Elina Zheleva, Design Thinking Coach and Consultant and guest blogger at this year’s World Low Cost Airlines Congress tells us what the Nike plane says about passenger experience and how this should influence discussion at AirXperience next week.
I was preparing for the AirXperience conference in London on 16-17 September when I hit on this article. Yes the Nike plane! Fanciful as it is, it touches on a few important trends. I’d like to see these trends discussed at the conference and I’ll be actively looking for forums that do so. Here are the three trends and the keynotes, panels and roundtables that I think address them:
1. Extreme focus on passengers
The Nike plane is designed for athletes and athletes only. Every detail is examined through the lense of a multitude of experts – physicians, coaches, sleep specialists and most importantly users. Every new design element is responding to a real need – recovering injuries, improving physical readiness or preparing new game tactics. No fancy design, just useful design.
User-centered design requires careful research, so I’d like to hear which airlines and airports are active in this area, what are the tools they use and what are the lessons learned? I’m expecting the full second day to be relevant here and I’m particularly looking forward to:
- Airport Experience Board Room Meeting, moderated by Jerry Angrave at 4pm on 16 September
- Paul Priestman’s keynote speech at 9:00am on 17 September
2. Focus on “extreme” passengers
The solutions proposed for the Nike plane are valid for athletes, who are a rather “extreme” group of passengers. The research done on new materials, structures and services, however, is tremendously useful to all developing new cabin solutions. Looking at the extremes often makes it easier to uncover unmet needs, which are valid for the mass user too.
Related to this, I want to see which are the categories of future passengers airlines and airports are focusing on. And while I don’t see a session on aging passengers, which is a miss, I see a few promising talks on the young hyperconnected traveller, namely:
- “How to meet the demands of the next generation traveller” Peter Elbers, COO and Deputy CEO KLM at 2pm on 16 September.
- Panel “How to utilise mobile to enhance the experience of the future traveller” with Japan Airlines, Emirates and United at 1:40pm on 17 September.
3. Radical partnerships
Last but not least the Nike plane is not just another design solution, it’s a business solution too. By introducing the co-branded aircraft cabin, an airline can transfer some of the cost to another brand. Apart from cost-sharing, such partnership could be beneficial for the exchange of know-how. Choosing the right brand means also choosing a partner that has expertise, which your airline or airport doesn’t have – retail, design, payments, etc. It’s about combining forces and providing more personalisation options to passengers.
In this section, I’ll be looking at:
- the 11:30am roundtables on 16 September on IFE and payments, and
- the keynote speech “Inflight advertising” by Kirk Adams from Global On Board Partners at 2:20pm on 16 September.
What are you looking forward to?
About the author: Elina Zheleva is an Independent Passenger Experience Expert and a vivid supporter of Human-Centered Design. She is the editor and curator of Airport Hub & Passenger eXperience. Her new initiative is Runway.vc – an event for aviation experts and air travel startups. Previously she has worked in the European Aviation Safety Agency taking various roles in planning and controlling.