16 December 2014 | At airlinetrends.com we continuously monitor the global aviation industry for product and service innovations launched by airlines in response to cultural, technological, and economic changes that influence airline customers’ needs and expectations.
The top 10 product and service innovations we have selected this year reflect how airlines are becoming bolder in the design of new products and services as more airlines are embrading hospitality, design and technology as ways to differentiate the passenger experience.
Taiwan’s flag carrier China Airlines is transforming its products and services with the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ER becoming the airline’s flagship aircraft to showcase innovations such as a ‘Sky Lounge’ in Business and ‘Family Couches’ in Economy. Read article »
Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus’ new Business Class cabin in our opinion ticks many boxes of what the Business Class experience should look like in the coming years, as the airline has come up with a very well thought-out combination of product and service design. Read article »
Etihad has unveiled the world’s first private multi-room cabin on a commercial passenger aircraft. Called ‘The Residence’, the ‘über premium’ space will feature a living room, double bedroom, and a separate ensuite shower room, while passengers will be served by a dedicated butler. Read article »
Hidden inside the press storm caused by Etihad’s luxurious new A380 comes a smart design innovation of the airline’s new Economy seats. Etihad’s so-called ‘Economy Smart Seats’ feature a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, designed to provide a firm surface for passengers to lean on while sleeping. Read article »
With the aim to provide frequent flyers in Business Class with the maximum amount of sleep, Qantas is introducing Business Class seats on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination. Read article » Read full article »
12 December 2014 | In order to connect and engage with ever more experienced, connected, and informed consumers, who routinely ignore the commercials and ads thrown at them, airlines around the world are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing activities and are finding new ways to break through the advertising clutter. As such, we are witnessing the birth of many creative campaigns from airlines, be it experiental, social, mobile, digital or traditional media initiatives.
Airline Marketing Benchmark Report
Airlinetrends.com and SimpliFlying jointly produce the premium monthly Airline Marketing Benchmark Report, which features the most innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Each month’s report contains 15 new case-studies that inform and inspire airline marketers and creative agencies how other airlines are making a difference with their marketing-communication campaigns. So far, we have published 28 editions, reporting on over 400 airline case studies. Have a look at this sample report and infographic to learn more.
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Innovative campaigns in 2014
To recap 2014, we have selected those innovative marketing campaigns launched by airlines in the past year that in our opinion do a great job engaging today’s media-savvy and connected consumers.
KLM in October took its social media-based customer service to another level with a bold campaign called #HappyToHelp. During five days, a dedicated team scanned social media forany passenger facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with real-time answers and support. Read article »
Food trucks are a hot phenomenon these days, having evolved from chip stands into quality gourmet food-on-the-go. In an effort to reach today’s marketing-savvy consumers, Korean Air and Lufthansa in the fall of this year were the latest airlines to capitalize on the food truck trend for marketing purposes. Read article »
JetBlue in November put its own twist on the concept of ‘paying it forward’, by awarding a free ticket to several deserving individuals involved in humanitarian efforts. In an ongoing effort, JetBlue lets that person select another deserving recipient of the free ticket, and so on and so on. Read article » Read full article »
Images courtesy Australian Business Traveller
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
9 December 2014 | In the past years airlines around the world have been busy installing seats in Business Class that can be turned into fully flat beds, making ‘full flat’ the industry standard. In an effort to further differentiate their premium product, airlines are increasingly coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience. Examples include Virgin Atlantic’s Snooze Zone, Delta’s partnership with Westin and Aer Lingus’ new Business Class which offers passengers a well thought-out combination of product and service innovations.
In an effort to provide frequent flyers in Business Class with the maximum amount of sleep, Qantas is introducing Business Class seats on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination. The innovation, for which Qantas is awaiting regulatory approval, could let passengers get more than seven hours of shuteye on an Australia to Southeast Asia trip.
As aircraft seats are traditionally locked upright during take-off and landing, when most accidents happen, the innovation would allow Qantas to offer the world’s first seats that let passengers recline in their seat from take-off through to landing.
Key to the break-through product’s safety is an over-the-shoulder belt — much like a car seatbelt — that connects with the usual around-the-waist belt to provide extra restraint during takeoff and landing.
The seats won’t be able to recline less than 25 degrees from the horizontal on international flights and 21 degrees domestically. That’s sufficient to allow the shoulder belt to work, withstanding the 16G forces that can be exerted in a survivable accident. The berths can be switched to fully-flat mode once the plane is in level flight. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
5 December 2014 | In order to make as much as possible of the limited ‘real estate’ onboard their aircraft, airlines such as British Airways (‘Club Kitchen’), American Airlines (‘Lobby Bar’), Japan Airlines’ (‘Sky Gallery’) and China Airlines (‘Sky Lounge’) have been reimagining how the galley area of the premium cabin could become the domain of passengers as well after regular service is over.
