Market for green premium II

Airlines are in the business of transporting people around. Or maybe it’s about curating and creating the best experience in air travel? Or about building a brand? Or is it about bringing people to places and catalysing activities, businesses for locations that would otherwise be overlooked by travellers? Seen that way, the fuel cost of an airline would always be considered a cost. Therefore, to keep cost low, or deliver the greatest profits, the airline will see their fuel as a commodity.

What if the choice of fuel they use starts impacting the customer segments they are targeting or they can serve? What if using sustainable aviation fuel allows them to attract more premium customers? What if they could sell their air tickets at a higher price when they are demonstrably emitting less carbon dioxide? And what if doing so also help them comply with some ICAO requirements?

The market for green premium turns various cost parameters in businesses into a tool for something else. There’s an opportunity to use these new parameters to disrupt the business. Years ago, the low-cost carrier disrupted some of the most traditional airline businesses. Would a low-carbon carrier do the same? What other elements of the whole airline business can be refashioned to fit the whole sustainable, low-carbon identity?

Fly Away

Blogging from a nanotechnology laboratory in Illinois isn’t exactly what I envisioned for my post-ORD trip but reality often strikes us in the most awkward ways. Dressed in a white lab coat and a safety goggle, I shall share with you my holiday experience thus far:

Life was getting boring in hot and humid Singapore. I have just finished my national service in January. Most of my peers decided to find employment, before the start of their university term, to earn some money and to use their time “productively”. I use “” because productivity is a subjective term; while others may think spending their time at work and slogging their guts out for their employer is more rewarding than rotting at home, I think using this time for personal development by broadening your horizons and discovering yourself is far more valuable than being stuck at the work desk. Hence, I decided to venture overseas to move outside of my comfort zone and explore independent living in a foreign country.

My journey has brought me to many places. I admired the skyscrapers of Chicago, walked the streets of Times Square, and relaxed in the slow pace of life in Illinois. Saint Augustine once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page”. So don’t stay at home. Go far away and immerse yourself in another culture of life. Get inspired in another environment. Lose your stress and worries in your new home. And take some time to organize your life.

I hope to come back with renewed vigor and a focused attitude on life. Won’t you say this is a better substitute than sitting at a work desk?

Impersonal travel

Not here!

I write this time on something less relevant to my usual muses about politics, the environment, geography or economics, as I leave for India tomorrow and wont be writing until April. I was trying very hard to find inspiration to write something different or something I’d feel passion for, but I did not find any in The Straits Times or this week’s The Economist. Instead, I found an article about travel on Financial Times. In their Travel column, Sophy Roberts writes about how tourism and travel nowadays is all about the crowds: plenty of people thronging the same sights as you, making the place feel very impersonal and leaving you with a bad impression and aftertaste.

Roberts writes about her own experiences in Venice and somewhere closer to home: Angkor Wat. All these tourist hotspots are becoming too popular and visited by too many people that many times when you visit a place what you see there most of the time is people and not so much the real place of interest. Tourism is pretty much a commercial concept, of course, but it seems to have become too commercial and too popular. The clamour towards the middle class has also unleashed this attitude or desire to see the world and experience what it’s like outside, which is not bad unless thousands of others think like you and wish to do the same.

Even I am guilty of having this desire to see the world and travel to everywhere and anywhere I can. My passion as a geographer developed very much as a result of and with the desire to see the world beyond Singapore. And it is important to travel outside of your home country to experience the diversity of cultures. It’s just sad that many of these tourist places have now become too saturated with unfettered tourists, especially during peak season, that it just taints your experience or could even destroy the whole beauty of travelling around.

I wonder if I were in the writer’s shoes, would I have done what she did, to fork out that kind of money to get exclusive access to less-crowded places. Personally, I have visited places that I felt would have been beautiful were it not for the huge crowds, especially in China. When I visited Hainan Island twice in 2006, the beaches that I visited were actually really beautiful places, but the whole picture was tainted by the tremendous numbers of tourists like myself who wanted a piece of the place. And in my plans for future travel, I keep thinking about visiting places that are not saturated with tourists, but then I would not be able to keep within my tight budgets if I were to really backpack across Malaysia.

Then again, for some tourist attractions, it is the tremendous number of people there that gives you the vibe and excitement. Kuta Beach in Bali, when I visited in 2008, was not that crowded but I think I might have felt the holiday mood more if there were more beachgoers and more surfers around. I sure hope that when I visit the Taj Mahal in India, I will not have to fight with the crowds to take a photo of this Wonder of the World.

The writer ends by saying that “cliche… has long been an intrinsic part of tourism”. Maybe.