I have decided to forsake markets, economics and the great recession this week. It’s August, and the northern hemisphere is starting its month-long holiday, so I am turning my attention to matters of vacations.
This week I noticed German airline Lufthansa has started selling holiday airfares that guarantee sunshine. Buying one of their special sunshine fares means you are eligible for a payment of ?20 for every day it rains while you are at your destination.
The small print says there has to be at least 5mm of rain, which my colleagues at the CNN weather center tell me is actually quite a lot of water!
Insuring against the weather is nothing new. Skiers have insured against not having enough snow for years. Organizers of outdoor events will often take out a policy against the costs of having the event washed out. But this is the first time I have heard of a general policy paying out if the sun doesn’t shine!
I am one of those people who truly can be called a sun worshipper. The first hint of bad weather causes a very dark cloud to form over my head. I am likely to become grumpy at the prospect of the loss of a day on the beach. When I was on holiday in Sydney once I spent hours telephoning the met office wanting to know when a summer storm was going to pass over, almost pleading, as if they had any control over it. But even I can’t see much point in this policy.
You are on holiday, the sun isn’t shining and the rain is falling. There isn’t much you can do about it other than find something else to do, and knowing you are getting a whole ?20 in return is not going to make a lot of difference.
Practically, ?20 per person may help pay the cost of taking the kids to some ridiculously overpriced indoor attraction that you’d hoped to avoid. Or it will buy some coloring books and toys to keep them quiet. But have we really become so pathetic that we can’t simply say: “Hey the sun didn’t shine but I had a good holiday anyway? I read a book, went to a museum and watched how the locals live.
It doesn’t have to relate to the weather either. In the past, travel companies have been prepared to throw in subjective factors, like did you enjoy the experience? In 2004, British Airways ran a sleep guarantee marketing campaign. They promised a future First Class upgrade if you didn’t get a good night sleep on the red-eye flight to London.
I can well see that in the future insurance policies will be sold to stressed executives that pay out if you don’t come home relaxed. Or how about a policy that pays out if a baby is sitting within five rows of you in business class? Or a policy that pays out when you do not get upgraded . the possibilities for this racket are endless.
What this all comes down to is the fact that risk and life go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Sometimes the natural vicissitudes of life have to be allowed to take their course. In these cases, surely the test becomes what you do when the rain pours; not whether you get a pay-out because of it.
Tune in toRichard Quest each weekday at 9 pm Cairo, 9 pm Kuwait, 9 pm Riyadh, 10 pm Dubai on Quest Means Business. www.cnn.com/qmb