In advance of FTE APEX Virtual Expo, leaders from six of the event’s sponsors/exhibitors sat down with APEX Media for a series of video interviews to discuss the future of air travel and the industry in the wake of COVID-19. Here’s what they had to say in a nutshell.
We’re Getting Engaged!
Engagement and ancillary are one thing, says Thierry Carmes, COO of Display Interactive, an in-flight e-commerce platform. “But there is another key component here, which is the portal interface itself. If that’s not appealing to your passengers, if it’s not enticing them, if there is no call to action, then there is no click, and no engagement.”
Throughout 2020, Display fine-tuned its engagement platform to drive more clicks and deeper exploration to encourage a strong brand experience and greater revenue opportunities. Carmes, who is confident the industry is in recovery, said that by being flexible and cutting variable costs wherever possible, the company was able to support its customers on that path.
A Vertical Horizon
Having entered into an agreement to buy in-flight connectivity provider Gogo’s commercial aviation business this summer, satellite operator Intelsat is focusing on a vertical future, says Frederik van Essen, the company’s vice-president, Aero.
“The industry has [historically] been hampered by a business model [that includes] many parties from the satellite operators all the way to the customer. This hasn’t helped in getting to the best economics for the industry. [It’s] also made it more complicated to actually improve products and design them for the future.”
Intelsat’s integration model will help to remove barriers between airlines and achieve “the Holy Grail” of free Wi-Fi for all, he tells APEX.
Jack of All Trades
For the past 20 years, IFPL has been making some of the most reliable passenger interface solutions on the market. CEO Geoff Underwood shares how the company’s portfolio of in-seat power solutions can help airlines recover from the pandemic by paving the way to a touchless experience (via Bluetooth capabilities) and even generating ancillary revenue.
“We’ve developed a device called the AdPower, which is a USB module that allows an airline to run advertising through the unit. Whenever a passenger plugs in their mobile device to charge it up, it automatically launches a webpage or an advert,” Underwood says.
The Right Touch
Joe Carreira, founder and CEO of Touch Inflight Solutions, and André Valera, director of Business Development, talk about content delivery disruption, new business models around content licensing and how to keep passengers positively engaged. They also delve into the company’s new Touch Media Centre, an online portal designed to provide airlines and other customers an “e-commerce-like” experience that simplifies content discovery, curation and ordering for in-flight entertainment (IFE) managers.
“From an advertiser’s perspective, we’re looking at developing content solutions that are not only in tune with what the passenger wants or the brand but also how the airline positions itself in the marketplace,” Carreira says.
We’ve Got Your Back (Office)
Jan-Peter Gaense, head of Group and Passenger Experience Solutions at Lufthansa Systems, shares how the company is trimming the IFE content supply chain down from 90 days to just a few hours thanks to state-of-the-art cloud-based technology and partnerships with CastLabs, Touch Inflight Solutions and Above. He also talks about touchless in-flight retail and Lufthansa Systems’ broader focus on flight operations.
“It doesn’t really matter if you have ten flights or 100 flights per day, you still need to have a tool that works reliably. The way we produce our systems, we are still able to ensure that all of our customers are getting the same level of service today as they did before the crisis,” Gaense says.
It’s a Sprint
COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of change in the airline industry and Spafax is embracing it, say CEO Niall McBain; Henry Gummer, senior vice-president, Global Content; and Paul Colley, senior vice-president, Technology.
The content company shares some insight into the key areas of its digital transformation, including the creation of The Hive, a centralized content library, and the introduction of Sprint, a cloud-based video-processing pipeline at the company’s technical facility, The Hub.
Sprint is “a blend of off-the-shelf technology and custom development that enables us to deliver more content in a shorter period of time, and have better quality control while keeping costs down,” Colley explains.