APEX in Profile: Greg Caterer


Image: Greg Caterer

Greg Caterer
Chief Operating Officer
Neutral Digital

Before joining Neutral Digital, a VR content creator focused on the travel sector, Greg was a strategy consultant in London. He founded a smart-relocation business in 2015 and also spent 18 months in the design industry working for an eco-friendly lighting startup. In his spare time, he can be found on the tennis court.

Fun Facts:
Frequent flight: LHR-HKG
Now reading: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami
Favorite aircraft: Equator P2 Xcursion
Seatback or PED? The two of them, connected!
Passport stamp you wish you had: Greenland

Give us a glimpse into a day in the life of your job.
No two days are the same. A typical week can involve client meetings in London, running a team-building activity, getting involved in project quality assurance or flying to Doha for the day for business development. The studio itself is in a typically trendy East London location, and has plenty of white brick, plants, virtual reality and aviation memorabilia. We frequently wind down at lunch or at the end of a busy day with a spot of VR gaming, and we’re constantly sharing and discussing interesting articles and videos on the latest developments and trends in the aviation industry.

What is the role of VR in the airline passenger experience?
VR is primarily useful as a passenger experience communicator. Our projects increase brand recognition, whet holiday appetites with destination scenes, showcase something special (a new aircraft or route) or build familiarity with a new cabin. For example, our British Airways Club Suite VR project was designed to help the airline’s staff familiarize themselves with the new cabin and to build excitement among the general public. Using VR allowed for ultimate levels of realism, and the digital scenes could be used as part of British Airways’ marketing campaign, thereby increasing brand recognition.

“There won’t be a single niche of the aviation sector that doesn’t rely in some capacity on VR or immersive technology five years from now.”

Where do you see VR going next in the aviation sector?
Training will see the next big gains from implementing VR. Cabin crew training need no longer be an entirely physical activity at a flight training center or on board a grounded aircraft. The same goes for training ground operations staff. In-cabin VR is also touted as the next big development. I strongly believe that there won’t be a single niche of the aviation sector that doesn’t rely in some capacity on VR or immersive technology five years from now.

 What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing people’s reactions to our technology when experiencing it for the first time. One of the unique things about Neutral Digital is that we get to help an entire sector understand how it can glean value from an emerging technology. A lot of people have preconceptions about what VR is, and typically confuse it with 360-degree video technology. Putting people in a fully interactive VR environment where they can treat their surroundings like a video game is incredibly powerful, and it’s amazing to see their minds open to what it can do.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
My company is trying to develop a product and educate a market simultaneously. As a relatively small outfit, we are responsible for helping a sector understand what problems VR can solve as a first step – only then can we develop the products required to solve those problems directly.

If you could sit next to anyone on a flight, who would it be?
Sean Bean. I’m a massive Bond fan, and his portrayal of Trevelyan in GoldenEye was the best villain performance I’ve ever seen, nailing the friend-turned-foe role with style. I’d hope for his sake the flight was short-haul, as I’d probably have thousands of questions for him! 

APEX in Profile: Greg Caterer was originally published in the 9.5 December/January issue of APEX Experience magazine.