Virgin Atlantic ‘Wander Wall’
On a similar note, Virgin Atlantic – which is also known for its signature Upper Class onboard bar (one of the very few airlines to actually install a bar on aircraft that are not an A380) – has come up with an inventive concept on its new B787 Dreamliner that is called the ‘Wander Wall’.
While the sit-up bar is for Business Class passengers only, those in Premium Economy on the airline’s B787 are encouraged to stretch their legs and come over to the ‘Wander Wall’ and mingle with other passengers and crew.
The ‘Wander Wall’ is located in the front galley, just behind the Upper Class bar, and is a bulkhead area where Premium Economy fliers can “wander to” and help themselves to snacks, drinks and newspapers. “It creates a space where customers can get out of their seats and stretch their legs,” CEO Craig Kreeger told USA Today. “It gives them a destination, someplace they can walk to that’s not the bathroom.”
Developed to reflect the design of the Upper Class bar, the social space offers a mini fridge, water fountain and a self-serve area where passengers can help themselves to snacks and refreshments.
Reuben Arnold, director of brand and customer experience told Business Traveller: “The Wonderwall [in the galley] is a great place to stretch your legs and socialise. On day flights there will be snacks and drinks here, there is a fridge and a water fountain; on evening flights, there will be things like chamomile tea and hot chocolate with marshmallows. It gives a reason for people to want to go there and leave their seat.”
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
27 November 2014 | Social media has provide passengers a powerful platform to voice their opinion on their travel experience. In a response, the airline industry is among the most pro-active sectors that monitor the online conversation.
Furthermore, instead of just waiting for passengers to share their experiences (both good and bad) online, several airlines have also started to encourage passengers to provide their feedback about the service they encounter in real-time.
KLM, Singapore Changi
For example, KLM has launched a mobile app that allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived their experience at the airport. After downloading the KLM Feedback app, passengers first choose the airport they are currently at and then choose the area (check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival) and sub-area they want to rate. The rating consists of simply tapping a ‘thumps up’ or ‘thumbs down’ button, but passengers can also specify their rating with a comment.
Singapore’s Changi Airport has installed an instant feedback system at selected check-in desks, immigration counters, retail stores, dining outlets and washrooms. Passengers can rate frontline service staff or the level of cleanliness on a five-point scale using interactive touchscreens. They can also indicate what they like or dislike.
Another recent example comes from Turkish Airlines, which last month implemented a customer satisfaction measurement system at its İstanbul hub in order to measure passenger perception of the check-in process at staffed desks in real-time.
The airline has placed survey devices – red and black-cased models to distinguish respectively Economy and Business Class service areas– on its check-in counters.
How it works
When the airport agent starts the check-in process, the survey device is activated and greets passengers by their surname. The welcome screen also shows the name of the serving agent and asks passengers to rate the service. Passengers can start the survey themselves by touching the sceen or alternatively a rating screen appears automatically when the check-in process is finished. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
20 November 2014 | KLM is on a roll when it comes to surprising passengers with unexpected touches. In the past months, the airline has set up a dedicated ‘Lost & Found’ team at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport that aims to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. The team uses all available information like seat number, phone numbers and public social media details to reunite passengers with their belongings a.s.a.p.
And last month KLM took its social media-based customer service to another level with a bold campaign called #HappyToHelp. During five days, a dedicated team scanned social media for any passenger facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with real-time answers and support.
Showing the sheer diversity of stories of passengers travelling on the same aircraft on a given day, KLM’s latest effort is called ‘Cover Greetings’ and involved placing a personal message from loved ones staying at home to their boyfriend, girlfriend or relative on the headrest of their KLM aircraft seat.
The airline spotted people saying goodbye to their families at the departure gate, then whisked their relatives away to a place where they could decorate a seat cover with their own message. KLM together with AmsterdamSchipholAirport worked together to ensure that the personal message was placed on the right seat in the aircraft.
This made for an unexpected and touching moment for the passengers who boarded the plane as they saw a headrest cover made especially for them.
The moving video showing the cover greetings and passenger’s responses can be watched online and is also currently played on a large, centrally located, screen at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
Although the stunt took place on a single day, involving passengers from three different flights, the airline says it might develop ‘Cover Greetings’ into a permanent service.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
11 November 2014 | Airlines around the world are working hard to keep up with the cabin interior upgrade arms race by introducing bigger and better premium seats, as well as smarter and lighter designs in Economy. At the same time airlines are coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience, ideally taking a holistic approach to design a branded passenger experience.
