Jon Norris, senior director of marketing at Panasonic Avionics, talks Internet of Business through the kind of in-flight entertainment experience that forward-looking airlines should aim to give their passengers.
An occasional series of vendor perspectives on the world of connected business – because it’s all about making new connections and starting new conversations.
At home, on-demand film and TV services and boxset bingeing have transformed our viewing habits. But when it comes to in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC), today’s passenger experience can either be a smooth journey or a bumpy ride. So much depends on the chosen airline, the aircraft deployed, and the equipment onboard.
The goal of most airlines, however, is to move in-flight entertainment much closer to the on-demand experience that passengers enjoy at home, according to Jon Norris, senior director of marketing at Panasonic Avionics. They want to offer the same choice, easy navigation, and flexibility to flit between content.
“It’s a matter of passenger engagement,” he says. “Developments in terrestrial film and television content, coupled with the pace of change in consumer electronics, mean that passenger expectations are extremely high. So for every airline today, a big priority is bringing a world of on-demand, real-time digital entertainment onboard.
“It’s a big part of showing passengers that they matter to an airline, and it’s an important factor in keeping them loyal to that carrier.”
When Norris says ‘real time’, he means it: Panasonic provides airlines with a global live in-flight television service, eXTV, so that passengers never miss out even if they’re at 30,000 feet. The service allows them to keep up to speed on current affairs and major sporting events, with coverage from big names such as Al Jazeera, BBC World News, and CNN.
This eXTV service can be delivered to a passenger’s seat-back screen or to their own mobile device.
And this brings us to multi-screening, another habit from home that airlines are keen to bring onboard. For example, a passenger might want to keep track of the Wimbledon final on their seat-back, while catching up on work emails on their laptop, connected to the inflight WiFi. At the same time, they might be using a messaging app on their smartphone to make arrangements for when they land.
Read more: IoT set to transform the airport experience
A key element of engagement is personalisation, says Norris: making sure that each passenger has access to the kinds of content they enjoy the most, perhaps via a personalised playlist they’ve compiled ahead of their trip, courtesy of the airline’s app.
“Once on board, they can simply pair their mobile device with the IFEC system to take advantage of the entertainment they’ve lined up for themselves,” says Norris, adding that playlists can be saved and resumed on the next flight.
Usage data is at the heart of this personalisation, he explains. In simple terms, information about what passengers choose to watch can be used to create recommendations about other content they might enjoy, in just the same way that services like Netflix and Hulu keep viewers coming back for more, with suggestions that are tailor-made to their preferences.
This could save money for airlines too, says Norris. “With data and analytics, it’s possible to see what entertainment content has low viewership and remove it from the system, resulting in reduced licensing fees.
Over time, he expects more airlines to move away from the practice of block-purchasing content, and towards payment based on individual views – a trend that’s already taking off.
In short, it’s clear that what passengers expect from IFEC is an experience that’s welcoming, familiar, and personal – and it’s likely that, where possible, they’ll choose the airline that best delivers that experience.
Disclosure: Panasonic is a Partner at Internet of Business’ Internet of Aviation event later this year.
Coming later this year: Our annual Internet of Aviation event will take place on 30 & 31 October 2018, at the Sofitel London Heathrow. Attendees from airlines, airports, and air traffic control organisations, along with retail and OEM partners, will convene to discuss the IoT from the perspectives of both passenger experience and operational efficiency. Welcome onboard.