Getting personal – how BYOD is influencing the passenger experience
By François Rodriguez, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer
Digital travellers prefer his/her own devices for a more connected inflight experience
Passengers who want much more choice and personalisation from their inflight experience are increasingly switching to use of their own devices during flights.
New findings from SITA’s annual Passenger IT Trends reveal that passengers are enjoying their inflight entertainment experience, but are more likely to connect through the increasing number of devices they have brought with them.
A trend for a second screen is also emerging, with 10% of passengers who took part in the survey switching between their own devices and seat-back screens during their flights.
And it’s good news for the passenger experience – with 92% of those polled who watched a film or TV inflight saying it was ‘a positive experience’.
Looking to the future, 65% of passengers would prefer to access entertainment via their own devices – providing a real opportunity for airlines to increase connectivity with passengers via the medium in which they prefer to communicate.
Innovation – what passengers want and what airlines can offer
Airlines have always looked at ways to keep passengers entertained and engaged during their flights, and have been playing inflight movies for more than 90 years, with the first inflight movie shown on Aeromarine Airways in 1921.
There was an explosion of interest in personal devices with the launch of the iPhone in 2007 – pushing airlines to move forward their inflight connectivity projects – and in 2014 GSM, Wi-Fi and W-IFE inflight were in service on the same flight. Since then, the popularity of BYOD and passenger connectivity has been growing.
Airlines are increasingly aware of the changing needs of the digital traveller – as well as their desire to be constantly connected – and are building this into future investment programmes. 75% are now planning to invest in inflight Wi-Fi services for passengers, and 70% are investing in wireless services to enable their crew.
Unsurprisingly, the survey also revealed that the move to BYOD accompanies a rise in the number of passengers travelling with smartphones. Of those polled, 86% said they take at least one onboard, a rise of more than a third in 12 months.
The potential of inflight connectivity
The shift to BYOD is a major game changer for the airline industry. Seat-back screens add both weight and cost to an aircraft fit. Indeed, some national carriers have even begun to remove seat-back screens from some of their fleets.
BYOD also improves the potential for better inflight connectivity and a more tailored passenger experience. Passengers can interact directly with an airline social media team and information can be passed to cabin crew, who can then respond accordingly – whether that be offering a service or solving a problem.
This joined-up thinking also carries through to building brand loyalty through tailored offers made to passengers based on their online behaviour. Passenger safety can also be improved with reports of potential turbulence alerts being sent straight through to personal devices.
This understanding of what will be relevant to a specific passenger at a specific time, will ultimately deliver a more relaxing and enjoyable experience during the flight and build brand loyalty. BYOD is a key enabler, so it’s great to see both its rise and acceptance.
As the digital revolution gains pace, airlines are increasingly digitizing their crew. Once connected, the next phase for airlines is to develop innovative apps and communication channels, such as SITAONAIR’s CrewTab that allow cabin crew with tablets to differentiate the passenger experience, enabling more choice and personal and interactive connections.