Transportation Can Be Fun, Not an Ugly Necessity

Evgeny Klochikhin
Jun 14 · 4 min read

Mobility is often spoken of in dispassionate terms. If you want to get ice cream from the shop at the corner, you have to get there first. You don’t really care how this happens, either. As long as the trip is not actively annoying and you get your two scoops at the end, the rest is immaterial.

We see mobility as a point A to point B process and pay little attention to the means. It’s a necessity, and a rather boring one at that. This mindset doesn’t have to dominate our evaluation of modes of transportation, however. The trip itself, whether it’s to work or to a local hiking trail, can be part of an enjoyable experience. We can look forward to the drive just as much as the destination, and we don’t have to reinvent mobility to do it.

Repackaging transportation as part of an experience isn’t a new concept. Just ask any limousine driver how much fun their passengers have. But the daily commute, the trip to the grocery store or the coffee shop, they can be reinvented as well. Not as a luxury experience, but as a polished-up necessity we enjoy in the same way we appreciate well-seasoned food.

Necessities vs Niceties

We can organize our spending habits into two broad categories: necessities and niceties. The former includes bills, taxes, healthcare, food, rent, etc. The latter is essentially everything else, all of the things we do to make our lives more enjoyable. Entertainment is a large part of this, and it’s as crucial to our happiness as having a roof over our heads.

Most people handle the necessities category with a resigned grumble. But the niceties, the just-for-fun purchases, those we dive into with eager. We’re also happy to leverage entertainment value to modify our necessities. Our need for food doesn’t extend beyond nutrients and calories, yet we still seek out fancy restaurants for the experiences they offer in conjunction with those necessities.

This needs-entertainment dichotomy holds true for transportation. Being mobile is a necessity, but the means we employ to get from point A to point B is up to us. We generally don’t care if we get to the ice cream shop via scooter, bike, or rideshare service, just like we don’t care if our bills are paid using a paper check or online bill pay. The cars we buy are similarly utilitarian. They have become machines we use to get where we’re going. They can be augmented with luxury features such as a better stereo system, but that doesn’t change the fundamental conception of a car as a tool.

Emotional Attachments

People are more eager to spend money on fun things than necessities. How much would you pay for a cone at that ice cream shop around the corner? Not a lot, most likely. When you’re on vacation with the smell of sand and sea at your back, you might pay twice as much for the same product, however. Your experience there is different, and that’s worth a premium.

Blind loyalty to certain car brands used to be a defining feature of the automotive industry. We still see people talk about their favorite companies today, but the average driver is four times as likely to make their next purchase from a different manufacturer as they were a few decades ago. The emotional bond to vehicle brands is waning, and with it the emotional experience we used to associate with travel.

Building an attachment to the means of transportation will kick off a spending revolution. We won’t buy cars or invest in ridesharing services because we have to, we’ll do it because we want to, and we’ll do it in the same way that we buy ice cream on vacation. This emotional bond will connect mobility to the destination to make every trip an enjoyable experience from the moment we roll out of bed.

Rethinking the Fun in Mobility

Repackaging transportation as part of an experience isn’t a new concept. Just ask any limousine driver how much fun their passengers have. But the daily commute, the trip to the grocery store or the coffee shop, they can be reinvented as well. Not as a luxury experience, but as a polished-up necessity we enjoy in the same way we appreciate well-seasoned food.

Adding DVD players or better sound systems isn’t the key to this evolution. They allow passengers to remain distracted, but it doesn’t fundamentally alter the experience of the trip itself. Plus, the driver does not directly benefit from these additions, they still have to deal with traffic, navigation, and so on.

To kick off this shift in thinking, we should first look towards removing the drudgery involved in transportation, allowing people to see what parts of mobility they can enjoy on their own. Some of these less-enjoyable features include the stress getting stuck in traffic or of finding a parking spot. How many times have you avoided going out because you knew you’d have to circle the block a few times before you could park? Removing these frustrations alone will make the journey far more rewarding.

The slow march towards automation is also working to replace some of these stressors. Sensors assist drivers by removing some of their moment to moment burdens. Full automation will eventually replace the driver’s attention altogether. Parkofon, too, is working to eliminate the hassles of finding parking spots in crowded cities. Cut out these frustrations and suddenly getting from point A to point B is actually kind of fun.

If we enjoy the drive and have an emotional attachment to transportation as a nicety, we’re more likely to invest in mobility means themselves. Every trip will be something to look forward to, regardless of where we end up. The cliché phrase “Are we there yet?” will fall out of use, as getting there will be just as fun as arriving.

Predict

where the future is written

Evgeny Klochikhin

Written by

Evgeny Klochikhin, PhD is the CEO of Parkofon, a smart mobility company building a fully connected #MaaS platform. Innovation scholar, data scientist, engineer.

Predict

Predict

where the future is written