RX, the organiser of Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE), has announced details of its virtual Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) taking place this September.
The recent pandemic has been a catalyst for major social and economic changes, requiring the travel industry to adjust in order to meet the expectations of the ‘new normal’. As a result, new business models and revenue streams will be vital to react to these changes. It is against this backdrop that the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) returns to offer a programme of live conference sessions online as part of AIX and WTCE Virtual from 14-16 September.
The PEC programme will explore those passenger engagement strategies that will help to grow revenues as passengers return to the skies. There will be a focus on innovation and new thinking that will support airlines and their supply chains, as well as how to address consumer expectations for travel experiences that truly respond to their needs.
Leading experts representing the whole aviation industry from Airbus, Boeing, Panasonic Avionics, Heathrow Airport, Diehl Aviation, Inmarsat, Safran, BlueBox Aviation and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are confirmed to speak, with live Q&As set to follow each session, allowing attendees to gain further insight.
Innovations for the future
Digital interfacing has rapidly become the default way of doing business as we all seek to avoid touching communal surfaces and maintain social distancing. Travel, however, should also be about emotional connections and journeys that delight.
Launching the conference on the first day will be a panel discussion that focuses on putting passengers at the heart of each journey in the digital age. It will look at how the industry can safely bring the human touch back into flying and create new personal and people-centric experiences.
The panel discussion will be led by Simon Calder, travel correspondent at The Independent and a regular guest speaker on Sky News, BBC Breakfast and CNN, with other participants to include director of transport design at Seymourpowell and senior VP of guest experience at Accor Hotels Luc Gesvret.
New ideas for cabin interiors
The conference’s second panel will bring together aircraft interior experts to explore how passenger experience leaders are continuing to innovate new cabin environments and preparing to launch new routes, and even new airlines. The panel will be moderated by Avensis Aviation CEO Cristian Sutter and consist of:
* Ingo Wuggetzer, vice-president of cabin marketing at Airbus
* Juliane Trummer, vice-president of strategy & design at Mormedi
* Navdip Singh Judge, chief executive and founder of flypop
* Mariya Stoyanova, director of product development at JetBlue Airways
* Anne Bigand, director of passenger experience at Alstom
Concluding the first day will be a session on democratising air travel for passengers with disabilities. Aviation accessibility consultant at Flying Disabled Christopher Wood MBE, Sara Marchant, service manager for passengers requiring support at Heathrow Airport, head of research and technology at FACC Rene Adam, professional wheelchair tennis player and participant at the Paralympics Tokyo 2020 Nico Langmann, and Sebastian Petry, director of innovation at Panasonic Avionics, will come together to discuss how breaking down the barriers to make air travel dignified for all requires innovation and mindset changes across the industry.
Providing the tools for recovery
The pandemic has fast-tracked new thinking on materials and manufacturing techniques, as well as the adoption of technologies and methodologies that underpin innovation and collaboration.
The first session on the second day of the virtual conference will see a panel of experts focus on how new tools are underpinning the industry’s recovery, led by co-founder of Cecence Samantha Brown, vice-president of business development at e2ip technologies Roy Bjorlin and ZAL CEO Roland Gerhards. They will answer questions such as how professionals can harness these new components and processes to transform the cabin experience and how these approaches are changing the way the passenger experience community collaborates.
Sustainability still at the top of the agenda
For many in a post-pandemic world, reducing the cabin’s environmental footprint is top of the agenda for recovery. Climate change is demanding disruptive thinking from the entire aviation industry and the cabin community has a vital role to play in effecting the necessary paradigm shift. Moderated by Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at Flight Global, this session will welcome Diehl Aviation’s head of innovation & technology Jan-Boris Philipp and Doy Design founder Gary Doy, as well as senior representatives from Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Collins Aerospace. They will consider how airlines need to engage with passengers on the industry’s sustainable journey and more.
The final session of Day Two will see Chris Rogerson, VP of global sales at Inmarsat Aviation, Safran Cabin’s senior manager of UX design & innovation connectivity, Ron Verweij, and a senior representative from SITA for aircraft join IATA’s head of passenger process & facilitation, Celine Canu in a session on strategies for a digital revolution in the cabin. They will debate the strategies airlines and their partners should adopt to meet travellers’ expectations for a more connected – and touchless – inflight experience.
Disrupting the industry for a brighter future
The penultimate PEC session on Day Three will consider whether passenger engagement as a service can be a new revenue driver. Offering retail services before and after the journey is an opportunity waiting to be explored, according to the panel experts: Kian Gould, founder and chairman at Omnevo; retail director at Retail inMotion Manuel Hübschmann; KrisShop CEO Chris Pok and a senior representative from Bluebox Aviation. They will discuss the key digital and business strategies that support this transformation, as well as highlighting what can be learned from recent digital travel initiatives.
The final session will help attendees prepare for the future of disruptive innovation, with expert advice from Dr Stathis Kefallonitis, founder and president of branding.aero, , JSX director of marketing & communications Ben Kaufman and a senior representative from Hybrid Air Vehicles. They will cover a range of topics from the initiatives to bring electric and hybrid electric or hydrogen cell aircraft to service and how these could inform experiences in commercial cabins. The discussion will also address whether new business jet and air vehicle business models and services compete with or complement the commercial fleet and the extended journey.
Earlier this month, AIX announced details of the airline buyers and exhibitors set to attend its new virtual event.
Representatives from more than 60 airlines have already expressed their interest in attending the virtual event, including Air France, Emirates, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways, as well as suppliers such as Geven SpA, MGR Foamtex, Inmarsat Global Ltd, Safran and Sabeti Wain Aerospace.