The online ‘Virtual’ versions of Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE), hosted this year as a replacement for the in-person events, postponed due to Covid-related travel concerns, proved popular, according to RX, the show organisers. 3,016 ‘attendees’ registered on the online event platforms from 14-16 September, bringing together cabin interiors and onboard service professionals from across the globe.
Those professionals joined from 160 countries, with more than 148 airline, lessor and rail operating companies – including Qantas, Ryanair, Emirates, Lufthansa, LATAM, Ethiopian Airlines and American Airlines – joining the platform to meet with exhibitors and view products and conference sessions. Over the three days, the platform facilitated 1,124 meetings, helping create business opportunities for over 150 exhibiting companies.
One happy attendee was Thomas Bulirsch, CEO and founder of Aviationscouts GmbH, an online marketplace for buying and selling used aircraft passenger seats and interiors. “We had a fantastic number of online meetings during the event and developed a lot of new leads. It was just great touching base with many of our customers after such a long time without AIX and having a ‘virtual beer’ with some of them,” he said.
Alan Casey, VP of global sales, marketing and business development at Zim Aircraft Seating added, “It was a great platform, well constructed and easy to use. We had a high interest level in our product showcases, leading to drop-in meetings. The potential for future business is very high after participating at AIX Virtual 2021. It was great to see like-minded companies sharing data and exploring new avenues for collaboration.”
More than 1,931 hours of educational content viewed
A line-up of more than 100 industry experts provided 30 sessions of on-trend educational content across three conference streams on the event platforms. Visitors could tune into live and on-demand sessions, watching 1,931 hours of content over the course of the shows.
At the Passenger Experience Conference, attendees heard experts from All Nippon Airways (ANA), Airbus, JetBlue Airways, flypop, Panasonic Avionics, Heathrow Airport, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa Group, Icelandair, Diehl Aviation and Boeing discuss a range of topics including how to put the passenger at the heart of the journey in the digital age; collaborative cabin solutions; accessibility; the emergence of new cabins, new routes and even new airlines; and how the latest onboard service interiors solutions are addressing evolving passenger needs.
Conference sessions for the cabin interiors and onboard services community also ran across the three days, with AIX Sessions welcoming senior airline leaders and suppliers representing British Airways, Play, Flyr, Lufthansa Technik AG, Sekisui Kydex, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Cirium, Diehl Aviation, Safran and the Young African Aviation Professional Association. Panel members discussed the impact of the pandemic on aviation; the importance of collaborative thinking between the business aviation and commercial airline interior sectors; the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion; and the role start-ups can play in helping the industry meet sustainability targets.
The Taste of Travel sessions gave onboard services professionals insights from The Aviation Sustainability Forum, NowNewNext, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic, Westjet, Qatar Airways, LSG Group, and Singapore Airlines. Covering everything from sustainability trends to new catering concepts, food allergies and wellness, and careers and rebuilding passenger confidence, the sessions helped attendees understand the macro trends that will affect their businesses in the coming year, and how they can flex their business to meet changing passenger demands.
More than 825 products and solutions on display
The virtual events brought together more than 150 companies representing the full supply chain of cabin interior and onboard services, with more than 825 products on show on the online ‘show floor’. At AIX Virtual, these products spanned categories including IFEC hardware, connectivity and communications, new seating concepts and material and coating solutions. Meanwhile at WTCE Virtual, the latest food and drink products, food service equipment, hygiene, packaging and onboard retail solutions were on display.
First-time exhibitor, Sean Colombon, VP of ECO Wheat Collection, said the show met his expectations, adding, “It has been a wonderful event for us. From the meetings we had, literally every party showed positive interest in our products. We already have physical appointments planned with three of the parties. Every meeting for us has been a successful meeting.”
Silvan Elsesser, director of ELAG Group, added, “It has been possible to set up meetings ahead of time, which is great. Having ecological and hygienic solutions, there has been an overwhelming interest from the airlines we have spoken to. And the support from the organisers has been great. The platform has been very well explained, and tips were given as to how to get the most out of the event.”
Polly Magraw, event director at RX (Reed Exhibitions) said of the shows, “It has been fantastic to bring the AIX and WTCE experience to screens around the world in 2021. Over three packed days of networking and business meetings, industry professionals have been able to come together and share experiences, learnings, make valuable connections and hear from industry experts. Now more than ever, as the industry looks to recover, we can’t wait to return to Hamburg in 2022 to welcome and support our industry face to face.”