A Japanese budget airline has come up with a unique method of attracting more passengers amidst pandemic travel uncertainty by selling flights out of vending machines and not revealing the destination until the customer has already parted with their cash.
Peach Aviation, an Osaka-based low-cost carrier, has tapped into the Japanese love for gashapon vending machines with a unique marketing campaign that has quickly turned into a smash hit.
Since quietly launching its first gashapon machine in Osaka back in August, Peach has already sold thousands of capsules that contain the name of a surprise destination plus Peach points that can be used towards the cost of the flight.
Gashapon machines can be found in huge numbers across Japan and normally sell collectable toys, figurines and small models inside plastic capsules. They can quickly become addictive because users set out to collect a set from the gashapon but what they get is random.
The Peach gashapon in Osaka quickly became popular on social media and the airline decided to launch a second machine in the frenetic Shibuya district of Tokyo.
The success initially took Peach by surprise. Speaking with the Japan Times (subscription required), the airline’s brand manager Shuntaro Kosasa said they thought they would be lucky if they sold just one capsule a day.
“Yet the gashapon suddenly became hot through social media and we are really surprised,” Kosasa said.
So far, Peach has sold more than 3,000 capsules at ¥5,000 (US $44) ago. Each capsule contains the name of a surprise destination within the airline’s domestic Japanese network along with points that can be used towards the cost of a flight.
Most capsules contain points worth ¥6,000 but some come with bonus points as well. Destinations on offer include Sapporo, Osaka, Okinawa and Ishigaki.
Peach intends to keep its Gashapon in place until the end of December 2021 but the airline is already eyeing up other locations if the idea really takes off.
Photo: Change TV Production / Shutterstock.com
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.