APEX in Profile: Simon Yaffe

Image: Buzz

Simon Yaffe
Director, Client Relationships

Simon is an experienced commercial director, strategic sales leader and business builder. He is dedicated to developing and maintaining long-term alliances with blue chip global clients and brands. He has a passion for ideation and innovation and believes in exceeding customer service expectations.

Fast Facts:
Years in the industry: 9
Favorite aircraft: A380
Window or aisle? Aisle
Passport stamp you wish you had: Oman

Buzz launched a campaign to encourage the in-flight services industry to reduce its environmental footprint. What problems currently exist?
One of the biggest is waste, particularly the overreliance on single-use plastic and excess packaging for in-flight products. Suppliers and airlines have the opportunity to rethink today’s travel needs and what are essentials, as opposed to just what’s historically been done.

Some airlines are eliminating plastic straws and stir sticks. What’s the next thing that needs to go?
Polybags. We are making it easy for clients to remove them by offering viable alternatives. We are also focused on creating products from recycled materials, rather than virgin materials.

Why should the airline industry care about sustainability?
Given the sheer volume of passengers and the amount of consumption, airlines have the ability to make large-scale, impactful change. For example, our ecoTHREAD blanket program has repurposed a massive 63 million plastic bottles that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

How does Buzz practice sustainability?
Beyond the actual product itself, as a design company, we evaluate every step in a process and try to implement conscious design principles whenever possible. This includes minimizing waste by optimizing carton use for example, to reduce the packaging and shipping required.

“Suppliers and airlines have the opportunity to rethink today’s travel needs … as opposed to just what’s historically been done.”

What’s the biggest change to have occurred in the amenity kits market in the last five years?
Passengers are more discerning in their appreciation for amenity kits. Premium brands are now expected. Bags with considered design and brand synergy to the airline are more likely to resonate with the customer and be reused and valued beyond the journey.

How has social media changed the in-flight services business?
I have been blown away by passengers posting about their in-flight experiences. Social media now means that everyone has a platform to provide reviews if they choose to. Programs like Alessi for Delta and Acqua di Parma for Etihad achieved exceptional social media engagement.

Did you choose the airline industry or did it choose you?
Before working in the airline industry, I was involved in media: in advertising sales and marketing for national network television, radio and digital portals. I changed industries because I was looking for an opportunity to express my ideas in a creative agency environment, and this happened to fall in the airline industry.

Is society’s obsession with tech trickling into any in-flight amenity trends?
Buzz has a service called Buzz Connect. It seeks to marry the technological world we live in with physical products that appeal to our senses. My personal challenge is to facilitate conversations with our customers that solve problems via product solutions that include software/hardware technology at their core, much like we did with the Qantas RFID Q Bag Tag.

What is the ultimate amenity kit experience for a traveler?
To receive something that is beautifully and sustainably designed and creates a spark of inspiration. It needs to feel good to the touch and look good, too. And it should feature a brand that is aspirational or provide a chance to experience something new.

APEX in Profile: Simon Yaffe was originally published in the 9.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.