Irish ‘value carrier’ Aer Lingus recently announced details of its new 32-seat Business Class cabin, which in our opinion ticks many boxes of what the Business Class experience should look like in the coming years, as the airline has come up with a very well thought-out combination of product and service innovations. Or as Irish newspaper The Independent put it: “Is Aer Lingus’s hot new cabin a business ‘class’, ‘service’ or ‘experience’?”
Examples include pre-flight dinner in the airline’s JFK and Boston lounges for passengers who want to maximize their sleep onboard, free wifi and ample stowage space for personal devices, the provision of dinner on demand onboard, tapping into Aer Lingus Irish heritage with items such as locally sourced food and the amenity kit cosmetics, and providing pre-flight clearance of US customs and immigration on flights leaving Dublin and Shannon.
Sleep, work, dine, relax
The seats, manufactured by fellow Irish company Thompson Aero, have been customized by Factorydesign who are also responsible for the new Thompson Vantage-based ‘Mint’ Business Class on JetBlue’s new subfleet of transcontinental A321s.
Aer Lingus new Business Class seat transforms into a fully-flat 6’6” (2 metres) bed, which is one of the longest in the industry, with a seat width of 22”. The staggered layout offers direct aisle access to 90 percent of Business Class passengers except those with a window seat in the first row. Irish supplier Botany Weaving has provided the fabrics for the Business Class cabin such as seat covers, carpets and curtains, with the fibres designed to reflect Ireland’s weaving heritage. A video of the new Aer Lingus Business Class cabin here.
Aer Lingus will introduce its new Business Class on its seven A330 aircraft from March 2015, and what makes the airline’s new premium passenger experience of interest is that Aer Lingus aimed to come up with product and services that design for multiple uses of one space based on a passenger’s needs, depending on whether they wish to sleep, work, dine or relax. Read full article »
This case appears in the November 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »
9 November 2014 | JetBlue is putting its own twist on the concept of “paying it forward,” in a social media-driven initiative called “Fly it Forward” (video here). The program sends one ticket on a never-ending trip around the JetBlue network, aiming to enable people to fulfill a dream or make a meaningful humanitarian impact on the world.
The airline started the long-term campaign by awarding one free JetBlue ticket to several deserving individuals involved in humanitarian efforts, then let that person select another deserving recipient of a free ticket, and so on and so on. Or as the Creativity Online website nicely summarizes the generous concept: “JetBlue is turning an airline ticket into a chain letter of human goodness.”
The first Fly It Forward ticket recipients, shown in this heartwarming video (1.2 million views of YouTube so far), include Tameka Lawson, who represented her Chicago non-profit I-Grow at a UN conference in New York, and Louis Elneus, whose organization Haiti Lumiere helped build the first public library in his home country of Haiti.
These initial recipients were found and picked by JetBlue employees, and now the airline is asking people to submit their own nominations for the next people to get the ticket, through the Fly It Forward microsite and social channels using the hashtag #FlyitForward.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
6 November 2014 | At the recent Future Travel Experience event in Las Vegas, Eash Sundaram, CIO at JetBlue Airways, rightfully noted that the traditional check-in procedure is very much a “1960s process,” and check-in will become an automated activity. JetBlue in July of this year introduced automatic check-in.
In the meantime, however, FTE reports that “the industry has failed to embrace auto check-in en masse, even though it is an important step in the ultimate process change of fully automating and even removing check-in as a distinct element of the travel experience.”
Nevertheless, as many passengers today feel no need to use the traditional full check-in process with staffed airport desks, opting for self-service – either online or via airport kiosks – instead, there will be fewer staffed desks. Instead, for passengers who need assistance there will be roaming airline agents equipped with tablets to assist passengers.
Currently, a limited number of airlines – including American Airlines (YADA), United, Iberia (IBHelp), Air France, easyJet (Halo) and IndiGo – have deployed ‘mobile agents’ to help passengers check in or rebook.
Emirates ‘Journey Manager’
Emirates has empowered its airport staff with a mobile application called Journey Manager wich enables them to get real-time information regardless of where they are in the airport. Developed by Emirates in cooperation with Samsung and Etisalat, Journey Manager runs on the recently launched Samsung Note 4 smartphone.
Emirates’ managers and supervisors can use the application to check the status of both inbound and outbound flights, which helps them to assess potential areas of concern and better manage operations, especially in the event of a disruption.
