Amenities Roundup: Emotional intelligence
“Travel is in our nature. It feeds our soul and it was greatly missed.” That’s how Australian inflight product designer Buzz Products eloquently sums up the post-pandemic yearning for travel after two years of COVID-19-related restrictions.
Suppliers of amenity kits and comfort items surveyed by PAX International all agree: traveling sparks emotions, and airlines must ensure that they don’t lose the personal connection with their customers onboard and make every effort to reignite their passion for travel. Post-COVID era travel can be stressful, with mask-wearing and sanitation uppermost in the minds of many travelers, even as restrictions ease and leisure travel makes a long-awaited comeback.
So how are the suppliers tackling this emotional aspect of travel? Even the (formerly) humble amenity kit can enhance the much-needed feeling of passenger wellbeing and evoke pleasant memories of their trip.
Manoj Pridhanani, Chief Design Officer of Spanish supplier Kaelis World, says that amenity kits have a major role to play in shaping the passenger experience. “Airlines play a huge role in engaging the passengers right from the beginning of their trip. The comfort items onboard help create a unique and memorable experience and the amenity kit is a gift the passenger will cherish… The amenity kit has garnered increased popularity over the years and today it's an integral part of shaping the overall guest experience.”
Kaelis ensures it includes the five elements of “fun, function, form, fragrance and fashion” when it creates its kits, working hand in hand with the airline and adding these unique details to the comfort items.
Meanwhile, Buzz believes that fragrance is more than a beauty product, as scent can be a memory trigger, as well as a form of self-care, relaxation and stress relief. The company cites the example of Emirates’ Byredo Wellness Kit, which includes Chamomile Sleep Oil and Pillow Mist to help create a soothing, calm and restful environment. In addition, Acqua Di Parma’s signature Colonia fragrance aims to provide a touch of Italian luxury onboard Etihad, helping to evoke memories of Italian adventures.
Alison Wells, Co-Director of Plane Talking Products, thinks that the flight should be “a full sensory experience” in the post-pandemic era: “Passenger wellbeing is at the forefront of everything in our sector, particularly since the pandemic. The flight is an essential part of a holiday experience and we have all missed this over the last couple of years. With travel being restricted during the pandemic, people are recognizing the importance to their mental and physical wellbeing of being able to get away from it all and see and do things that nourish the soul. Having the time to recharge and relax is a must-have now, not just a nice-to-have. It’s important that any product onboard supports this – that could be a wonderful scent in your amenity pack to help relax or reinvigorate, a super-soft blanket or a delicious taste of local cuisine. The flight should be a full sensory experience that we remember long afterwards – memories evoked by tasting… and smelling... feeling like that again.”
Wells notes that “really simple things” like fun slogans, choosing different colors and rotating items to keep the amenity kits fresh can make them much more interesting and memorable.
Roland Grohmann, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner of Hong Kong-based amenity kit specialist FORMIA, agrees that adding value to the amenity kit is a key consideration. “At FORMIA, we believe that every moment from when a traveler closes their front door to when they arrive at their destination has the potential to define their overall travel experience. That’s why we devote so much time to curating products and concepts that will add real value to and enhance the customer experience, to make each moment more meaningful.
“In the new normal, we understand that passengers expect not only safety and comfort throughout their journey, but amenities must also consider and cater for their wellbeing, with functionality and sustainability always in mind. With advancements in technology, a more digitalized passenger journey and fewer human interactions, the need for beautiful, nurturing and consciously designed amenity products which provide an extended, purposeful connection to the airline and brand is stronger than ever.”
To this end, FORMIA focuses on including ethical and socially responsible brands that have a true mission and impact strategy centered around environmental and social sustainability.
One example is its recent collaboration with Delta Air Lines for its Delta One amenities program, where FORMIA supported the partnership between Delta and Mexican apparel brand Someone Somewhere, a certified B Corporation, and natural skincare brand Grown Alchemist.
Someone Somewhere combines traditional Mexican handcrafts with innovative products, working with artisans across the country’s most underprivileged states and using production processes that eliminate waste. Grown Alchemist shares Delta’s enhanced focus on wellbeing, with each product thoughtfully developed to offer passengers a unique wellness experience.
“The result was a collaboration between purposeful partners who share social and environmental commitments which we understand are incredibly important to passengers, to drive a lasting, positive impact,” Grohmann says.
Sustainability is certainly a major theme among other inflight equipment suppliers, and particularly the concept of working with local partners for sourcing, led by airlines wanting to offer more sustainable products with a lower carbon footprint as well as the passenger wanting to feel a connection to home. Plane Talking Products is working with a number of brands that are local to its airline customers who want to offer differentiation and thoughtful product choices in the journey experience.
