CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

Air France and star chef Joël Robuchon partner with Foodora to promote their cuisine

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As the flag carrier of a country that prides itself on its culinary excellence, Air France in the past years has been creative in promoting its onboard cuisine.

Besides partnering with many Michelin star chefs (like many carriers do), the airline regularly invites a chef to join a flight to personally introduce a new menu to passengers in Business and First.

A few years ago, Air France also toured with a food truck around Manhattan handing out free samples of its inflight meals to the public.

Now, in an ‘on trend’ initiative that builds upon the popularity of food delivery services such as Foodora, Deliveroo, GrubHub and Uber EATS, Air France has launching the ‘Bon Appétit’ campaign in Montreal.

To coincide with the grand opening of his new L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant in Montreal, Joël Robuchon – known as the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world –  has partnered with Air France and delivery app Foodora to give Montreal residents the chance to have a free three course meal delivered directly to their homes.

The offer runs from 9 to 15 December 2016 and each day 10 menus are made available via Foodora. Those who want to order the gourmet menu have to use a discount code (BONAPPETIT) to have the 3 course meal – which is priced at CAD 95 – delivered for free. All dishes are prepared in the chef’s new restaurant which opened to the public on 7 December. Read full article »

Qantas lets lounge visitors order their coffee via their smartphone

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Taking a cue from Starbucks’ mobile ordering service, as well as fellow down-under airline Air New Zealand’s coffee ordering service, Qantas recently introduced a new service at its lounges across Australia that invites lounge visitors to order their barista-made coffee via their smartphone.

In an effort to offer peace of mind to busy travellers who have navigated traffic and queues at security before having to line up again in the lounge to get a barista-made coffee, Qantas has partnered with Skip, a free app that helps customers “skip the queue” by ordering and paying for coffee and food.

In the Qantas Clubs alone, baristas brew over 1,000 cups of tea and coffee every day. In an average week the Sydney Qantas Club sees the biggest demand for coffee, with 6am to 7am being the peak demand time.

The mobile ordering service has been available since July 2016 and the Skip app can be used to order coffee at Qantas Clubs and Business Lounges at Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney domestic airports.

Qantas passengers using the Skip app can also select the time they want to collect their coffee and receive a text message when their order is ready. In addition, touchscreens have been installed around the lounges so those who aren’t Skip users can order before walking up to the bar.

According to Skip general manager Bill Bizos during the soft launch most people preferred downloading the app to using kiosks. Read full article »

KLM adds passenger reviews and ratings to flight search results

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Recently, a growing number of online travel agents and airlines have partnered with third-party data providers TripAdvisor and Routehappy to help customers learn more about the quality of their flight.

By sharing candid details of the passenger experience airlines could move beyond commodity pricing and beyond competition solely on fares, instead giving customer fact-based metrics about their products which would justify a higher fare.

There is an important precedent for this change in consumer mindset in the hospitality sector. Today’s informed and savvy travellers are making their hotel choices based on ‘reputation pricing’ —the correlation between a brand’s online reputation and the premium it can charge. This shift from ‘sticker price’ bookings to bookings based on the quality of the experience has been one of the big positive effects of TripAdvisor on the hotel industry.

Rate My Flight
Social and digital frontrunner, KLM is taking transparency to the next level by sharing the feedback it gathers directly from passengers with customers who are looking to book a ticket with the airline.

After extensive experimentation, KLM started showing star ratings and reviews in the search flow of the KLM website in June of this year.

Customers searching for a flight can see the actual reviews from previous passengers who have flown that flight in the past, based on reviews collected from KLM passengers using the airline’s ‘Rate My Flight’ feature. Read full article »

Try before you buy » Brand collaborations and aircraft cabins as showrooms

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This article also appears in the March/April 2016 edition of Onboard Hospitality Magazine

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As ancillary revenues have become a major revenue source for airlines – if not the lifeline for many – airlines are thinking of more ways to derive revenue from all phases of the customer journey. For example, a growing number of full-service airlines now monetizes seat selection and checked luggage, while some offer Economy passengers the option to pre-order paid gourmet meals on long-haul flights.

