Airlines and airports should design with Nomadic Businesswoman, the Solo Socializer and the Luxploring Family in mind, explained Seymourpowell’s Mariel Brown at today’s Passenger Experience Conference.

Mariel Brown, director of Futures at Seymourpowell, kicked off Passenger Experience Conference’s “The Competitive Cabin” track by sharing, for the first time, findings from the company’s 2019 “Traveller of Tomorrow” study. Qualitative and quantitative research conducted among 2,000 individuals across regions with high and/or rapidly increasing travel spend – the US, Brazil, China, Germany and the UK – led to the identification of three passenger segments, what Brown calls “tribes,” that airlines will need to cater to.

A majority of the first of these cohorts, the Nomadic Businesswoman, believes that airport and airline services don’t cater to female travel needs as they do to male business travelers. Examples of this can be found across the cabin, from insufficient counter space in the aircraft lavatory to the lack of opportunities for organization in cabin storage.

According to the study, 74 percent of Nomadic Businesswomen would like travel environments better suited to working with colleagues. And this isn’t just about the introduction of more convivial spaces but also their design, Brown said: “Looking at the cabin and lounges, the paradigm being prevalently referenced is the gentlemen’s club, but as paradigms shift and women step up in the workplace, we need to rethink these spaces to be bright, airy and light, characteristics that appeal to the modern businesswomen.”

The second passenger group Brown identified was the Solo Socializer, which, as the name suggests, includes people who are driven by individuality and solo living. Seymourpowell’s study found that 48 percent of Solo Socializers believe they’re at the bottom of the airline priority list compared to couples and families. As a result, members of this cohort see air travel as a means to an end.

As an example of another space seen in a negative light, Brown referenced the traditional dentist office. She then displayed photos of “the urban dentist” in Berlin, a project that challenges preconceptions about the space. “The dentist office can be very cold and clinical, but this example is more akin to a night club, with mood light and soft furnishings.

Image via The Urban Dentist

“This is a great cohort to make loyal because they are incredibly well connected and can become brand ambassadors,” Brown added. One way this can be achieved is by making the cabin environment so special that the solo socializer wants to be photographed inside it and subsequently post about it.

The third – and last – passenger segment identified by Seymourpowell is the Luxploring Family, whose parents came of age during the rise of the experiential economy. They have acquired their parents’ thirst for adventure and are passing it on to their children. Building loyalty among these individuals can be achieved by showing that their children are top of mind.

After all, 69 percent of Luxploring Families believe their journey is more stressful because seating isn’t necessarily configured for families. To reimagine the cabin with this cohort mind, airlines would do well to ask themselves how the cabin is seen from a child’s perspective. Airlines like Emirates, which boasts a frequent flyer program for kids, and Air France, whose children’s amenity kits are a favorite, have already made some inroads with this group.

Seymourpowell plans to tackle these challenges more practically in the coming months, with the development of designs with built-in flexibility that can accommodate varied needs. “These passenger groups may seem very specific,” Brown said, “but, we’ve seen that a lot of inspiration comes from designing for a niche.”