Flying High in the Ferris Wheel Stakes

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I followed with much interest the recent news on the Singapore Flyer and how corporate organisations are making a beeline to book it for their functions. It is certainly heartening to see it kick off to a flying start, especially in light of the recent demise of Crazy Horse Paris and Jurong Crocrodile Paradise. With Adval running it (a subsidiary of NTUC Club), and a highly experienced management team (some of whom I know personally), I believe that it will at least have enough horsepower to keep itself going for some time.

To sustain itself over the long haul however, the Singapore Flyer will need to constantly sharpen its saw and offer unique value to its customers. There are many giant ferris wheels around the world - the London Eye, the Eye on Malaysia, a proposed Giant Wheel in Berlin (2008), another in Las Vegas, and yet another in Shanghai (the Shanghai Star). If you count the smaller sized wheels, there are plenty more in cities like Osaka, Hokkaido, and even Bangkok's Suan Lum Night Market!

If you think about arboreal attractions, there are already quite a few others in Singapore. These include the much loved Cable Car, Carlsberg Sky Tower, and the DHL Balloon. Each of these offer different perspectives and views. Having gone on all of them, I must say that I still enjoy the cable car rides most of all.

How can the Singapore Flyer possibly compete against such keen global (and local) competition? Would they be able to run circles (huge ones!) around the others? Well, here are some suggestions which may help them stay and win in the airborne race:

1) Exciting Events. Just build it and they will come? Not a chance anymore. In this day and age, you need to have a series of events and activities to keep people coming to your attraction. I read that the Singapore Flyer will have concerts and parties to keep the adrenaline levels high.

That's certainly a good idea. One which I hope they can sustain over the long term.

2) Holistic and Integrated Experiences. You need to bundle, package and price your attraction with other neighbouring lifestyle outlets to offer a complete experience. Theme them according to different target groups - couples, families, youths, even seniors.

For example, you can do an "Enchanting Evening" package for romancing couples in a capsule, complete with neighbouring hotel stay, a breezy bum boat ride, and maybe limousine transport to-and-fro. Another great tie-up would be with the neighbouring Marina Integrated Resort, where high rollers can also enjoy rolling up high?

3) Industry Partnerships. No man is an island, and no attraction can survive on its own steam even if its an island like Sentosa. Do special deals with travel agents, airlines, transport operators and even river boat operators (at the Marina Bay area). See how to incentivise inbound travel operators and guides to bring tourists here. Also, make sure that the Singapore Tourism Board has you on their map of must-see delights in Singapore.

4) Product Quantum Leaps. As highlighted in my earlier post on Purple Cows, you will need to refresh the product every now and then. It isn't worthwhile to do tiny enhancements now and then as people will not notice. Perceptions and mindsets are very often deeply ingrained.

To change them, you will need to overhaul your service offering with upgrades that are big enough for the news to pick it up. Perhaps the Singapore Flyer can create an offshoot called the Singapore Diver, where people can plummet to the deepest reaches of Marina Bay for a bungee-like experience? : )

5) Surprising Service. This is not surprising actually. As a premium priced product with adult-priced tickets at close to $30 each, you will need to offer great value and delight your customers. Make your customers feel like VIPs and pamper them to the nth degree. If they have kids, give their loved ones balloons or little candies to sweeten the experience. You will be surprised how the little touches matter.

6) Create a Community of Flyers. Look at how to create buzz and Word Of Mouth effects so that they will pull their friends, families and associates to the Singapore Flyer. Launch a blog and get your staff to share what happens behind the scenes. Get people interested to extend their relationship with you over the long term instead of just a one-ride-experience.

Well, I wish Singapore Flyer all the best in the years to come, and hope that they can add much needed colour and vibrancy to Singapore. Any views to share?

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