Another revenue opportunity lies in making the onboard retail offering more appealing. Or as trendwatcher James Woudhuyzen put it in a straightforward way in Onboard Hospitality Magazine: “Sell things people actually want to buy, so when the flight attendant announces ‘Duty Free Goods’ it isn’t in a tone that shows she fully expects zero sales.”

Try before you buy
One tactic that airlines may consider is the concept of ‘tryvertising’. Coined years ago by trend research agency TrendWatching, the idea is to take product placement to the real world by integrating products into the daily life of consumers so they can make up their minds based on their actual experience with the products.

Hotels were among the first to embrace this ‘tryvertising’ approach. Most of the major hotel chains now have an online store selling everything from bubble baths to beds. The concept received a boost when Westin in 1999 introduced its Heavenly Bed, which received very positive reviews from guest who often inquired whether they could purchase the bed they had just slept in. Recognizing that its hotels could also serve as a showroom for mattresses and other comfort items, Westin says it has sold over USD 135 million worth of Heavenly Bed-related goods in the past 15 years, including 100,000 mattresses and 175,000 pillows.

A similar concept is the Almost@Home Lounge at Helsinki Airport. Visitors of the lounge can purchase any item – artwork, furniture, glass and tableware – found in the lounge that takes their fancy, making it a ‘tryvertising’ space for home decoration. Read full article »

Meeting the expectations of today’s connected passengers: On-demand, real-time, end-to-end

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com                                                                      This article also appeared on the WTCE blog

Expectations of airline passengers are not only shaped by how well an airline performs versus its direct competitors. They are also fuelled by standards set by experiences that consumers have in other industries, as innovative products and services in one industry raise the bar for all industries. This means airlines and airports need to tune into the customer from a holistic perspective when designing the passenger experience.

At this year’s Passenger Experience Conference – which is part of the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo/WTCE in Hamburg – AirlineTrends delivered a presentation about ‘Digital Innovation and the End-to-End Passenger Experience’. Below is the outline of our talk, illustrated by a few examples of how airlines are tapping into the changing consumer behaviour and expectations of today’s connected travellers.

On Demand
As smartphones make it quick and hassle-free to order goods online, flag a taxi via Uber, or what have you, the on-demand economy has generated a sense of entitlement to fast, simple and efficient experiences as it taps into consumers’ appetite for greater convenience, speed, and simplicity. For example, analysis from Uber shows the longer Uber has been in a city, the less willing to wait for a car everyone becomes.

In the food and beverage industry, Starbucks’ new pre-order app has become a very popular time-saving service, while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of food-ordering iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.

And a growing number of airlines – including Virgin America, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, Norwegian, Azul – allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the in-seat IFE system in between regular meal services, while Qantas and EVA Air offer passengers the option to purchase duty free via the Panasonic eX3 IFE systems. Passengers onboard leisure carrier TUI Netherlands can even order drinks and duty free via their own smartphones. Read full article »

Local Heroes: How local stores and restaurants are gaining presence at airports

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By Hildegard Assies, airporttrends•com

The long-standing relationship between people and brands is broken. According to Havas Media, 54 percent of consumers worldwide do not trust brands. Much of the trust, respect and loyalty people had for many global brands have been falling for the last three decades. Due to irresponsible business practices and food scandals that have recently been in the news around the world, the dominant sentiment is that many organisations have become big by doing wrong.

This confrontation of consumers with the consequences of mass consumption, results that consumers are slowly changing the way they live and consume. Consumption has moved beyond the merely transactional an instead of looking for “more”, consumers are on the look out for honest products and services in an authentic environment. They search for unique places and brands that they do want to be associated with and improve their wellbeing but most importantly, they can trust.

