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Interview with Spaceship

Exclusive interview with:

Tommy James

General Manager of Spaceship ELITE Group

Held on 14.10.2016

Interview with Spaceship:

Two years have now passed since our last conversation with Tommy James, CEO of “Spaceship ELITE Group” and major changes have taken place in the well-known online matchmaking website in the Netherlands. That is why we use this opportunity to understand how it all turns out.

"To successfully find a partner, be it online or offline, it's important to get out of your comfort zone and actually connect with other people."

Good day Mr. Schiffers. Let's take a look at the latest happenings. In 2015, Spaceship and ElitePartner were united under one roof through sale to British financial investor Oakley Capital. How can you best express this event: partnership, merger, collaboration or merger?

Oakley Capital first acquired Spaceship GmbH and later EliteMedianet GmbH. In the beginning it was two companies under one roof. In early October 2016, we legally merged these two companies. The independence of the brands and services of Spaceship and ElitePartner remains unaffected. You can compare it with a car manufacturer that makes different brands for different target groups.

Like Daimler does with Mercedes and Smart. A good comparison. The two thus remain independent brands, even after ProSiebenSat.1 acquired them as one package and re-introduced them in Germany. Is that right?

Right! Spaceship and ElitePartner remain two separate brands. ProSiebenSat.1 and Oakley consider it an advantage to have under one roof two strong brands that are the market leaders in this industry. The two brands focus on different target groups and interests, each with its own understanding of what a relationship entails and its own way of offering.

Were Spaceship's brand changes in September an indication of this independence?

No, that was already planned. The decision to give a new look to the brand is only due to the changes in the current design. We had not made any major changes to our appearance for years and wanted to give the well-known Spaceship brand a fresh and modern look. Ultimately, we are the largest online shower cam platform in the Netherlands and want to confirm our strong position with a modern look. We launched the new logo in October in conjunction with our new campaign, which starts every fall.

From the outside, Spaceship appears as the go-to address for singles looking for a partner. But things converge in the background. Is that right? For example, general vacancies for “Spaceship ELITE Group” appear.

"PARSHIP ELITE Group" is the roof under which the two brands operate in the market. The services of Spaceship and Elite Partner with their own brand activities and member database will remain independent. However, there are also support functions such as human resources or IT, which are merged together. We therefore hire people who work for both brands of "PARSHIP ELITE Group". This is a fairly normal approach for a company that manages a few brands.

We are often asked by journalists and singles about the subtle differences between the target groups of Spaceship and ElitePartner. The singles from both platforms are cultured, educated and intelligent. What are the distinctive differences of these two brands? Is it the age average, or the search criteria?

There are, of course, many parallels between the two services. Spaceship and ElitePartner are the most successful and established companies in the German-speaking countries. They are both based on a scientific matchmaking system and are aimed at singles between the ages of 25 and 60 who are looking for a serious relationship.

These are the parables. And what are the differences?

What makes ElitePartner special is that, unlike other online partner shower cam providers, they only target highly educated singles who attach great importance to an active and inspiring lifestyle. The homogeneity of the membership is ensured by ElitePartner with the help of “face control”. This means that each member is manually checked after registration. At the moment ElitePartner rejects about one in four registrations because the profile does not match the internal service criteria such as appearance, style and level.

These are strict rules and certainly in the style of “face control”.

Naturally, Spaceship also checks the profiles and expects a serious and correct interaction between the members. Today Spaceship is by far the largest online shower cam service in Europe and the Netherlands. This means that Spaceship has the largest membership base and thus provides the greatest opportunity to meet the right person as follows.

Perhaps the choice of singles for Spaceship or ElitePartner can be compared to the choice of a specific bar. One person prefers a bar with "face control" where everyone has the same way of thinking. The other would prefer to go to a bar that is open to everyone and where you can meet different types of people. Both customers are looking for company and enjoy a nice drink in the right environment with the right people.

Another impressive comparison! How important is it to emphasize these differences now that the two shower cam platforms are no longer competing with each other in the conventional sense, but rather have been merged together?

