IFEC: more than just entertainment

IFEC: more than just entertainment

Panasonic Avionics’ senior director, corporate sales and marketing, Jon Norris explains how in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) offers airlines an opportunity to create a premium brand experience, plus all the revenues that come with it.

The airline industry is going through a period of rapid technological change, with brands big and small, premium and economy, racing to have the very latest in onboard solutions. In-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) is playing an integral part in that change having evolved from a relatively one-dimensional means of limited passenger entertainment to a key element of creating a premium, bespoke passenger experience.

For airlines themselves, the value of IFEC goes even further. Advances in seat design, connectivity and real-time data analysis are just some of the factors which have led to significant improvements in operational efficiency. Better customer targeting and in-flight optimisation enhance an airline’s ability to generate ancillary revenues on every route, and increasingly innovative IFEC technology solutions position airline brands as both future-facing and highly desirable.

A truly impactful IFEC solutions partner needs to consider three key airline requirements: they must enable airlines to improve their efficiency, their passenger engagement, and their potential to generate new sources of revenue by providing cutting-edge, effective solutions.

Operational efficiency

After years of manual processes, significant advances in connectivity now enables operational efficiencies to be carried out while the aircraft is still in-flight. For example, ‘health checks’ in flight mean that airlines can monitor their fleet’s status on a minute-by-minute basis, ensuring that any maintenance requirements can be fulfilled as soon as the plane touches down, keeping turnaround times tight.

Panasonic Avionics’ Zero Touch technology enables real-time fleet performance tracking and flight path optimisation. Airlines are able to connect directly with their fleet through a customised dashboard, reducing the need for employees to physically interact with aircraft – increasing the efficiency of maintenance operations and saving them money.

But operational efficiency doesn’t just affect maintenance crews and the airline’s bottom line. Zero Touch technology can also be employed to enhance passenger experience. Real-time access to passenger data, software, media, and content updates enable airlines to deliver a relevant and personalised passenger experience every time, without the need for cumbersome manual upload of aircraft entertainment content via the traditional 30-day IFE content update cycle.

Passenger engagement

Today’s passengers expect to be able to use the same Wi-Fi and television services in the air as they do on the ground. They want the same real-time communication and entertainment options as they have at home, and the ability to use multiple screens at the same time at their leisure.

They want to be able to communicate with the rest of the world, and no longer see air travel as being a barrier. As an illustration of this, over 2 million SMS were sent by passengers over Panasonic’s service in just one month in 2016.

In order to make passengers’ experience of IFEC feel just like home, Panasonic provides the only global live in-flight television service with both news and sports, airing the NBA and the NFL on a regular basis, as well as major sports events such as Wimbledon or the Olympic Games. With such a wide offering now available on over 1,000 aircraft, it’s no surprise that around 1.4 million passengers tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

Any entertainment and connectivity solution should surprise and delight every customer, and feel completely woven into their wider experience of the airline. IFEC hardware integrated within a passenger seat has the power to completely redefine the customer experience.

Personalisation continues to drive future IFEC solution designs. One key factor in enabling passengers to fine-tune the on-board experience to their unique preference is a Companion App. By integrating companion app functionality into an existing airline app, airlines have the ability to engage passengers throughout the entire travel thread, integrating all aspects of the passenger experience from pre-flight to flight to post flight.

Using companion app functionality, Passengers can begin preparing for their flight by reviewing available content as well as customise their playlists and begin accessing Shopping and Hospitality. Users can view catalogues and promotions, create shopping carts and even pre-order products or Wi-Fi before stepping on the plane.

Once onboard, passengers simply pair their personal device with the IFEC system to create a unique, personalised experience. Passenger data is synchronised and customers can immediately begin using their previously placed orders, playlists and more. Passengers can also begin enjoying a second-screen experience that they might be accustomed to at home. While consuming media at the seatback, they can still enjoy full functionality on their device; they can shop, post to social media, view the moving map, and more.

Once on the ground, connecting gate information and contextual destination information such as best modes of transportation, weather, and more are made available. Playlists can be resumed on the next flight, recommendations can become more accurate, and preferences can be stored. For airlines, all the usage data can be translated into easily digestible, actionable insights thanks to POPULAR, Panasonic’s data and analytics service.

High quality, integrated IFEC solutions such as this sit at the core of passenger experience, and can be instrumental in encouraging advocacy and building the reputation of the airline brand itself.

Ancillary revenue

As well as improving passenger experience and building a positive reputation for the airline, a properly optimised IFEC solution should be fully aligned with an airline’s business model and commercial objectives, offering a tailored approach to marketing and paid for content.

Panasonic Avionics’ Zero Touch technology enables real-time fleet performance tracking and flight path optimisation

Panasonic Integrated Marketing Service (PIMS) is the industry’s most advanced global marketing platform and the largest in-flight marketing solution in the world, reaching 1.3 billion travellers a year.

The service enables airlines to undertake target marketing by seat class, route, device, language, and passenger data. With no changes to on-board media, it can increase or decrease ad loads, cap the frequency of marketing campaigns, and deliver detailed usage data in real-time.

This flexible and responsive approach to marketing allows airlines to optimise promotions for a wide range of optional services, partnerships, loyalty programmes, and paid advertising all within a compelling passenger experience.

By simply considering these three essential features of any IFEC system as a backbone, an airline is able to ensure that they are getting the very most and best out of their connectivity and entertainment systems. IFEC provides airlines with a real opportunity to create a premium brand experience and the advocates, and revenues, that come with it.


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