Content, Connectivity, and Revenue: The Digitalization of the In-Flight Experience

Joe Bentley< Joe Bentley
04/21/21 4 MIN READ

Digital transformation was once all about replacing manual processes with digital ones—something that has had a huge impact on the airline industry.

But it’s time now for a new kind of transformation, one that sees us replacing old digital systems with the next generations of technology. For airline passengers, this transformation will improve the in-flight experience; for airlines, it means new opportunities for monetization.

Why? Passengers expect a personalized, digital experience, but they’re consuming content in a whole new way, too. Let’s put this in perspective: passengers experience 1.4 trillion minutes of content each year—pre-COVID.

That figure gives us a fantastic preview of the potential of digital transformation and the goals it can support. Especially once we’re past the pandemic, the in-flight experience will be key to keeping those passengers happy and engaged. But while an updated passenger experience is important, it’s how you monitor engagement that’s going to make the real difference. Collecting engagement data not only helps give valuable insight into how passengers are entertained during a flight, but also offers a number of ways to increase revenue.

How Can Airlines Offer Something New?

The entertainment industry is in a global streaming war. It’s hard to tell if this is something caused by the pandemic, or whether it’s just been accelerated by it. What we do know is that people are flocking to the platforms that support their new lifestyles. They expect immersive, personalized experiences from the content they consume and this is something that will spill over into our industry.

The digitalization of the in-flight experience

Engaging passengers who expect these new experiences all comes down to the content you put in front of them. We’ve already seen how live sports can increase engagement: 70% of passengers with access to the Panasonic Avionics Sports 24 service during a flight watched the Super Bowl and 80% watched the FIFA World Cup. Live sports offer something new to the passenger but also create a togetherness like no other entertainment. There’s a shared experience that comes from live sports that’s hard to replicate with other forms of content.

Personalizing the Experience

New types of content are important, but passengers have come to expect a personalized offering that spans different platforms and even screens since this is how they consume content at home. While traveling, this goes beyond convenience and offers an immersive experience that can include value-added services such as internet connectivity. As this level of digital transformation takes hold, passengers will come to expect an experience that’s more than just entertainment. This opens up a number of opportunities for new ways to drive revenue—including retail, targeted advertising, and up-sells.

Simply putting great content in front of your passengers is just one part of the puzzle, however. Personalizing the digital experience and understand engagement levels in order to deliver revenue for your airline requires data.

Optimizing Your Content

Data can help solve the problem of how you optimize those 1.4 trillion engagement minutes. NEXT Insights gives you a deeper understanding of the way your passengers consume content, and that empowers you to improve their experience and increase the ability to monetize what you put in front of them.

This creates a digital ecosystem of content, connectivity, and revenue, which can reach beyond the time spent in the air. For example, through targeted in-flight entertainment, a Companion App, and an online experience that all work together, engaging passengers becomes much easier before, during, and after a flight while also allowing you to find new opportunities to drive revenue.

“Next-level digital transformation is about more than just a single piece of technology, it’s about creating an ecosystem that takes passengers on a journey that begins before they purchase their ticket and continues even after they land.”

Joe Bentley
Chief Technology Officer at Panasonic Avionics Corporation

For example, Aeroméxico uses a revamped mobile app and multilingual Facebook Messenger bot to give passengers flight information and to answer their questions. This is great for the passenger experience, and for the airline; the way people use both of those platforms provides important data on travel habits, frequently asked questions, and the needs of the individual. This allows Aeroméxico to use both platforms for personalized up-selling and cross-selling of flight add-ons and retail products.

A digital architecture that works together in this way is the next level of digital transformation. A huge part of this puzzle is the ability to personalize content. We’ve found that 92% of passengers can recall an ad shown during a flight, and 49% have changed their minds about a product after seeing an ad. By putting only relevant content, ads, and products in front of passengers, you can improve revenue both before, during, and after a flight.

In order to deliver the content and data that leads to revenue, you need the right platform. Next-level digital transformation is about more than just a single piece of technology, it’s about creating an ecosystem that takes passengers on a journey that begins before they purchase their ticket and continues even after they land.

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