“The size and scale of our operations at the airport can be a challenge, especially during peak times where we can see up to 140 departures and arrivals in a four hour window,” said Mohammed Mattar, Emirates’ divisional senior vice president, airport services. Read full article »
2 November 2014 | Brussels Airlines has unveiled its new lounge concept, which makes use of design, technology, and Belgian gastronomy to create an innovative lounge environment at Brussels Airport.
The design of the new lounge – which is called ‘The Loft’ and can be found in Brussels Airport’s A Pier – has been based entirely on feedback and interviews with frequent flyers.
The lounge contains a total of eight different ‘hubs’, including a digital experience for which the carrier has teamed up with Microsoft and design and innovation firm Designit.
Lounge guests can borrow a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet, on which they can access the Brussels Airlines ‘digital lounge assistant’ app, called Connected Lounge, which enables them to book a shower room, view the availability of ‘nap boxes’ or book a meeting room. Passengers can also use the tablet to watch movies via Telenet’s Yelo service while they wait for their flight.
The showers feature LED lighting and music that changes depending on the mood chosen by the passenger, the nap boxes provide a space to rest, and meeting rooms and work stations include furniture from Belgium company Bulo and feature two Skype phone booths.
Among the many other highlights is the ‘Living Zone’, which is based on the universe of Tintin, the character created by Belgian cartoonist Hergé, while a wide selection of Belgian foods and beverages are offered.
Service is also a central theme and the lounge hosts have received butler training to ensure they can offer hotel-style service to guests. Read full article »
27 October 2014 | Besides reporting on the latest passenger experience trends and product & service innovations, airlinetrends.com also frequently provides in-house ‘trends & innovations’ sessions at airlines and suppliers to the airline industry.
For those who would like to experience an airlinetrends.com session «live», we have partnered with Future Travel Experience Asia – which will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on December 1-3 – to provide two working sessions as part of the Up In The Air conference stream.
(1) “STRATEGIES FOR DELIVERING EVEN BETTER PASSENGER EXPERIENCES” - Unconference Session
MONDAY DECEMBER 1ST » 15.30 – 16.30
In this interactive session facilitators Raymond Kollau, Founder airlinetrends.com and Daniel Baron, Founder LIFT Strategic Design will first give a presentation about key consumer and passengers trends.
Then, in an “unconference” discussion, participants will discuss together all angles of passenger experience development and the challenges they face in product, service delivery and brand. Participants will gain insight into trends plus strategies for more effective concept development and implementation, in the context of their corporate goals. Learn more »
(2) TRENDS AND INNOVATIONS SHAPING TODAY’S ONBOARD PASSENGER EXPERIENCE
TUESDAY DECEMBER 2ND » 09.45 – 10.45
How airlines are responding to consumer trends and technology with innovative products and service in order to differentiate the passenger experience.
This fast-paced trend session, led by airlinetrends.com founder Raymond Kollau, follows the so-called customer journey and combines the main macro, industry and consumer trends shaping the airline industry today with dozens of the latest airline product and service innovations and links them to the various elements of the onboard passenger experience: cabin, seats, IFE, catering, amenities, hospitality, etc. Learn more » Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
23 October 2014 | Forward-looking airports are realizing they have to differentiate the passenger experience. Not only by designing seamless, efficient, processes and fancy terminals, but also by creating a distinct ambiance with a unique and flexible portfolio of retail, food & beverage and service concepts.
Says Hildegard Assies, co-founder of trend research and innovation agency airporttrends•com, “This emphasis by airports on connecting culture, places and people is setting off a new phase in airport development. By creating an authentic identity airports are taking on a new role as a ‘cultural connector’ and story teller. Besides being a space that handles passenger flows with a great shopping centre attached, airports are evolving into meaningful destinations themselves – an urban place where technology, culture, work, leisure and people connect.”
San Francisco: Creative Capital of the World
A great example of this approach is San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) newest amenity – a space inspired by the Bay Area start-up culture and dedicated to the exchange of ideas, where thought leaders, innovators, investors, and travellers are encouraged to meet, greet, inspire and create.
Named #Converge@flySFO, the public lounge is designed to allow travellers to meet and exchange thoughts on technology, start-ups, the sharing economy, disruption, travel, politics, and ways that could make the world a better place.
The 850-square-foot facility – which opened mid-September – is a free, open space furnished with tables, lounge-style chairs, power outlets, free Wi-Fi and a white board covering an entire wall. Video of the #Converge@flySFO lounge here.