We still think it's important to highlight the differences of these two services. Singles are not a homogeneous target group. There are different requirements and needs and the online shower cam provider must adapt accordingly. Therefore it is important to present both brands in a different way. Our goal is to strengthen the brand and product of Spaceship and ElitePartner.

We believe that in the future we will offer two products that always perform well, each in its own place. We want to offer singles the best opportunity to find a suitable partner. But Spaceship and ElitePartner also differ in essential aspects, such as in their appearance, impression and membership base. Because we offer both services under one roof, we can better cater to the different preferences of singles.

As an information and test portal, we are often approached as a mediator when conflicts arise between dating sites and users about certain topics. The large number of claims provides a good example that different points of view often emerge. In what areas would you like to have more transparency and understanding between Spaceship as a provider and the customers looking for a partner?

I think it is important to convey to our members that while we give a good chance of finding love, they should take it themselves. Both Spaceship and ElitePartner offer their members a scientific matchmaking system. Possible partners are introduced to each other who fit well together in terms of personality.

We believe we create the best conditions for singles to fall in love with. This principle only works if our members show their own initiative and dare to write to other members, arrange a meeting and then get to know each other in real life. And not just once, but as much as possible. To successfully find a partner, be it online or offline, it's important to get out of your comfort zone and actually reach out to other people. I think it is important to always be open to it, we as a shower cam provider and the customers as individuals, to let happiness and love blossom.

Some brands have made it so far that their names are synonymous with the entire industry: Tempo, Kleenex, Pampers, Nutella. Is the slogan “I'm Parshippen” in the Netherlands part of the vision where singles use “parshippen” when they mean “I'm dating online”?

That's a fun and fun question. Right, as the largest and best-known online shower cam platform in the Netherlands, it was of course our goal to capture a concept of this genre in our new language.

In the year 2014, we used the phrase “I'm parshipping now” for the first time in our campaign to encourage singles to take their happiness into their own hands. This strategy turned out to be perfectly correct. An average of 28,000 singles register with Spaceship every week. And the word "parshipping" is increasingly being used as a replacement for the word "online dating".

And what are the reactions to the current campaign?

Our campaign with the slogan “Only one falls in love with Spaceship every 11 minutes” still receives a lot of reactions from our target group. Our membership base is growing steadily and our campaign receives a lot of media attention, especially on social networks and also among the general population. In short, we are very satisfied. The first reactions to our autumn campaign with our new look are also positive and attract a lot of people.

Without a doubt, “I'm Parshipping Now” has become a source of inspiration for parodies and crude comments. Is this 'side effect' pleasant for you or an annoyance?

Any company that advertises knows that slogans are not always received the way they want. This is also the case with Spaceship. In any case, we are doing well and every attack is received well and bravely. Ultimately, our goal is to draw attention to our brand by saying “I'm parshipping now”. All of this has had a good effect on us. The many comments on the internet have led to a positive development of our business. And some of these gross comments and new versions of our slogan are really funny. “We're freaking out now” captioning a photo of a couple drinking is fun and very creative.

The Spaceship heart in the new logo is asymmetrical; one half is bigger than the other. What is the message of this logo? Different shapes hearts that live in harmony? Opposites attract?

This new symbol is a combination of a heart and a check mark. We have given this symbol a name, namely “love check mark”. The check mark represents a successful relationship that ends in a happy partnership. The heart perfectly matches our new slogan and the new look of our website. We have combined the concepts of emotion and rationality in this symbol to show that Spaceship represents these two important aspects. We provide love and happiness through our competent match system; this is the core of our dating site.

One thing is for sure, Spaceship is heading in the right direction. Can you tell us what the most exciting challenges are regarding the latest developments?

With the new composition of our company structure, we have an excellent basis for further development of our company and the two brands Spaceship and Elite partner. Under these circumstances, it is clear to us what the current and future plans are. We want to convince more people to join Spaceship through creative ideas and give the right approach to finding the perfect partner.

These challenges are indeed exciting, because we want to contribute to a better life and a better society. We believe that people are made to be together.

Dear Tommy James, thank you for the exclusive update! Since you often come up with something new, we hope we will see each other again soon. We wish you good luck with Spaceship.

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