Hamburg events 2022 take off with Passenger Experience Conference
Hamburg – Day one of the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) and Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) kicked off this year with the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC). The morning began with a welcome speech from Event Director Polly Magraw.
“I wish all of you an enjoyable, interesting and fruitful day,” she said after welcoming the delegates back after a three-year hiatus. “This will be a really memorable event for us all.”
Then, Jennifer Newlands, Vice President, Head of Strategy, Brand, Content, Airbus, introduced Paul Wylde, Founder, CEO & Creative Director, paulwylde to the stage for the Renewal and Revolution session, sponsored by Reaktor.
Wylde discussed the way uncertainty continues to play a vital role in the passenger experience and in rebuilding the industry, with an eye on design and the changing habits of post-pandemic passengers.
While many at the gathering at this year’s Passenger Experience Conference were happy and grateful to again meet friends and colleagues, most of the morning was also spent discussing the tasks at hand. And the theme touched on again and again is the need to move beyond pandemic precautions to finding a way to connect with airline passengers flooding back to the airports, many with a different point of view not only on travel, but on their lives.
Such weighty subjects took up much of the morning and the keynote by Wylde.
“We have experienced loss,” he told the group. Tragically, he said loss of life has affected millions of people personally. He added those losses extend to losses of predictability, losses of revenue and losses of market share. He told stories of layoffs in his own company and what has been called “the great resignation” in the United States where a quarter of the population has left their jobs. Many, he said want work with more purpose. As a result, the nation is experiencing 10 million job openings while 8 million are unemployed.
Social media, and the now termed metaverse has caused people to “silo themselves” accessing information that is questioned and questionable. The rise of social media has “the makings of a near cultural revolution,” said Wylde.
Next, Newlands moderated the Revitalizing Air Travel segment with panelists Silvia Mosquera, Chief Commercial and Revenue Officer, TAP Portugal, and Anthony Woodman, Vice President – Customer Journeys & Reward, Virgin Atlantic, and joined by Wylde. The panelists spoke about what the airlines are doing to infuse their processes and strategies with human values.
Both airline professionals talked about need for personalization that the airline industry has been striving for years for the COVID-19 pandemic. Building airline brands like the efforts of JetBlue Airways and Virgin Atlantic that reach to passengers in personal ways leads to accomplishments large and small. Large campaigns like the effective Virgin Atlantic advertisement playing in the United Kingdom show an airline that embraces the diversity of its culture. In other ways it is accomplished within the company ranks like the new policy allowing employees at Virgin to display their tattoos, said Woodman.
“It speaks to a deeper set of values that are being projected,” Woodman said.
Mosquera talked about, recognizing the humanity of customers and showed a detailed video the airline’s efforts to add sustainability and reduce food service waste. The airline has reached out to passenger needs by making bookings available by app and through personal contact. Woodman cited changes to the Virgin Atlantic app as an example of “finding things that get in the way of customers and get them out of the way.”
The issue of sustainable solutions loomed over the gathering. Before getting down to details and technical requirements to accomplish the monumental task, Wylde said the industry should communicate its efforts from weight savings to new materials speaking the potential customers honestly and proudly.
“The challenge is, how do brands elegantly deliver that (message) with conviction?” he said.
In the afternoon session entitled Redefining the flight experience with a cabin that feels like home, moderated by Gary Weissel, Managing Officer, Tronos Aviation Consulting, speakers David Kondo, Head of Customer Experience & Product Design, Finnair, and Matt Round, Chief Creative Officer, Tangerine, presented an in-depth look at the inspirations and collaborative processes that went into Finnair’s €200 million investment to redefine modern travel on the 100-year-old airline’s long-haul routes.
The airline has a “rich history to look back and draw from,” explained Kondo. The goal of the cabin and lounge update was to remove anything unnecessary and bring a very Nordic aesthetic to both environments. This resulted in a cabin and lounge design with clean, simple, organic lines with elements of nature connected throughout. Finnair focused on mimicking the natural movement of lighting in the region which changes drastically from season to season and “plays a really important part in [Nordic] life.”
The design also brings warmth to the cabin and lounge via texture and traditional Nordic design elements. Thoughtful residential furniture pieces make both spaces “feel like home,” such as the lighting built into every Business Class seat, said Round. In the end, the collaboration between Finnish and Tangerine lead to updated cabin and lounge products that are “super Finnish, super Finnair,” Round explained.
The theme one one afternoon’s sessions was Radical Rethinking with companies involved in design. LIFT Aero Designs’ Daniel Baron showed the industry what could be accomplished with an aircraft with a wider fuselage which allowed seating in various classes to be employed throughout as opposed to the current industry class model the aircraft.
Called Paradym, the cabin design caters to new extended flights of 15 to 18 hours through a reconfigured cabin of a next generation of long-haul aircraft that would have a wider fuselage designed with a single aisle. This would give airlines more flexibility to change seat widths and add features like full recline throughout the cabin.
Anthony Harcup, Senior Director of Airline Experience at Teague talked narrow body cabins and the company’s work the Nordham on a cabin design called Elevate that could design elegant cabins while eliminating the traditional structural composites that would be used in floor mounting ottomans, side furniture and privacy features.
The company worked with NORDAM to use its Nbrace™ technology, to take away traditional restrictions, and allow multiple fixing points across the cabin and the cabin walls, said a description from Teague.
Bony Mathew, Vice President of Engineering and Quality at Pexco Aerospace showed the company the Airshield which is installed over the top of passenger air vents to redirect purified air from the aircraft’s HEPA filters to each passenger seat. The quiet device can reduce 76 percent of the shared air particles and increase the rate of “purged particles” by 230 percent according to Pexco. The easy to install system fits into current overhead vents.
Pexco has been granted a Project Specific Certification Plan (PSCP) number and its engineering team will spend the next 30 days completing further on-wing testing of AirShield onboard an A320 aircraft. Certification could come in July of this year.
The PEC was hosted at the Congress Center Hamburg. The sponsors for PEC include Boeing, which also sponsored the luncheon, Reaktor, Safran, Viasat, APEX, IFSA, STG Aerospace and PAX International and PAX Tech magazines.
The expo opens for WTCE and AIX is tomorrow, Tuesday June 14, at the Hamburg Messe. PAX International and PAX Tech are proud media partners for the events. You can find the printed edition PAX International WTCE Hamburg and PAX Tech AIX Hamburg at the media stand and at PAX booth #4F60. Follow along for coverage by PAX and daily updates.