The rise of local flavor
Trust starts from scratch again by smaller companies and brands that are quite close to us. Brands which want to do right instead of doing less worse. And that’s why we see the rise of local flavor. Just have a look at the rising number of urban farmer markets or eco-friendly products in supermarkets. And why is it that we search for this radically good coffee made by a passionate barista in a place where we feel at home?

Tyler Brûlé from Monocle underlined in his keynote speech at the recent ACI Trading Conference in Zurich that the age of mass, uniform, global sameness has passed. Mature consumers move on to products that offer a full story of tradition and craftsmanship. Connecting your products or services to specific locales will make them more relevant, more exclusive and correspondingly more exciting and desirable. Read full article »

Helsinki Airport offers ‘digital nomads’ a private space to work comfortably

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As many passengers today carry a smartphone, laptop and/or a tablet device, many airports around the world now offer services such as free wi-fi (often for a limited time), seating areas equipped with power outlets, while wireless charging facilities can be found on airports such as Toronto Pearson (Powermat) and Helsinki Vantaa (Powerkiss). Meanwhile, airlines like Delta (Recharging Stations) and brands such as Samsung (PowerPoles) have also installed public recharge stations in waiting areas.

Laptop chairs
The latest amenity that caters to tech-toting travellers that want to stay productive while on the road are innovative seating concepts that allow these so-called ‘Digital Nomads’ to work comfortably. For example, besides providing unlimited free wi-fi usage, Vienna Airport’s new ‘Check-In 3’ terminal) features so-called ‘laptop chairs’ which passengers can use to work undisturbed. The semi-open cubicle seats, designed by the terminal architects Baumschlager & Eberle, are made from leather and besides a small table contain several power sockets.

Suvanto lounge
In Finland, airport operator Finavia has partnered with Finnish companies Martela (office furniture), UPM (plywood), Fortum (electricity) and Karelia-Upofloor (wooden floors) to introduce a new public lounge concept at Helsinki Airport.

Called ‘Suvanto’ (which can be translated as ‘quiet waters’), the private pods provide passengers with a tranquil space to make their waiting time more comfortable and make it more convenient to work between flights. Says Marko Tikkanen, director at Finavia, “Our goal has been to create a new kind of passenger service, which is available for everyone and meets the challenges of the changing passenger culture.”
Read full article »

Kenya Airways lets the ‘unbanked’ pay for their ticket via sms

We have reported earlier how Brazilian airline TAM is reaching the rapidly growing middle class in Brazil in innovative ways. The airline sells tickets via low-end retail chain Casas Bahia and at bus stations, lets customers pay in multiple installments, and provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time flyers. Meanwhile in East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have teamed up with mobile payment services M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets.

M-PESA
M-PESA (M for money, pesa is Swahili for money) can be regarded as the African equivalent of the credit card and was first launched in 2007 by Kenyan mobile phone operator Safaricom, an affiliate of Vodafone. M-PESA allows Kenyans to transfer money via SMS instead of via a bank account, an important aspect in a country like Kenya where an estimated 30 percent of people (the so-called ‘unbanked’) have no access to formal or even informal financial services.

With M-PESA, the user can buy electronic money at one of 24,000 M-PESA agents around the country and send this ‘e-cash’ to any other mobile phone user in Kenya, who can then redeem it for conventional cash at a snearby agent. M-PESA customers can do transactions of up to Ksh 140,000 (USD 1600, EUR 1100) per day and a maximum of KShs70,000 can be deposited, sent or withdrawn per transaction. A variable fee for transaction applies (example Ksh 150 for transactions between Ksh 20,000 and 35,000).

Originally launched as a money transfer service for relatives abroad to send money home, M-PESA is also often used to pay directly for goods and services, from groceries at selected supermarket chains to electricity bills and taxi-cab fares. An M-PESA enabled mobile phone can also function as an electronic wallet that lets users pay directly for goods and services at one of 600 participating organizations. M-PESA does not pay interest on deposits nor make loans and users only need to sign up for the service with an ID card.

