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Passengers sat on public transport

What kind of passenger are you?

By | Feature, Rail, Road, Transport | No Comments

Travelling can be a stressful experience – doubly so when you’re sharing your transport with multiple strangers. Over time, cultures develop their own form of travel etiquette. Sadly, not everyone seems to have got the memo, and a rogue passenger can make a stressful journey that much more trying. So we’ve come up with a comprehensive list of the different kinds of passenger you’ll encounter, and the best ways to deal with them. Of course, if we’ve missed any, feel free to let us know in the comments!

The spreader

Otherwise known as ‘man-spreading’, the passenger will – either deliberately or not – put as much distance between their knees as possible, thus crowding in whichever unlucky soul happens to be sat next to them. It’s not just men that are guilty of over-spreading their boundaries, but it does seem to be a 

When you’re packed into a seat on busy public transport, any incursion on your limited space can feel like a personal attack but remember, often people just don’t realise they’re taking up more space than they’re entitled to. Next time you witness someone extending a limb beyond their own boundaries, try asking them to give you a little space. You’d be surprised how many people respond with courtesy when asked nicely, and it’s a far better option than getting into a passive-aggressive battle for that little bit extra legroom.

Manspreading passenger on public transport

The ‘occasional bather’

One of the greatest things about public transport is the diverse variety of people you meet. While this brings endless opportunity to meet fascinating individuals, it also runs the risk of coming into contact with people with a less than satisfactory approach to personal hygiene.

If you’re unlucky enough to be sat next to one of these people, you’ll likely spend your journey practising the art of breathing only through your mouth, praying they’ll disembark before your lungs collapse and you’re forced to inhale their noisome scent.

Oftentimes, it’s not the passenger themselves but the food they’ve decided to consume in-transit that causes a problem. While most people understand it’s bad etiquette to stuff your face in a confined shared space, it seems some just can’t help themselves.

There’s not much you can do about malodorous co-commuters but, if you’re really desperate, consider bringing a nasal inhaler with you. It won’t totally combat the foul-smelling co-passenger, but it can go some way to offsetting the unpleasant feeling of being sat next to a human dumpster.

Crowded bus at sunset silhouettes

Photo by Ashley Gerlach on Unsplash

The sharer

Thanks to the proliferation of the smartphone, people can conduct conversations in public without ever making a sound. Most journeys today consist of people staring at their tiny screen, utterly absorbed in their personal bubble.

But there are those who don’t want to stay in their own bubble – in fact, they feel like their personal lives are so interesting, everyone else in the surrounding area should share in it. Even when their conversation is about not much of anything, these people are determined to let everyone in on the details.

The only way to deal with these people is to fight fire with fire. Whip out your phone, pretend to make a call and proceed to complain about the blabbering loudmouth you’ve been forced to share space with. They might take the hint and end the call but beware – talk too loudly and you run the risk of becoming the very thing you detest.

Passengers on their smartphones

The seat hoarder

You know the type. They’re usually accompanied by twenty bags of shopping or the entire contents of their home in various containers. But it doesn’t matter if they had one bag or twenty, they would still believe that the volume of their positions entitled them to additional seating.

The seat hoarder will typically have a permanent scowl attached to their face, eyes glued to their phone to avoid catching the disapproving gaze of their fellow passengers.

It’s difficult to say how best to deal with seat-hoarders. The worst offenders are so wrapped up in their entitlement, any effort to procure your own space would probably be futile. Instead, try to sit as close as possible to them and, if you have a pen and paper handy, slip a note into their shopping bags. The note doesn’t have to be mean or threatening, but perhaps a gentle reminder that they’re not the only one in need of a seat on transport. You never know, perhaps all they need is a nudge in the right direction.

Passenger hoarding seats on public transport with bags

The human boombox

So, you’re sat there, just enjoying your journey. Perhaps you’re watching a film, or browsing the internet quietly minding your own business. Then you hear them. Somewhere, the sound of crashing percussion, violent screaming, pounding bass, or a combination of all three, rattles around the carriage, and it’s coming closer.

When they sit down, you see it is not actually some slack-jawed oaf playing their music through the speaker on their phone (although these people deserve to be dragged behind the bus). Instead, it’s someone playing music through earphones at what must sound to them like an explosion in a fireworks factory. Still, it’s a remarkable testament to the sheer durability of the human eardrum.

Dealing with a human boombox can be tricky. For one, they’ll be completely oblivious to any audible attempt to engage with them. Instead, try signing to them to remove their earphones. When they do, mouth words to convince them they’ve given themselves permanent hearing damage.

Man optimising journey looking down aisle of plane

Of course, the passengers detailed here are exceptions to the norm; most people just want to ride their transport without upsetting their fellow passengers. But there are endless varieties of twerps dedicated to upsetting your journey; so who have we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Increasing accessibility on transport through staff awareness

How can we do more to support accessibility on transport?

By | Accessibility, Feature, Technology, Transport | No Comments

With travel technology rapidly changing the way we get around, it’s never been easier to get around than right now. The growth of the smartphone, ubiquitous connectivity and endless access to data are making travel faster, safer and more convenient. But what about for those who mobility isn’t a given? How easy is it for the differently abled to access the transport we take for granted every day?

