Competitiveness is not only a matter of products’ price. It depends a lot on quality and services. A recent note from the Conseil d’Analyse Economique, which regroups economists in an small think tank attached to the French prime minister, emphasized this issue (the note is not in English yet)
In this post, I just want to describe my recent experience.
Last week I was, first, in Singapore and then in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong I’ve seen a very interesting service for the traveler specifically for long distance travelers. At Central Station, in the middle of the town, you can check-in your trip and drop your luggages. They will be transferred to the airport. You will take them back only when you will be at your airport of destination. The traveler has just his cabin luggage with him when he goes to the airport. He can then avoid stairs in the metro with his too heavy and too large suitcases. When he takes the shuttle to the airport it is 24 minutes with only 2 stops. The shuttle is dedicated to travelers.
For a city that wishes to be perceived as international and wishes to improve its image and its activity, it is important to have the simplest access to the airport, it will be part of its attractiveness. Products can find substitutes all over the world but the difference will come from services. Hong Kong has clearly understood this issue. In an open world with large possibilities of substitution, the traveler must wish to come in a specific place, instead he will go elsewhere. The access to transport can be a major source of discrimination.
I’m not sure that this issue is clearly understood in France at a moment where ambitious projects are discussed. These projects will be a success only if investors want to come and visitors wish to visit. There is still a long way to go. The Grand Paris which discuss the global framework of Paris and its neighborhood must take important measures to simplify the way to come to Paris and to reinforce the attractiveness of the French capital. This necessary step to improve competitiveness has still to be taken in order to improve activity and jobs prospects for the long term.