As of March 2011, the M-PESA service had nearly 14 million customers, or over 80 per cent of Safaricom’s customer base. M-Pesa has also been launched in South Africa and Tanzania by Vodacom, another Vodafone subsidiary.
Read full article »

TAM takes an innovative approach to attract Brazil’s emerging middle class

Rising disposable income in emerging economies such as the BRICs and the Next-11 enables the rapidly growing middle classes in these countries to start travelling by air, often for the first time (see this graph for the link between GDP and the average number of flights per capita). For example recent IATA estimates project there will be 3.3 billion air travellers by 2014, up by 800 million from the 2.5 billion passengers in 2009, with China accounting for more than a quarter of this growth.

According to Brazilian airline TAM, the middle class in Brazil has grown three times as fast as the overall population since 2002, and in 2011 roughly 6 million people are expected to move from Class C (yearly income of USD700 to 3,000) to Class B in 2011, earning over USD 6,000 a year. TAM furthermore estimates that 10.7 million Brazilians are set to hit the skies for the first time in 2011, 8.7 million of whom belong to the ‘emerging classes’ C and D (source: TAM/Sparksheet).

Reaching first-time flyers
Research by TAM shows, however, that 53 percent of the Brazilian middle class has never travelled by air, while 58 percent has travelled more than 8 hours by bus, since a lot of people in Brazil work outside their home states. In an effort to make air travel more accessible to the overall Brazilian population, increase the volume of passengers at off-peak hours, and to counter growing competition from low-cost airlines such as GOL and Azul, TAM has taken an innovative approach to reach this new segment.

The airline sells tickets via low-end retail chain Casas Bahia, will open 200 ‘TAM Viagens’ travel stores in smaller cities across Brazil, offers new ways to pay for tickets, provides advice to first-time flyers and created ads (for example on pizza boxes) that include price and payment plans to show that travelling with TAM is affordable (tagline: “Você vai e vai de TAM” / “You go and go by TAM”).
Read full article »

In-flight magazines increasingly find a niche audience

With audio and video on demand (AVOD) a standard in-flight entertainment feature today, and with travelers increasingly carrying their personal entertainment devices with them onboard, passengers may start to lose their interest in in-flight magazines amidst all the media overload. To make in-flight magazines more relevant to both passengers and advertisers, a number of airlines have begun to publish special-interest and route-dedicated in-flight magazines.

Wine
LAN Chile has just launched an in-flight magazine, called ‘in-Wines’ targetted at wine lovers traveling in business class. The first edition of in-Wines includes essays by Chilean master sommelier Héctor Vergara, serving and pairing tips, a wine-tasting class, wine reviews and Chilean and Argentinian wine routes. Connecting with passengers “on a lifestyle subject they are passionate about” is the driver behind LAN’s launch of the wine-dedicated in-flight magazine. Says LAN’s manager in-flight entertainment Violeta Garcia, “the magazine gives us the opportunity to reinforce our credibility as wine connoisseurs”. According to Spafax, which also publishes LAN’s regular ‘in magazine’, “in-Wines is already a huge hit with readers and advertisers – with over 20 major brands buying space in the first edition.”

Read full article »

‘On the Fly’ course teaches travelers how to make the most of frequent flyer programs

There is no shortage of online help for frequent flyers to help make sense of the often complex and often changing policies in airline loyalty programmes. Websites such as Flyertalk, FrequentFlier.com, InsideFlyer and ExpertFlyer.com aim to help travelers make the most of frequent flyer programs, often by letting community members help eachother. 

Now, Nicholas Kralev, who has flown more than 1.5 million miles during the past decade in his job as the diplomatic correspondent and business travel columnist for The Washington Times, has launched a smart ‘feeder business’ concept: ‘On the Fly’ seminars, named after his weekly column in the Washington Times, are real-life ‘frequent flyer 101’ courses that aim to educate participants on the best ways to benefit from frequent flyer perks when traveling.
Read full article »

What U.S air travelers want: more legroom and less fees

The new fees that airlines are charging to increase ancillary revenues, along with the lack of legroom, are the two biggest passenger complaints, according to TripAdvisor’s second annual survey of air travelers in the U.S. The travel review website asked more than 3,200 U.S. respondents about their air travel preferences, on a range of topics from airport security and airline fees to legroom and in-flight Wi-Fi. 