Also pursuing a localization strategy is German supplier skysupply, which created customized, collectible amenity kits for TAP Air Portugal’s Business Class in partnership with Portuguese brand Castelbel, a traditional manufacturer of hand-crafted soaps in colorful packaging. Wolfgang Bücherl, Managing Director and Partner, says that Castelbel produced a fragrant sachet made of cork, a typical product from Portugal, which could be used as a scent dispenser in your wardrobe. The bookmarker enclosed in the sachet picks up the colorful packaging designs.
Bücherl notes the importance of products creating memories and having a second use, which he believes is particularly important for children’s amenity kits, which are designed to be gifts for younger passengers and taken away after the flight.
Significantly, as skysupply works on new tenders, Bücherl observes a trend towards airlines pampering the passenger and giving them a nice memory of the flight, not a trend to reduce or give less.
Recycling and reuse are also important to FORMIA. A recent collaboration with Qatar Airways introduced French perfumer Diptyque for the first time onboard, with highly collectible Diptyque-branded amenity bags and bespoke gift boxes for premium passengers. Alongside the exclusive products inside, the kits included eyeshades and socks made from 100 percent recycled PET fabrics carrying the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification, with the aim of bringing conscious luxury and wellness to Qatar Airways passengers.
And last year, FORMIA partnered with JetBlue at the time of their inaugural transatlantic route launch to introduce reusable pouches for its Core (Economy Class) passengers. With sustainability at the forefront during the design process, the innovative bags were created with the aim of reducing single-use plastics, thanks to a pouch made from non-toxic platinum silicon that doubled as a storage bag for travel essentials or to keep food fresh for longer – a higher value offering for Economy Class that passengers want to take home and use time and again.
FORMIA’s firm belief is that the more valuable amenity kits are for consumers, the more successful those kits are. “We view amenities as enablers that build comfort, pamper and support wellness during the passenger journey, whilst providing an extended connection to the airline and brand post-journey,” says Grohmann.
Leonard Hamersfeld, Director at Buzz, speaks of sustainability as “a necessity”, and the concept of “conscious luxury” takes this idea a step further. “Key is designing out waste, using renewable or recycled materials, and considering the entire product lifecycle,” he says. “Also important is a shift to value-based luxury, whereby luxury is more than simply impeccable design, but includes caring and taking action for the environment and supporting communities.” Hamersfeld gives the example of its RECLINER x American Airlines Sustainable Sleepwear program.
Buzz also observes a trend for airlines to offer “thoughtful gifts.” Etihad recently celebrated the UAE’s 50th National Day by creating a mindful program to present to travelers and help them join in with the festivities of the Golden Jubilee. Buzz supported Etihad to create gifts for travelers to facilitate the celebrations.
Meanwhile, Kaelis keeps the environment in mind as it makes a conscious choice of materials and packaging to minimize the carbon footprint. “If sustainability was an option prior to the pandemic, today it's a must, and very rightly so,” says Pridhanani.
"Our campaign, ‘Service excellence for a greener tomorrow: Mission ECO’, focuses on a circular economy, natural and recycled materials, reducing water consumption, closed-loop design and reduced CO2 emissions.”
Kaelis takes care to focus on young travelers too, as they are the consumers of the future. The kids’ kits designed by Kaelis aim to be educational and entertaining at the same time, “keeping the fun element at its max and sustainability at its core,” according to Pridhanani.
FlyFit mindful of a new skincare range
FlyFit is introducing at the WTCE show in Hamburg a vitamin- and mineral-enriched skincare range
FlyFit is introducing at the WTCE show in Hamburg a vitamin- and mineral-enriched skincare range designed to restore, energize and build immunity for travelers on the go.
Developed with FlyFit’s proven science technology, the wellness products allow passengers to benefit from key active ingredients proven to combat stress, anxiety, inflammation, jetlag and fatigue.
The result is described as a mindful 360-degree approach to wellness offered to passengers onboard and beyond. In addition, the packaging is eco-friendly and 100 percent recyclable.
Products include the Harmonizing Pillow Mist with lavender oil and the Plumping Hyaluronic Serum enriched with shea butter, designed to boost and hydrate the skin while passengers rest or sleep.
The Protective Vitamin C Cream with shea butter and lavender oil locks in the moisturizing benefits of the Serum and protects from inflammation and damage caused by free radicals in the air. For a sense of inner calm and peace, passengers can apply the Relax & Calm aroma roll-on with its light texture, therapeutic benefits and lasting aromatic scent of lavender oil. Finally, before resuming the day ahead, the Travel Vitamin Health Booster provides a dose of essential vitamins and minerals to boost immunity, cell function and skin health.