Last year, I was chatting with somebody from BC Ferries, and I asked why they didn’t offer internet access on their ships. I figured the service represented a big, luscious money tree for them.
Consider this math: you convince just 30 passengers per sailing to pay an average of $8 (maybe it’s regularly priced at $10, but there are subscription plans to reduce the price). That’s $240 per sailing. There are about 20 sailings a day on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route. That’s $2400 a day. Adjusting for fewer sailings in winter, that’s maybe $750,000 a year, per route.
How much does such a system cost to put in place? Surely not more than $750,000. So that’s easy money–at least $1.5 million a year in new revenue for the two major routes–after the first year.
Here’s another way to look at the math. The ferry system carries 21 million passengers a year. If they can sell wifi access to just 0.05% of those people at $10 a head, they make more than $1 million in revenue a year. That’s back of the envelope math, but I’m intentionally low-balling the numbers.
I was pitching this math to my BC Ferries friend, and they readily admitted (and unintentionally punned), “yeah, we missed the boat on that entirely”.
When we lived in Victoria and traveled to Vancouver nearly every other week, I’d have spent a small fortune on wireless internet access. That is until the iPhone’s tethering feature became available. It was truly a game-changer for my commuting time.
And it’s made BC Ferries’ announcement of free wi-fi on ferries more or less redundant. I’ll have to test drive the speed of their free service later in the summer. What are the odds that it’ll be much faster than tethering with my iPhone?
Manis and Pedis Ain’t Free
Wireless Internet is the latest in a series of up-scale service announcements for the ferry corporation, which has already created a new travel wing Ã¢â‚¬â€ B.C. Ferries Vacations Ã¢â‚¬â€ as well as in-ship spa service, offering pedicures, manicures and massages. The spa service has been Ã¢â‚¬Å“really well-received by our customersÃ¢â‚¬Â and will continue on limited runs, Thursday through Monday, on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, said Marshall.
A manicure is $30, and a pedicure is $40, but they’re offering wi-fi for free? That’s also a little puzzling. I could see lots of business customers paying (and expensing) the wi-fi.
The cynical traveler might speculate that they’re offering it for free so that they don’t have to guarantee quality of service. Who can complain if they lose a service that they’ve been receiving for free.
Which would you rather pay for on the ferry: wifi or a mani-pedi?