Some of the most interesting findings from the survey: 

Lobbying for Legroom. 25 percent of travelers said that limited legroom was one of their biggest gripes about air travel. When asked what airlines should offer to make the in-flight experience better, 30 percent lobbied for more legroom and 38 percent requested roomier seats. 

No More Fees Please. In the past year, nearly every major airline has either added or raised fees for amenities that previously were free of charge. 25 percent of respondents consider airline fees to be their biggest complaint about air travel, and 56 percent said that checked baggage fees were the most annoying current airline fee. When asked which fee travelers thought was most likely to be added or expanded by airlines in 2010, 31 percent responded with seat selection fees.
Read full article »

ExpertFlyer’s ‘Seat Alerts’ let’s travelers know when their preferred seat becomes available

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Websites such as SeatGuru and Seatplans help travelers find the best seats on an aircraft. A new service called ‘Seat Alerts’ from ExpertFlyer.com, a website that caters to frequent fliers in search of upgrades and awards, now solves the problem of actually getting that desired seat. The ‘Seat Alerts’ tool lets passengers set up an alert for any aisle or window seat, or a block of seats for multiple travelers, in case these seats are already taken. The selection of preferred seats is then linked to to real-time data provided by 85 airlines worldwide. When the desired seat becomes available, as seat reservations change regularly, users receive an e-mail notification.

The service also works for exit, premium and bulkhead seats, which are usually available to frequent fliers with elite status. For those without elite status, such premium seats typically become available 24 hours in advance. Alternatively, it is possible to tell the system to ignore seats that are only available for frequent flyer members with a particular status level.
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The Amateur-Expert Traveller

Amadeus has just released a new consumer trends report, called ‘The Amateur-Expert Traveller’. According to the study, today’s travellers are more knowledgeable, more adventurous and more likely to live in an emerging economy than ever before. The report is the latest in the series of trend reports by Amadeus, which also include ‘The Austere Traveller’ and ‘Future Travel Tribes 2020’.

The Internet is the major force behind the emergence of the ‘Amateur-Expert Traveller’, making the travel market much  more transparent by putting detailed information at the fingertips of the average traveller. Empowered by the likes of TripAdvisor, Zoover, SeatGuru, Bing Travel and TripWolf, knowledgeable travellers often know more what to expect about their flight, accomodation and destination than most travel, airline or hotel agents. They are also more demanding as their expectations of service have diverged: Today, travellers either expect a totally touchless online self-service experience, or they expect a very high level of personalised service.
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Qantas and Cathay Pacific latest carriers to adapt premium cabins to ‘the new normal’

The economic downturn and the resulting sharp decline in premium business travel is forcing network carriers to re-think the seating configurations in their long-haul aircraft. As recovery seems not to be coming soon, airlines one by one are taking steps to rightsize their premium seating. For example airlines with a relatively large exposure to business travel, such as Lufthansa, BA,  and Qatar Airways, have already reduced their premium seat capacity, while Air France says it is accelerating the roll-out of its new premium economy class to appeal to cost-conscious business travelers.

Qantas is the latest airline to announce a reconfiguration of its long-haul fleet, saying it will replace a number of first and business class seats due to the drop in premium demand. About 15% percent of premium seats are expected to be cut. According to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce “it is very clear the productivity is not right – we have too many premium class seats on many aircraft.” Joyce admits the reconfiguration of aircrafts may cost the company “a lot of money”, but says the plan will provide “a better revenue-generating alternative.” Earlier this year, Qantas already suspended its First Class cabin on several routes, upgrading  some business class passengers to First Class instead (with business class catering) at no extra cost. Read full article »