Most people like chancing their luck now and then. Low-cost Japanese airline Peach is tapping into that by offering bundles of frequent flyer points from vending machines they have installed in business districts around Japan.
Peach is selling mystery flights via vending machines in Osaka and Tokyo. Photo: Airbus
Mystery flight sales from vending machine take off for Peach
Gachapon vending machines are big in Japan. Normally they dispense small toys and novelty gear without much value. Peach is swapping the toys for bundles of frequent flyer points to take you to a specific destination.
Like any lucky dip-style vending machine, where you go for your money is entirely random – and that’s the appeal. Peach decides where you’ll fly – in this sense it’s like an old-style mystery flight. The twist is in how the mystery flight is sold.
Peach is based in Osaka and installed the first Peach vending machine in that city’s business district in August. The airline hoped to sell one seat a day via its vending machine but has sold 3,000 since August and up to 150 per day.
A report in Vice says each customer pays the local currency equivalent of US$$44 and receives $53 worth of frequent flyer points. The prospective customer gets a piece of paper with a code written on it. It’s all nicely packaged up in a purple ball (or “capsule” to use the appropriate jargon).
The passenger then goes onto Peach’s website to book their flight, paying with the points the code delivers. Vice cites Peach’s Shuntaro Kosasa saying the airline doesn’t make much money from the vending machine, but it generates buzz.
“Not only is it new, there’s stimulation from the excitement of not knowing which destination you’d get. It was time to do something fun,” said Shuntaro Kosasa.
“The gachapon suddenly became hot through social media, and we were really surprised.”
What’s inside the purple ball? A coupon with your destination and the points to pay for it. Photo: Peach
Peach drums up brand awareness
The Osaka vending machine went so well Peach has rolled out another in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Apparently, there was a queue to buy a capsule.
“Depending on the distance, it could be hit and miss,” one person in the queue told The Japan Times. “But it is kind of exciting to let the machine decide the location and travel there. I think this is a really interesting idea.
The Japan Times report says the Osaka machine offered 13 routes from Kansai Airport, and the newer Shibuya machine was offering 11 routes from Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
Like most airlines, the last 18 months has hit Peach hard. But Peach and other Japanese airlines have tapped into the country’s sometimes quirky popular culture to keep the public engaged with the airline brands.
Peach says the vending machines have proved very popular with customers. Photo: Airbus
Various airlines have wheeled out variations on mystery flights or scenic flights. There have been speed dating flights, duty-free shopping flights, and weekend away flights.
Peach recently said it would be putting on sale a total of 150 unlimited flight passes, valid on all of its 33 domestic routes, with prices starting at the equivalent of $173.
That’s not much money for Peach, but it does focus attention on the airline, and that attention can translate into ticket sales.
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