APEX EXPO Q&A: SITAONAIR’s high-speed connected experience
Aviation industry influencers flock to APEX EXPO 25-28 September 2017 for the year’s biggest passenger experience event. Here, SITAONAIR VP of Strategy, Dominique El Bez, explains why helping airlines’ get their inflight connectivity off the ground is just the start of a connected aircraft’s personalized #PaxEx journey … and why airlines are enlisting SITAONAIR to join them on that flight.
With inflight connectivity in sharp focus for the foreseeable future, what is SITAONAIR’s role in this landscape?
Dominique El Bez: SITAONAIR holds a truly unique place in the inflight connectivity market. Not only do we supply coveted high-speed broadband connectivity to airlines – we harness that connectivity to deliver the promise of the personalized, high-speed connected experience. How? Through our rich portfolio of connected services and applications for passengers and cabin crew, which are the keys enabling airlines to truly realize the value of their IFC investment.
Paint us a picture of SITAONAIR’s offer…
Dom: We deliver the complete, nose-to-tail connected aircraft. That’s everything from establishing high-speed inflight broadband; empowering passengers to maintain their digital lives and freedoms when they fly, with onboard Wi-Fi and mobile telephony; digitizing cabin crews to tailor the onboard passenger experience by making passenger profile data accessible at the touch of a button; helping airline customers enhance RoI by partnering with chosen sponsors to deliver exclusive inflight offers; to paving the way for new Internet of Aircraft Things innovations, enabling crews and passengers to interact through devices inflight.
Our mission is to put connectivity in users’ hands to enhance airline operations and passenger experience. Our digital harmonization expertise takes this connected experience to yet another level for airlines. With our ‘open platforms’ approach, we help airlines harmonize the inflight connectivity experience so that it is streamlined and consistent across their airline fleets – without having to expensively overhaul those aircraft to achieve it.
You spoke last year about open platforms as the key to the next inflight connectivity revolution. How has this progressed since 2016?
Dom: Our open platforms or open cabin vision is a reality now, and becoming an essential approach within our industry. Airlines see establishing a consistent, quality IFC experience as increasingly vital, but are struggling to achieve it, with half of the world’s leading airlines having invested in two or more IFC service providers (66% of non-US airlines) for their fleets.
We have several current customer projects ongoing that rely on our digital harmonization expertise to achieve that coveted, consistent, high-quality connected passenger experience across airlines’ pre-existing fleets and avionics, whilst being integrated within airlines’ IT infrastructures. The industry focus may be on achieving high-speed inflight broadband for now, but creating the seamless, brand-defining IFC experience off the back of it is the immediate future.
What are the key passenger experience demands for 2017?
Dom: That 91% of airline respondents in SITA’s September Airline & Airport IT Trends Insight are prioritizing wireless inflight services for passengers hammers home IFC’s importance in the modern onboard experience.
SITA’s Passenger IT Trends Survey from June this year also revealed higher satisfaction levels among connected passengers onboard compared to non-connected. Of passengers choosing to access available inflight Wi-Fi, 88% said they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ satisfied with their experience. It is onboard connectivity that’s providing the gateway to a more personalized experience, such as through digital destination services – which, while not widely used, garnered a 90% satisfaction rate among passengers.
Personalization is a buzzword of the moment – what does personalization mean for SITAONAIR?
Dom: Our IFC portfolio holds personalization at its heart. The current, intense focus on speed and bandwidth will become immaterial – what you do with it and the unique, brand-specific experience airlines are able to give passengers, will become the key differentiator. As digital aviation and data specialists, we help airlines achieve this by providing them with intelligent solutions to harness, and make sense of, passenger profile data, so that they can deliver that individualized service.
A key example of how we do this, is where we incorporate an airline’s existing frequent flier program into the Internet ONAIR portal functions.
We expertly integrate Internet ONAIR within an airline’s existing customer relationship management (CRM) system, linking it to a vast source of passenger profile data for airlines. With this capability, our Internet ONAIR-enabled airlines can promote a tailored Wi-Fi price plan for specific passengers, depending on where they’re seated, such as business or first class, along with offers and online content based on passenger budget, search histories, or shopping preferences.
Internet ONAIR also has the flexibility to offer destination services, such as hotel, taxi or car hire booking functionality, tourist attraction guides and deals, to really enrich and make the most of the passenger’s inflight time.
For cabin crews, our fully digital CrewTab gives onboard staff easy access to real-time passenger information via touchscreen. The tablet application enables connected cabin crews to quickly discover passengers’ favorite meals and duty free items, even their birthday or past customer service issues or preferences, so they can be truly proactive, responsive and tailored in how they serve each individual customer.
What are you personally looking forward to at APEX EXPO 2017?
Dom: As SITAONAIR’s VP of Strategy, I am very much looking forward to sharing our passion for the connected aircraft and passenger experience with attendees, and our pioneering vision for the open cabin, with all of its benefits. As an attendee, it will be undoubtedly interesting to see the latest passenger experience developments and trends from across the industry – and in California, the US’ innovation epicenter.
Where can attendees meet SITAONAIR?
Dom: At booth 429. We’d be thrilled to discuss how our 100% digital aviation expertise can help you deliver the promise of the high-speed broadband experience. And be sure to flex your creative muscles on our interactive Internet ONAIR demo, #MyONAIRportal, by designing your very-own, inflight Wi-Fi hub.