Buy three (or more) flight pass codes for $6.50 each, and sell them for more to passengers on the flight.

I like little exercises like this (like when I hacked a Vegas cab line), because being a salesperson is uncomfortable. Creating value can be a scary, anxiety ridden process. You have to talk to people you don't know, who aren't expecting to talk to you, and often whose first reaction isn't welcoming. You have to overcome all these obstacles and get them to see the value you're bringing.

That's why while making $20 off a couple of passes isn't a material amount of money, it's very material in the skills you need to use and hone to sell other, more expensive services or goods.

The problems you face selling a $15 flight pass are the same as those you'd face selling a more expensive product or service. For example:

  1. How do you identify your target market? Not everyone will want to have wifi on the flight. One good way to do this would be to approach people who are on their laptops in the Virgin waiting areas -- they're likely to want to continue having service in the air.
  2. How do you reach your target market? You have to get to them before they purchase a Gogo pass at the higher price once in the air. So maybe you sell it to people while they're waiting to board the flight. But if they're smart (they probably won't be), they'll be able to procure the passes themselves, because they'll still have wifi access at the airport.
  3. How do you overcome sales objections? How do you convince passengers that these pass codes will work? Do you offer a money-back guarantee?
  4. How do you upsell the customer once you've nabbed the initial sale? Why just sell them one pass code? If they've agreed to buy one, it's likely they'll have another Virgin flight before Jan 3rd. Give them a package deal -- one for $15 (or whatever you can sell it for), two for $25 or three for $30.
  5. How do you distribute the product? Are you giong to print the pass codes out and hand them to people who buy? That's a marketing opportunity in itself. Maybe you find a startup willing to pay you to put their brand on the pass slip. After all, this is a computer-carrying, geeky customer base you're targeting.
  6. How do you handle returns? What if the pass doesn't work, through no fault of your own? Do you allow returns? How does someone contact you if there's a problem?
  7. How do you expand on the opportunity? Is there a way to buy 100 or 1,000 of these passes, and then resell them in a more efficient manner? What if you went to the airport every day for the time period these passes are valid and tried to sell them at the Virgin counter? Is there a way to reach potential buyers electronically without ever having to see them in person? If you figure you can likely make an average of $6 in profit per pass, and you could sell 1,000 of them, then you're talking about a more meaningful amount of money

It's a great exercise to get you thinking as an entrepreneur. The value is there, all you have to do is sell it.

If anyone tries this over the holidays, I'd love for you to take a video of your efforts using SocialCam and post it in a comment below. Is anyone up to the challenge? Here's a deal I'll make: If at least one person commits to do it in the comments below, then I too will give it a shot on a Virgin flight I'm taking in December, and I'll post my results in a video.

Bonus #1: See if you can actually sell the pass for more than Virgin charges on the flight, and have the customer be happy to pay it. One idea: Bundling. You offer the pass + some other high margin product (where your cost is low) for, say $20.

Bonus #2: See if you can sell pass codes in bulk. Can you convince anyone to become a reseller of yours, and you sell him/her the pass codes for $9 each, and let that person do the legwork of actually selling them to passengers? Then you can sit back and watch your profits roll in :)