Travellers looking to make the best use of the space are encouraged to promote their intended topic of interest, date and time on their personal social media channels using the hashtag #Converge and tagging @flySFO where possible. SFO will then repost on its social media channels. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
20 October 2014 | KLM, known for its savvy social service and innovative marketing campaigns, took both to new levels last week with a bold #HappyToHelp campaign.
Starting with the premise that the best promotion for customer service is great customer service, a dedicated team scanned social media during five days for passengers facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with a creative and relevant #HappytoHelp answer produced and personalised for single passengers in real-time – even when those passengers were not travelling with KLM.
On- and offline
Selected problems would then be solved in a variety of ways, ranging from actual physical intervention, such as helping someone retrieve a forgotten passport and still make their flight, to providing one-to-one advice or information through social media.
During the week, KLM’s social media team could rely on the back-up from a team of fast-producing creative people from KLM’s creative agency Tribal DDB with different skills to produce content. Answers ranged from a simple text message to an Instagram picture, a Vine, or YouTube video.
For example, KLM staff made a wake up call over the phone and offered breakfast at the airport (video here) to a traveller who had to get up early to catch her flight, provided a tailored weather report to a traveller who was unsure what to pack for that last minute trip to Ibiza, and recorded a video with personalized Spanish language lessons to a traveller flying to Mexico.
The airline even hired a speed boat on the Hudson River (video) to help out passengers who risked missing a flight–any flight–due to being stuck in traffic on their way to JFK. “Imagine the impact if you are not flying with KLM but it is KLM that gets to the airport,” says Pol Hoenderboom, creative director at Tribal DDB Amsterdam. Read full article »
14 October 2014 | The travel industry is often at the forefront of trialling new technologies, and in the past year we have seen airlines experiment with the latest digital technologies such as Google Glass (Virgin Atlantic, Spring), smartwatches (Vueling, Iberia, airberlin), Virtual Reality (Thomas Cook, Emirates), and even drones (easyJet).
Furthermore, the acceleration of wi-fi installations at airports and onboard aircraft will (finally) create ubiquitous connectivity. Combined with the large number of passengers carrying one or more digital devices (97 percent at last count), the rapid developments in digital technologies has created a perfect storm that sees many of today’s airline and airport passenger product and service innovations taking place in the digital realm.
Reflecting the omnipresence of digital technologies in the passenger journey, a growing number of airlines are aligning themselves with the creative, entrepreneurial and technology industries by participating in events such as TED (Delta) and SXSW (American Airlines), immersing in digital culture by establishing a Digital Media Lab (Ryanair), or co-create new applications by organizing ‘hack-a-tons’ (e.g, American Airlines, Emirates, Vueling).
Lufthansa at TEDxBerlin
In Europe, Lufthansa announced this summer it intends to invest a EUR 500 million in innovations groupwide in the run up to 2020. The plans should see a new ‘Innovation Hub’ established this year in Berlin – in order to be closer to the start-up and digital technology scene – and the set up of an ‘Innovation fund’ to expedite the development of promising new ideas from both within and outside the airline group.
Lufthansa’s Chief Strategy Officer Sadiq Gillani recently delivered a talk at TEDxBerlin – titled ‘The Next Step for Airlines’ (video here) – in which he highlighted how innovation and digitization can take place at all stages (that is: Dreaming, Departing, Flying and Arriving) of the airline passenger journey. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
10 October 2014 | With mood lighting now being a standard feature on new aircraft, several airlines have also begun retrofitting mood lighting in their older cabins. Furthermore, besides the ‘generic’ approach towards mood lighting – that is, recreating sunset on evening flights and sunrise in the morning – a few airlines have taken a cue from Virgin America’s iconic red and purple cabin lighting – which has been described by some passengers as feeling like entering a flying nightclub – to come up with their signature cabin lighting.
Says Daniel Baron, founder of Tokyo-based founder of Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design, “Airlines should use mood lighting as an integral part of the brand presentation, or as association with origin. As the systems become more sophisticated and available on more aircraft as line-fit items, more meaningful differentiation with the lighting, i.e., not just as a novelty, will become the norm.”
A great example of this approach is Icelandair. In early April of this year, Icelandair – the airline that positions itself as the ideal stopover carrier between Europe and North-America – completed the first aircraft installation of EMTEQ’s full-spectrum mood lighting system onto a B757.
Icelandair plans to instal the system, which is capable of delivering highly customizable scenes with dynamic colors and intensity levels, on 18 B757s.
Commenting on the new mood lighting, Helgi Már Björgvinsson, Icelandair’s SVP for Marketing and Sales, said “Less maintenance and lower fuel consumption was an important case for the upgrade, as well as the desire to create a unique passenger experience and to utilize the lighting for branding purposes.” Read full article »