What We're Made Of: Anne De Hauw, In Air Travel Experience

Anne De Hauw, In Air Travel Experience, at her home office in Monaco.

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID–19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Anne De Hauw
Founder, In Air Travel Experience
Location: Monaco
Day 25 of working from home
Date of writing: April 8

Are you in lockdown right now?
Yes, with my husband Filip and two boys, Léon (12) and Rémi (9). It’s quite a change from our usual busy schedules, but I am grateful we are together, safe, healthy and have food in the fridge.

Where are you writing from?
I am writing from my home office desk, the only space I can isolate myself to make calls quietly and focus. The room is light and bright, except for the colorful rooster on the wall painted by my boys. I equally enjoy working from a barstool at our kitchen’s high table, a bit closer to family life.

“As Socrates said in ancient Greek times, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” or communicating with your team?
Despite the imposed social distancing and seemingly people-less world out there, I believe people matter more than ever. Even in business, the crisis has revealed an increased ‘’togetherness.’’ I stay connected with customers and industry friends mostly using Skype, WhatsApp, Teams or Lifesize.

What’s your new office attire or go-to comforts at home during this time?
Suits and jackets have made way for comfortable leggings and shirts, and heels for my favorite footwear – flip flops!

How are you passing time?
During the week, we’re on a structured schedule with work, engaging in the kids’ education, cooking and managing household tasks – there’s not much time left! My life has temporarily become very routine, but the good thing is I’m getting more regular sleep and working out every two days. I try to stay focused on what I will do, not on what is happening now.

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
The customer experience-related projects we were working on before the COVID-19 outbreak have been put on hold, but we continue to work on innovation projects. Some new opportunities have come up, so ultimately 2020 may not be that dramatically different for us, but it will be different than initially expected.

How can we, as an industry, work together and rebound from this unprecedented crisis?
As you mention: work together! And as Socrates said in ancient Greek times, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Some companies may have been inspired to create new product lines, or redesign existing product or services as a result of the pandemic. How is it driving innovation?
A time of crisis is an opportunity to redefine values, rethink old structures and norms, and innovate. Despite the unprecedented times our industry is currently facing, I see major opportunities to disrupt the status-quo and lead airlines towards a new reality. New business models will be built and will take into consideration data-driven customer-centricity, digital innovation, environmental sustainability and a new element: health and safety.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months from now? One year?
I expect a strong rebound once the virus is under control. Air travel companies will be facing a new reality wherein accelerated decision-making and innovation will be key to ensuring short-term confidence and future-proofing new longer term business strategies.

What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
Airlines will have to focus on restoring people’s confidence to fly by reassuring the public of their increased sanitization. Those that get it right will stand out from the competition.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.