Last week, we travelled to Hamburg to attend Passenger Experience Week, one of Europe’s biggest gatherings on everything related to how you as a passenger will experience travelling. During three days we dove in the world of aviation, airports, inflight entertainment and much more.
One of the biggest topics of the Passenger Experience Conference, which was held during PEW, was the extended customer journey. Often now the “customer journey” stops when travellers board the plane and starts again when they leave the plane. Thanks to better onboard connectivity, more options are available to continue the customer journey during your flight.
The main idea? Rethink everything. Airlines have to change the concept of how people perceive flying. The time on an airline should be considered as time well spent, which can be achieved by allowing passengers to use devices and applications as if they are in their living room.
Anaïs Marzo da Costa, Head of Aircraft Interiors Marketing at Airbus, told us how the European aircraft builder is working on a multi-screen inflight entertainment system, in which travellers can bring their own device. By 2025, Airbus expects that 23,100 aircrafts will be equipped with inflight connectivity.
Aside from all things related to what passengers (will be able to) do themselves, Airbus and many others at the show were talking about IoT, as non-critical elements in the cabin will become more and more connected, they too will enjoy the benefits that flight-critical parts of the aircraft already had. Think of preventative maintenance, usage monitoring and so on. An example could be that the overhead bins are equipped with sensors that allow crew at the gate to see that they better start advising people to check their luggage in, as the bins are filling up. You could even imagine having the ability to book a spot in the overhead bin so you can rest assured.
But airlines will also have the opportunity to sell more ancillaries on board. In the past airlines saw travellers as the perfect audience to sell (duty-free) objects to, whereas now this narrative is shifting towards offering inflight digital solutions too. People have time to kill on an airplane, so airlines can start to sell services. Examples are booking a taxi or renting a car, looking at the opening hours of restaurants the night of your arrival or planning other activities for your trip.
Another thing mentioned by Marzo da Costa is the fragmentation of the ecosystem. There are over 60 airlines - it’s impossible for travellers to download all their applications. It’s the same problem that Jeremy Drury, Director Digital at Star Alliance, is facing. Star Alliance, one of the world's largest global airline alliances, is researching how they can harmonize these applications in favor of the passengers.
The role of organisations such as Star Alliance, Drury said, is to bring together different types of data and offer that information to airlines so they can implement it in their app. A far-distance trip usually consists of different stops, airports and even airlines to get a passenger to its destination. Having a great passenger experience through all of those different stops is very hard to find now, that’s why Star Alliance is bringing together all types of data so passengers can find that information centralized in their go-to mobile application.