Asian Aviation’s Emma Kelly addresses the new “E” in IFE – Engagement
An article by Emma Kelly in this month’s issue of Asian Aviation (p14) validates what we at Bluebox have been saying ever since our ‘More than IFE’ campaign several years ago – that IFE, or ‘in-flight entertainment’, has become a misnomer.
As Kelly reports: “For decades, IFE has been about entertainment, with in-flight video, including movies, series and short subject programming; audio and games keeping passengers entertained on their flights. Today, however, IFE is very much more than just entertainment. Rather, the ‘E’ in IFE is increasingly becoming more engagement than entertainment as airlines seek to capture their passengers’ interest, valuable data, and their long-term loyalty on short, medium and long-haul services, as well as boost revenues along the way.”
For the article, “E for Engagement”, Kelly spoke to industry analysts and solution providers, including Bluebox’s own Head of Marketing, Catherine Brown, for views on how wireless IFE systems are facilitating “a new era of passenger engagement.”
Demonstrating that Bluebox is already delivering engagement-led solutions via its Bluebox Wow wireless streaming platform, Brown cited the example of customer Jambojet, for which the solution is used purely for tourism and destination promotion. The airline’s Jambojet Destination Explorer provides information and travel tips across the customer journey, before, during and after the flight with real-time notifications via a passenger’s device.
Not surprisingly, a key focus of all airlines recovering the global pandemic is ancillary revenue generation, and onboard retail delivered by wireless streaming systems does this in a mode familiar to their customers. “Passengers are so used to online shopping from their devices these days, it’s no leap for them to buy their food and beverages and duty-free via their phones, connecting to the experience over a captive Wi-Fi network provided by Bluebox,” said Brown.
The ease and cost advantage of doing so over wireless from the airline’s perspective was also highlighted by Brown noting a particularly interesting project. Bluebox is providing a digital retail service to passenger devices using Bluebox Wow, and doing so in parallel to the airline’s embedded IFE system, which would be too costly and time-consuming to update to add order-to-seat retail.
The fact that passengers use their own devices on board also extends the possibility for engagement beyond the cabin. This “provides an opportunity to extend the reach of that in-flight engagement from the air to the ground…continuing the engagement and building that brand loyalty,” Brown said.
The pandemic may have hit the aviation sector hard, but the industry is emerging with real advances in the digitalisation of the cabin that will serve passengers well. “As passengers return to the air, they’ll be boarding with new, higher expectations of their digital engagement with airlines,” said Brown. With full connectivity onboard still a costly investment, especially in these times, a digital solution like those Bluebox develops is ideal for, as Brown says, “developing an engaging digital in-flight service which can push the limits of what can be done in an offline environment.”
“Much more than entertainment, we’re now delivering our customers a platform for providing an in-flight digital experience really only limited by imagination,” Brown suggested.