I just came across an interesting business model. A model that has been around for some time, but this is of “new age” type. It’s a website that gives you the chance to have dinner with celebrities. Now this is interesting for many reasons. As students of the ever growing complex business world, I feel there are some insights and tit bits that we can learn, and perhaps apply in a different way in our businesses.
Its called IfOnly (www.ifonly.com), a website whose caption is “Extra Ordinary Experiences For Good”. In short, in this website, you get the chance of life time to be with celebrities on a very important event (like the launch of a movie) or a private one (like have a one to one dinner, etc), for a price. The site features, westerns actors, musician, sportsmen- and interestingly even Bollywood stars, as well- like Amitabh Bachan and Salman Khan!
Now the point I am making is not that you have a site, where you can pay to dine or celebrate with a star. But how new business models are evolving. In this case, its about next encashment of the celebrity status of some people.
Why Celebrities? Proximity to celebrities (actors, artists, businessmen etc), is seen to add significant “satisfaction” to the customers. In fact, I read in a report, that is olden times, it was an honor to the Celebrity when powerful people (like Kings) gave them an audience. Like when Charles Dickens visited the United States in the nineteenth century, the President, John Tyler, hosted a reception for him at the White House; or when the famous Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind visited Vienna, in the same era, the imperial family invited her to give private concerts. But today, its kinda reversed. Today, we admire the people, who hang out with the celebrities, envying the power and accessibility that they have. For example, a reporter once told Barak Obama that her daughter probably imagined that the coolest aspect of Obama’s position was hanging out with Beyoncé and Jay Z. To this Obama replied that, that was what his own daughters too thought “cool” about his job!
The Opportunity? Well, I see many opportunities. Sharing the time of celebrities with others not only brings opportunities for making profits, but also supporting social causes, branding your business, learning & interaction opportunities and sometimes, even help create a strong customer loyalty- by buying that time for your customers!
I would love to hear your views on this. If you agree or disagree? What are the new models that can be introduced on similar lines? What are the ethical concerns that can arise? How it can be used for the societies benefit? Where can this go wrong? Possibilities of such initiatives in India? Who can be defined as “celebrities” in this kind of model? Your shot…