Turning an airborne disaster into triumph
How adversity can be the mother of invention
It was designed to usher in a whole new era of air travel.
And so it did.
But not quite in the way that was intended.
It was the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin who built the first rigid-framed airship, LZ-1, in 1899.
But it was the gigantic hydrogen-fuelled Hindenburg — or to give it its official title LZ-129 Hindenburg — that represented the pinnacle of airship technology.
Not merely the most technologically advanced, the Hindenburg was also the biggest of the airships: a veritable leviathan of the skies at 804 feet long, or more than three times the length of a Boeing 747, it was the largest aircraft ever built.
In fact, it still is.
The Hindenburg was also regarded as the last word in luxury air travel with its 72 passenger beds, heated cabins, a silk-lined dining room, lounge, writing room, bar, smoking room, and promenades with windows that could be opened on the flight itself.
The furniture was constructed from a special lightweight aluminium and the smoking room protected by a double airlock to prevent the flammable hydrogen that filled the giant dirigible from entering.
It had flown 63 times, could reach cruising speeds of 76 mph and a maximum speed of 84 mph. with most of those flights Atlantic crossings from Germany with its promotional blurb proudly proclaiming: ‘Across the ocean in two days’.
It was an airborne disaster just waiting to happen as it approached Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey on May 6th 1937.
On that fateful May evening, the Hindenburg exploded in a massive fireball, reduced to ashes in just 34 seconds. Of the 97 people on board, 62 survived.
Most famously, the tragedy was immortalised by Herbert Morrison’s eyewitness radio account in the words: ‘Oh, the humanity!’
Ambitious plans to build more airships were abruptly shelved both due to the disaster itself and to the fact that fixed-wing aircraft could carry just as much and fly faster while being cheaper and needing fewer crew.
And thus the aeroplane, as we know it today, took off.
Fast forward to the present day and yet another crisis.
And one, coincidentally, that’s also airborne.
Another opportunity to demonstrate that adversity, and so necessity, really can be the mother of invention.
As we all know, the process of selling cars is, and always has been, much like the Hindenburg itself, slow, cumbersome and laborious.
Even without the trappings of a silk-lined showroom, the overheads, too, can be daunting.
But, while lockdown has compelled us to do less, it’s also compelled us to find ingenious ways to sell more.
With showroom doors closed, there’s been a necessary shift towards digital solutions that can help customers to become more comfortable with purchasing vehicles online.
Apart from that convivial cappuccino, all the benefits of the showroom experience can be brought right into the customer’s living room helping customers to buy vehicles more quickly and easily.
And so, of course, to buy more of them too.
Customers can navigate the entire process of buying their chosen vehicle online. They can part exchange, add any optional extras, such as service plans, apply for finance, place a deposit and arrange collection or delivery.
Retailers can give customers complete control by letting them reserve a vehicle wherever they happen to be, helping them keep their order book topped up.
They can market their vehicles direct to their customers too, creating multiple quotes on different vehicles to send straight to a customer’s inbox.
All the research indicates that this trend will be at the forefront of a ‘new normal’ once lockdown is, happily, a distant memory.
Of course, there’ll never really be a substitute for the welcoming smile, hearty handshake or that convivial cappuccino.
But those retailers who can offer the flexible combination of on the web and in the showroom will flourish. Because, in a world where we’re all increasingly ‘time poor’, these online solutions are very much here to stay, enabling a quicker, more efficient way for customers to purchase the vehicle of their choice.
They’re great news for car buyers and for retailers too.
After all, who wants to go back to selling less cars?
Or spending two whole days flying across the ocean.
Discover new ways to sell
By harnessing our digital solutions you can bring all the benefits of your showroom experience right into your customers’ living rooms making it easy for customers to buy your vehicles online anytime, anywhere. Find out more or book a demo online here: www.codeweavers.net/shift-towards-digital/