A Japanese airline is looking to revive the tourism industry with a mystery holidays via a vending machine.
Like many industries, travel has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic. With case numbers finally settling in Japan, Peach Aviation came up with an innovative idea to encourage people to hop on one of its planes – letting a gachapon capsule choose the destination for you.
While these vending machines usually dispense small toys for children, the Osaka-based budget airline has used them to sell return tickets from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport or Osaka’s Kansai International to a number of mystery locations along its domestic flight routes, including Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Naha.
The plan was initially met with scepticism by some in the company, believing that ‘promoting trips where travellers can’t choose the destination probably wouldn’t fly. We were thinking that it would be alright if we could sell one capsule per day,’ Shuntaro Kosasa, brand manager at Peach’s branding and communication department, told The Japan Times.
‘Yet the gachapon suddenly became hot [through social media] and we are really surprised.’
The airline has already sold more than 3,000 capsules in around two months, with 150 once sold in a single day. They cost ¥5,000 (£32) each and contain a code awarding points towards the purchase of a ticket, with most customers receiving 6,000 points or more. The first machine’s popularity has seen a second one spawned in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
‘Depending on the distance, it could be hit or miss, but it’s kind of exciting to let (the machine) decide the location and travel there. I think this is a really interesting idea,’ said Atsushi Osawa, a resident from Kanagawa Prefecture who recently bought gachapon and ended up travelling to Memanbetsu Airport in Ozora, northeast Hokkaido.