In recent years, new technologies have emerged to expressly respond to the needs of disabled passengers. But with the advent of AI and a growing focus on personal technology, there comes a real opportunity to raise the standard of travel for everyone, including those with physical or learning disabilities.

Mobility scooters to increase mobility on transport

Audioguides

Even before the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act, public transport companies in the UK took efforts to cater to people with visual impairments. Featuring braille at consistent locations on and around mass transit, installing tactile high-contrast warning surfaces along platform edges and making stop announcements inside and out transit vehicles have all gone some way to making travel safer for blind and partially sighted people.

Now emerging technologies are beginning to surface that focus on making journeys less challenging and more enjoyable for those with visual impairments. The Transport for Edinburgh mobile app comes with a feature that identifies the stop’s name and the bus services that depart from there when the user is nearby.

Wayfindr is an award-winning organisation aimed at helping the visually impaired independently manoeuvre indoor environments through audio-based navigation. With our increasingly connected environment, the dream that those with visual impairments could one day explore the world without limitations seems that little bit closer to reality.

Vibrating wristbands

The vibrating wristband concept has been touted as a solution for both deaf and blind commuters, but its value as a means of assisting disabled passengers is in no doubt. For those with hearing impairments, taking public transport can be more challenging than you think.

If you don’t know the area, finding when to disembark without a visual indicator can be a stressful experience. While modern buses and trains now regularly feature visual and audio notifications for the next destination, many older models don’t come with either.

That’s why the vibrating wristband could prove to be such a valuable tool. The device vibrates when the wearer approaches their chosen stop, with some designs incorporating a Bluetooth device that links up with the driver’s touchscreen or ticket machine.

Through further development and increased cooperation with transit companies, wristband technology could go on to redefine the travel experience for millions of people.

Wristband technology to increase accessiblity on transport

Audio-visual information

Navigating transport can be a major challenge for anyone. For those with learning difficulties, these challenges can be exacerbated by difficulties in understanding timetables and fact-sheets.

That’s why Mencap, the UK-based learning disability charity, has produced a series of factsheets aimed at helping those with learning disabilities understand and navigate the public transport system. The fact-sheets come in an easy-read format and cover every aspect of travel, including how to find your nearest transit station; how to request assistance in advance of a journey; entitlement to discounts; and overall accessibility of different transport types.

Outside the hustle and bustle of major cities, audio-visual information on transport is still heavily lacking. Compliance with PSVAR legislation is a requirement, but with rural and suburban public transport facing consistent funding issues, operators often lack the resources to retrofit their vehicles.

Speaking last year at a Lords debate on bus services, Baroness Jane Campbell argued that increased access for disabled passengers providing audio-visual (AV) announcements on buses would open up travel not only to people with visual impairments but also to those such as people with dementia, autism, learning difficulties and mental health conditions.

Onboard bus aisle with audio visual notifications

Smart Apps

Ride-sharing app Uber introduced the UberWAV app for wheelchair users back in 2016, although just like the company, the service has attracted criticism from some. For those looking to use public transport, however, more options are becoming available as developers look to better integrate new technologies with the surrounding environment.

Features like ramps and ‘kneeling vehicles’ now feature as standard for most modern coaches, while tactile paving helps alert people to where a tram or trains’ doors will open, making it easier for the visually impaired to find their carriage.

Apps like the Voice Dream Reader convert text-to-speech, and vice versa, to assist with communication for those with physical and learning challenges.

More developers are waking up to the need for dedicated apps for those with disabilities. With our the near ubiquitous connection that smartphones, roaming data and the IoT bring, we can begin to create a better, safer transport infrastructure for everyone.

Man relying on an app to navigate public transport

Improved staff awareness

Perhaps one of the most important changes transport networks can make to encourage accessibility is in the attitudes of staff. The past two decades have seen a marked improvement in how staff respond to the diverse needs of passengers, but there is still more to do to ensure every passenger is treated with the same level of care.

Lord Ahmad, the (former) Conservative junior transport minister, announced last year that the government was developing guidance on disability equality training. However, the ruling to introduce mandatory training across the bus industry was based on an EU regulation that was due to come into force in 2018, a regulation which could be delayed following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Following the Paralympic Games in 2012, the DfT began to consult with a number of different accessibility and transport groups to introduce more consistent measures across different transports. The results are slowly beginning to take shape. A draft of the Accessibility Action Plan (AAP) released for review was well-received but charity and disability rights campaigners argued the draft could go further, particularly in improving understanding among transport providers and staff to the needs of disabled people.

Whether these recommendations will lead to real change remains to be seen. While the AAP addressed the need for well-trained staff, the lack of consultation with Disabled People’s Organisations on what constitutes a good standard of training led many to see it as a token gesture.

Increasing accessibility on transport through staff awareness

In the UK, legislation on access to transport and facilities for individuals with disabilities was introduced in 1996, with the DfT establishing a comprehensive guideline for the design of accessible transport facilities. But accessibility on transport, particularly outside busy metropolitan cities, still has a long way to go. For citizens with disabilities, technology may provide a piece of the puzzle, but it’s up to everyone to realise the full picture.

