£9 A Night
Hard as it is to believe, a Malaysian Hotel chain opens its doors in Westminster next week with air
conditioned rooms on offer for just £9 a night. Tune Hotels opens its first branch in the capital with the promise
of 5 star luxury for 1 star prices.
Needless to say, there is a bit of a catch. The room is £9 a night
but you have to pay for everything else. It costs £3 to book on the phone, £3 for TV access, £2 for a
hairdryer…even £1.50 if you want a towel. Having the room cleaned costs £7.50, and there are plenty more
extras you can pay for.. Despite all this, it looks set to be just about the best deal in London.
I’m telling you about this for two reasons. Firstly because you
might need a cheap room for your next trip to the capital, but secondly because it's an interesting and
increasingly popular business model. Ryanair have been very successful in the airline industry by charging a
low headline price and then charging for EVERYTHING else. Tune hotels are doing the same thing.
Is there room in your market for someone to offer a stripped-bare
product or service, and then offer increased levels of comfort/luxury (at a price) for those with deeper
pockets or more discerning requirements?
Your Driving Billboard
Placing ad’s on the side of cars isn’t new, but here’s an
interesting twist on the idea. Rather than pay drivers cash for allowing their cars to be used, a petrol
station company in Singapore are paying ‘in kind’ with free petrol. This is all co-ordinated via a bespoke
website and a local shopping magazine.
Might this work here in the UK? Could you broker a deal between an
advertiser and the public, whereby the advertiser gets free advertising and the public get free goods and
services in return for becoming a mobile billboard? Petrol stations are an obvious target, but the scope for
this isn’t limited to car related businesses. It would work equally well with a restaurant chain for example,
with drivers getting free food vouchers based on their mileage and visibility profile.
You can’t have failed to notice the trend towards urban folk keeping
poultry in the last few years. It’s a trend repeated across the Atlantic, which is why a company called Just
Us Hens has been set up in Portland, Oregon to look after people’s hens whilst they’re away.
In addition to charging a fee for daily visits and feeding, the
company offer additional services (at extra cost) including wing clipping and beak trimming.
This wouldn’t work everywhere, but I can see it having potential in
upmarket urban areas where Giles and Tamara have followed the trend, but tend to travel a lot.
Cash From Waste
Sometimes you need to get right into the minds of potential
customers to spot an opportunity. On the face of it, there’s not a lot of value or potential in old tents
left behind by festival goers. But that’s before you factor in the environmentally conscious nature of a lot
of the young people who attend such events.
WiTHiNTENT salvages the fabric from the leftover tents and then
turns them into rainproof clothing and accessories for the festival market.
It seems to me there are three advantages here:
1. Free materials
2. An environmentally friendly business
3. An interesting PR story
Is there some discarded material or product you could recycle into
something desirable, and if so, could you set up a business with similar benefits and advantages? The
environmental movement isn’t going to go away any time soon, so now could be a good time to start thinking
There are so many areas in which the traditional retail concept is
being extended way beyond its normal boundaries. Take the Adidas store in Tokyo as an example.
Located in an area, popular with runners, the store has numerous
shower cubicles and lockers for rent. Customers are encouraged to try out the product properly and
effectively use the store like a running club.
The effect is to shift the emphasis away from pure selling, and much
more towards a help, advice and mentoring service. It’s a nice reversal too. For many years, gyms and health
clubs have sold equipment, clothing and other products. It’s interesting to see a retailer, almost becoming a
Might this be a concept you could borrow for your business? How
could you shift the emphasis in your business from pure sales, to a place where customers can go for help,
advice and a more holistic experience?
There’s little doubt that the UK has seen a massive influx of
immigrants from both eastern Europe and further afield in recent years, but how many companies have latched
on to the opportunity this affords?
In Italy, where 4 million foreign citizens currently live, bank
Extrabanca has seized on the opportunity. They offer a multi-lingual staff representing 11 nationalities, and
aim to serve the banking and investment needs of the immigrant communities.
Every business should be looking for an angle or niche which will
differentiate them for the competition, and this one seems to have a lot of potential. If you were a Pole
living in Italy, do you think you might head for the bank where they spoke your language and were geared up
to understand your needs?
So…is there an opportunity to focus on serving one or more immigrant
community in your own sphere of business? Even if you’re not going to fully focus on that, is there an
opportunity to set up a division or sideline to take advantage of the opportunity?