Collaboration Is Key To Advancing The Passenger Experience

05 Apr 2016 15:00

5th April, 2016 - The essential need for collaboration in innovation between airlines, their passengers and suppliers was highlighted at the Passenger Experience Conference which took place yesterday (4 April) at the CCH – Congress Centre in Hamburg.

The Passenger Experience Conference marked the start of Passenger Experience Week in Hamburg, which today sees the opening of the 17th annual Aircraft Interiors Expo and the 5th Edition of World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo with which it is co-located.

In the opening remarks of the Conference, Jason Chua from A3 by Airbus Group set the tone, encouraging some 400 delegates from airlines, suppliers, designers and the media to look at the passenger experience from a 30,000 feet view. The bigger picture of innovation will ultimately enable new technologies and experiences to be introduced in flight, allowing for greater personalisation and more opportunities for revenue generation.

Chua stated that the challenge comes in bringing this approach to economy class, with manufacturers looking to create products that disrupt and evolve the in-flight experience, whilst airlines are under pressure to continually boost revenue as well as meet consumer demand for cheap flights. However, across all classes of travel, the personalisation of the inflight experience is creating ever-increasing potential for revenue generation.

The opening address concluded with a Q&A with representatives from across the passenger experience sector, including STG Aerospace, JPA Design, Boeing Seat Integration Team and AIM Attitude. This highlighted the need for collaboration outside of silos, which stretches across all elements of companies and with their customers. These collective views help companies form a clearer and stronger vision, helping them create product offering that more clearly meets a customer airline’s priorities.

Three breakout sessions then took place, focusing on: cabin interiors, space and comfort, inflight entertainment and connectivity and hospitality, retail and service.

The cabin interiors, space and comfort session revealed how design in seating has the potential to not only transform the passenger experience, but also create new revenue savings for airlines. Bombardier demonstrated this by looking at how one solution can address comfort and safety in the cabin. Acumen showcased experience gained from the development of two of their seat concepts. One of which was specifically designed to address seven common passenger gripes: shoulder space, arm rests, unpredictable meal space, lack of head support, aisle access, seat pitch and sense of personal space and privacy.

With three billion passenger flights taking place each year currently, and with this set to increase to five billion in the next 20 years, the session showed how airlines don’t have to choose between brand experience and cost - it’s just about being smart innovators with space and layout.

In the inflight entertainment and connectivity session, Immfly addressed what it described as the missing piece of the puzzle that airlines are asking for - inflight connectivity, with a key benefit for airlines of inflight connectivity being on board e-commerce.

Airline Trends guided delegates through digital innovation in the home, and explored how these can then be implemented in the aircraft. They described the increasing demand for airlines to produce a seamless experience and ‘digital ecosystems’ for passengers, with apps and remote device integration being key to this.

Moving on from service to content, Global Eagle Entertainment revealed the extent of the huge growth in content and content types such as movies and TV. The use of subscription media in particular, such as Netflix and Amazon, is growing hugely. This is affecting passenger’s needs inflight, given that 71% of smartphone users now stream content to their phones. This has resulted in a new trend where data capture and analysis are two of the key drivers of smart personalisation.

The hospitality, service and retail breakout session looked at how retail on board can continue to be relevant to today’s flyer. Pragma Consulting took the audience on a journey through the history of retail, before demonstrating that retail is now about the brand, not the store. Airlines now need to engage with passengers to turn them into consumers through availability of relevant products and on board technology such as apps, which enable them to browse and purchase.

Speaking from an airline’s perspective in a case study presentation, Alitalia looked at how crew and the retail service needs to evolve from the impersonal communications they currently use. In empowering staff through training camps and feedback sessions, crew interaction has been evolved to surpass digital engagement and enhance brand perception.

The day then closed with a talk from Leaders in Innovation, featuring senior executives from ViaSat, Aer Lingus, SITAONAIR. Key comments included that from Viasat, explaining that they believe the industry is reaching a tipping point where embedded IFE is no longer essential on long haul aircraft as sufficiently high satellite bandwidth allows passengers to use their personal devices.

More than ever, passengers want and need reliable inflight Wi-Fi rather than passenger apps, and this needs to be reinforced by loyalty programmes and products that serve individual needs.

Katie Murphy, Senior Event Director of Aircraft Interiors Expo, said: “Collaboration is key to creating a truly connected journey. The high profile attendees and industry analysis at this conference sets the agenda for the passenger experience industry, and are truly a reflection of the exciting times and innovations ahead.”

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About The Passenger Experience Conference
Defining the future of the passenger experience industry, the Passenger Experience Conference is the leading global conference and networking forum delivering content, driving innovation and developing connections to transform your business.

About Aircraft Interiors Expo
Aircraft Interiors Expo is the world's largest event dedicated to sourcing the latest innovations, technologies and products for the cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and passenger comfort industries. Taking place in Hamburg from 5-7 April 2016 the exhibition attracts thousands of buyers and decision makers from major scheduled, regional and charter airlines and offers the opportunity to meet face to face with suppliers and manufacturers covering the full spectrum of the industry.

About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with over 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together over seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.  

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