Apex-Experience-6.4-5 Reccomendations

Image: Jorge de la Paz

APEX Insight: “You may also like…” are four words that may hang in the balance between keeping a passenger engaged with airline entertainment, or not. Netflix and YouTube use video recommendations to keep their audience watching, but would they work in IFE systems?

If you like House of Cards, then you may also like Mad Men. It’s a simple if-then formula that powers recommendations consumers expect to see now on YouTube, Netflix and other channels. And with in-flight entertainment (IFE) catalogs growing to unprecedented sizes, passengers may expect to find them on board, too.

“From my point of view, the next steps for IFE are about personalization and interaction,” says Fabienne Regitz, IFE product manager for Lufthansa. “With new IFE systems offering ways to pair personal devices with the seatback monitor, new use cases will be added that will also allow new types of content. The extension of connectivity will support this development even more.”

“The next steps for IFE are about personalization and interaction.” – Fabienne Regitz, Lufthansa

In September last year, Singapore Airlines became the first airline to launch a companion mobile app for its IFE system, powered by Panasonic Avionics. Cedric Rhoads, executive director, Corporate Sales and Product Management at Panasonic Avionics, says that companion apps let customers personalize IFE in a way that feels natural. The companion app carries passenger-viewing data from one flight to the next to inform recommendations.   

“We can just index between things like a media file or an application, or specific Internet pages or activities they do on board the aircraft, and manipulate that data to change the experience,” Rhoads explains. “For example, a simplistic version would be to recommend movies based on past selections. Again, the personal electronic device has a role to play. It becomes the transport player for that passenger experience data.”

“Where it’s going to get interesting is the airline’s ability to use connectivity to the aircraft to load content dynamically.” — Cedric Rhoads, Panasonic Avionics

As these systems evolve, recommendations could become more sophisticated. “For example, [the system could say,] ‘The last time you were on board, you watched this movie, but you didn’t finish it. Would you like to finish it now?’” Rhoads suggests. “We can say: ‘The last 15 movies that you watched on flights for the past two months have been around these characters or themes. Here are recommendations from this month’s movie selections.’ These are things that are relatively easy to implement and we’re already seeing some in our companion app.”

Rhoads expects in-flight connectivity to revolutionize recommendations in the future. “Where it’s going to get interesting is the airline’s ability to use connectivity to the aircraft to load content dynamically, based on passenger experience or passenger requests,” he says.

“You May Also Like…” was originally published in the October/November issue of APEX Experience magazine.