spafax-journey-cycle

Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TRENDS IN IFE THESE DAYS?

For airlines who are already involved with content as part of the customer experience, the proliferation of digital and social networking platforms are starting to provide new opportunities to use and co-ordinate content to engage with customers, inspire purchase decisions and build a return. Having invested in content-on-demand to deliver passengers more content, we know have the realization that it is much more than movies on an airplane – it’s about getting an engaged customer in the bargain and staying with that customer for much longer than the length of the journey.

Airlines have the audience – and the media – to build a 360 degree coordinated, integrated experience tactically delivering content at selected touchpoints of the journey. This experience can leverage engagement into increased revenues, cross-selling and cost savings.

Q: SO IF CONTENT IS MORE THAN MOVIES ON AN AIRPLANE, WHAT IS IT?

It’s still movies, TV and audio on airplanes – but it’s also community, social media, e-zines, loyalty newsletters, advertiser funded programming, microsites, etc on AND off the airplane. Content is no longer confined to the airplane as so many more channels to the consumer are now possible, throughout the entire airline journey cycle.

Q: WHAT’S THE “AIRLINE JOURNEY CYCLE”?

It’s the linked system of experiences that take place at every step of a customer’s contact with an airline brand. It’s the connection between the real-time activity of travel with the planning or ideas that inspired it: the purchasing of flights, of products, the information, communication and entertainment onboard. It’s the time spent at the destination and the memories that accompany you on the return

Q: WHERE – AND HOW – DOES CONTENT FIT INTO THE AIRLINE JOURNEY CYCLE?

Simply put: everywhere. Content bridges platforms and media, connecting in-flight experiences with online and offline “between-flight” experiences. It allows airlines or brands to weave messages into the traveler experience. For example automotive clients of ours do this with everything from ‘design’ in bespoke furniture at the lounge, to display advertising airside, in print and video, branded content on-screen and interactive microsites for customer acquisition

In the case of the airline’s own message, an online duty free “magalogue” that pops up when you book an international ticket may accelerate passenger revenue away from the airport shop to the onboard shop or a loyalty e-zine sent out to frequent flyers will inspire travel thoughts through any number of well written and illustrated travel pieces . These connections might be used by the airline to increase sales of surplus inventory..

Q: SO IT’S ALL ABOUT CREATING CONNECTIONS

Actually, it’s more about creating engagement via those connections. Engagement happens naturally when customers interact with content that fits into their lifestyle or the mode they are in and which is intuitive to their frame of mind. Essentially, engagement can happen throughout the cycle, if the media tools chosen to communicate it are sympathetic.

As providers of content, revenues and engagement to the world’s airlines, we’re observing the ongoing changes to our mediascape. The value we add should increasingly be derived from our understanding of where content fits in the cycle and where there is both transactional and opportunity value.

Q: CAN IT BE CUSTOMIZED TO INDIVIDUALS?

Airlines have an amazing “addressability advantage” and already know a lot about their customers due to sophisticated loyalty programs and the nature of booking a flight, for example.

This gives them the opportunity to engage the customer in ever more substantive ways as they expand their capacity for trip planning and trip sharing. They can use these advantages to build better content bridges, say, between consuming travel content then booking flights, or flying then sharing travel experiences, or any other pair of stages in the cycle.

Q: IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA

Some airlines are already using social media to engage with their customers on the ground but they could take it a lot farther, by using using Facebook and Twitter on mobile devices while they’re on trips to stay in touch or recommend restaurants, or letting customers form their own communities while on the aircraft. Inflight AVOD systems already allow for this – all that’s required is a change in attitude at the airline.

Q: WHAT’S NEXT?

I think we’re experiencing a convergence of factors that will see a complete rethinking of “IFE” over the next few years. Substantial changes to the economy, advertising, media, content, the advent of social media and user generated content – not to mention the advent of inflight broadband… mean exciting times for airline media, marketing and IFE.

If airlines haven’t yet begun to explore the concept of  “return on engagement,” they will soon!