The lowering of air fares, growth in technology-driven onboard services and the rise of premium economy are just some of the major trends influencing the global travel industry today.
As new travel markets open in previously less developed regions, there are now more passengers than ever before. Travel operators must understand the changing travel landscape and respond accordingly.
Price is still the deciding factor when consumers plan their air travel. They will stop at nothing to find the best deal. According to latest insight and statistics from travel specialist Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation, travelers search an average of 48 times on eight different sites before booking a flight. Competition between airlines is therefore extremely fierce, and has seen global air ticket prices decline on average by 8% when compared to last year.
Particular regions have experienced more acute price drops throughout 2015. For travelers interested in going from North America to Asia-Pacific, economy air fares fell on average 13%. In Europe, the cost of an economy ticket between European countries is now on average 17% cheaper than in 2014. This change in the cost of airfare has had a direct impact on the choice of quality available to travelers of all budgets. Yet, it is clear to see that consumers still want the best service their money can buy.
Responding to consumer expectations, airlines are ensuring unparalleled luxury is available in both first and business classes, with menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs, premium ingredients regionally sourced and extended passenger comfort. However, this has led to increased focus on savings at the back of the aircraft.
There is also an increasing trend for passengers who are willing to pay a little more for something better than economy. A few airlines have tried to fill that middle market product gap simply by adding a few inches of legroom and a couple of perks such as welcome drinks, speedy boarding and noise-cancelling headphones to what is effectively the same product they have in the economy cabin.
However, other airlines are taking a more ambitious approach in catering to the needs of entrepreneurs, economy business travelers, and more affluent leisure travelers. They are introducing a true, differentiated premium economy class. This offering will include a variety of unique perks unavailable in standard economy, such as free food and drink, superior inflight entertainment and increased technology onboard.
Generation Y are synonymous with the latest technological developments and integrate their lives with smart technology wherever possible. Technology and infrastructure advances mean that personalized travel will no longer be limited to booking a flight or hotel via a smartphone. Airlines are taking note of this trend and are striving for a personalized ‘end to end’ experience. Travelers will be able to seamlessly pre-order inflight meals, book their air fare, receive traffic alerts for the journey to the airport and select inflight entertainment, all from their smartphone. Affording travelers this complete package will influence their buying habits and go a long way to enhancing the overall passenger experience.
The World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) represents the ideal platform to discuss these current and future trends, plus much more when it returns to Hamburg on April 5-7, 2016. Trends will also be debated at the Passenger Experience Conference, held on April 4, which provides delegates with an ideal forum for discussion on cabin innovation and profitability strategies.
The exhibition will offer a unique platform for professionals from across the air and rail industries to meet over 300 industry suppliers and source the latest onboard products, such as Montezuma’s line of luxury chocolates, Gastro Culinary Innovation’s hot savory snacks and LSG Sky Chef’s range of catering, onboard retail, equipment and logistics solutions. Visitors will have the opportunity to attend a wide range of networking events and view demonstrations from world-class chefs.
Building on its successful launch at last year’s show, the Travel Retail Zone will return. Reflecting the huge growth this sector has experienced in recent years, the Travel Retail Zone allows buyers to meet with suppliers of sale-on-board items and discuss how they can boost their offering to appeal to the modern traveler. The Travel Retail Trail will also lead attendees to those exhibitors around the show floor with a travel retail offering, making it easy for them to plan their visit and come away with plenty of inspiration.
Visitors can also take advantage of the Taste of Travel theater, which returns to the show to promote the latest innovations in onboard services and travel catering. Some of the industry’s most sought-after names will provide interactive demonstrations, thought-provoking presentations, tasting and sampling opportunities.
Kicking off Passenger Experience Week 2016, the highly regarded Passenger Experience Conference runs on Monday 4th April, the day before the exhibition opens. In-depth breakout sessions will highlight the trends impacting cabin interiors and passenger comfort, passenger entertainment and connectivity, hospitality, service and retail. After an information-packed day at the conference, delegates can join exhibitors and visitors at the Industry Networking Party where an evening of entertainment and cocktails will allow them to network in a relaxed environment.
As part of Passenger Experience Week 2016, WTCE is co-located with Aircraft Interiors Expo, the world’s largest event dedicated to sourcing the latest innovations, technologies and products for the cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and passenger comfort industries.
To register for free entry to the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo and Aircraft Interiors Expo, please visit: www.worldtravelcateringexpo.com/register