clich? “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line” isn’t always accurate, nor are some of the marketing truisms and assumptions (and even science).

Yet, ignoring the truisms and science to just follow the path you’ve always used, or for convenience, or because you want to try something new, doesn’t usually make much sense.

There are guidelines and guide rails, and just like the flight path, you need to plan it and think it through before heading out on your marketing campaigns.

Singapore Airlines, for example, has built a reputation for service quality but it also sets rules on how it delivers its service. If you are in the cheapest economy seats, you’ll find the standards much higher than many other airlines. On our flight, we received the second level of service — premium economy. It comes with a few more perks and benefits, and makes the extremely long flight tolerable.

Most of the plane was occupied by business class travellers. The “heavy” business class configuration makes sense on the route between two business centres, and of course for the airline’s yield management.

Some business class passengers were unhappy with the fact that Singapore Air didn’t provide fancy amenity kits or pyjamas on the long-haul flight, but they missed the obvious point: Singapore Airlines is one of the few carriers that also offers First Class on some of its routes — and the over-the-top goodies are available only on those flights.

In other words, with this airline, you receive the service designed for the class you purchased, and nothing more.

That’s okay for me. I paid $1,250 US for the long flight, and received everything promised — and enjoyed the experience, though I certainly needed a good long night’s sleep to catch up before arriving here.

Takeaways relevant for marketing:

  • It doesn’t hurt to set guide rails and limits on your service and adhere to them — as long as you go beyond the marketplace’s expectations you’ll have happy clients, who return for more;
  • Being first, being unique, has big advantages in marketing, but in some cases, less is more — delivering passengers by taking a less-straight-route in 17 hours rather than 18.5 hours might cause the airline to lose the “longest flight in the world” status — but I don’t think anyone on the flight would mind arriving a little early.
  • Yes, think, plan, and prepare, but it is always good to adapt and design alternative approaches to achieve your goals.

It’s time to head out for the day.

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