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A passport and camera laid across a map

Travel optimisation: The secret to making the most of a short-stay trip

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Travel is great. Even if the journey is tiring or stressful, knowing there’s a world to explore on the other side makes it all worthwhile. But what about when the journey takes almost as long as your holiday time? How do you make the most of a new location when you’ve been travelling for hours, and know you’ll have to travel again in just a short time? It’s easier than you think, and all it requires is a little forward planning and some clever travel optimisation.

Make travel time part of the adventure

Long coach journeys for short stays tend to be born of necessity, as the majority of people would opt for a train journey, or better yet a short-haul flight, to reach their destination in less time.

But just because you’re travelling a long distance doesn’t mean you have to endure long stretches of boredom. If you’re flying, check if there’s onboard WiFi available. If you’re travelling by train or coach, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get WiFi. If not, pre-load some movies on your device to keep you occupied.

Often flying long distances for a short period of time is unavoidable – particularly when you’re travelling on business. If you are travelling for work, treat the journey as an opportunity to get some prep time in for when you land.

Using a mobile device outside to explore a new city

Consider treating yourself

It’s important to choose your seating carefully, regardless of the transport you choose. If you have a choice of where to sit, you’ll be glad you put some advance thought into it after ten hours in the same space.

First class can be prohibitively expensive on planes, but on long train and coach journeys, it could mean the difference of just a few pounds. The difference in quality, however, can be startling. If you’re travelling on business, you could even suggest an upgrade as a necessary expense to ensure you arrive ready to kick some corporate ass.

With only a limited time when you arrive, you want to be on top of your game, so it could be worthwhile investing that little bit extra to travel in what are usually drastically more comfortable surroundings.

Adjust sleeping patterns

If you’re flying, jet lag can be a serious obstacle to getting the most out of your trip. Reaching your destination only to sleep flat out then head home is the last thing you want.

If you’re riding train or coach, regulating your sleep should be easier but can still be a challenge, particularly if the journey begins early in the morning. Be honest with yourself, staying awake for a ten-hour bus journey after too little sleep is unrealistic. Try to get off to sleep for a few hours first and make sure you wake up with enough time to get your bearings.

If you’re taking a night bus, make sure you’re ready to sleep when you board. That way you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day.

Navigating a new city using 4G mobile data

Invest in travel comforts

Travel comforts aren’t just there to make your journey more comfortable – they mean you’re ready to make the most of your new destination the moment you arrive.

Wear the comfiest clothes you can, buy yourself a travel pillow and, if you’re a light sleeper, bring a set of earplugs and a sleeping mask. A comfortable journey can make a world of difference to how you experience a new setting.

Ensure all your gadgets are charged so you don’t have to waste time waiting for them to charge when you arrive. If your phone is prone to running out, consider investing in an extra travel charging device. There’s nothing worse than losing valuable time when you arrive waiting for that phone to charge.

Travel optimisation - eating on the train

Bring snacks

It may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think to pack some essentials. You’re going to be travelling for a long time, and even if there’s an in-journey meal, you may find yourself hankering for something when you arrive

If you’re arriving late at night, your eating options may be limited. That’s why it’s better to prepare for the worst and bring some essentials. Even if you plan to hit the hay when you arrive, packing emergency snacks give you a better chance of waking up ready to conquer your new surroundings.

For long flights, make sure you only pack dry foods that can make it through security. That being said, it’s best to avoid salty foods as they can exacerbate jet lag. For train and coach journeys, try to get a good balance of nutrients so you feel in tip-top shape when you reach your destination.

Plan your time out in full

This one is important if you want to get the most from your time at your destination. Arriving on time, refreshed and ready is great but, if you aren’t prepared, it could all be for nothing. If it’s your first time in a new city, selecting a route can be challenging. But if you have a good idea of the places you want to see, it’s a good idea to have a rough plan of action.

It’s not just about knowing where you want to be when you arrive: it’s important to know the best time to visit particular landmarks. The most popular attractions tend to fill up around midday, so consider hitting the most prominent landmarks early in the morning and exploring the lesser known spots later in the day.

Of course, it’s important to be realistic too. You might be able to fit five major landmarks spread across a city into one day, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to enjoy any of them in such a short space of time. Likewise, if it’s clear your original plan was unrealistic, or external factors conspire against your route, don’t be afraid to improvise and adapt.

Tourists queueing up outside a shop in Bratislava

So while a short-stay trip certainly presents its own unique set of challenges, it’s by no means a waste of time. Planning, practical thinking and realistic expectations will give you greater freedom when you arrive while taking steps to optimise the travel experience will help you hit the ground running. After all, it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination.

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Looking down bus aisle in need of new transport technology

5 technologies to revitalise your coach hire service

By | Coach hire, Feature, Technology, Transport | No Comments

The commercial coach hire industry has weathered its fair share of obstacles in the past 50 years, including increasing costs, fluctuating demand and increasingly stringent safety and security regulations. But as we push further into the 21st century, urban transport is increasingly falling behind the innovations available. Some of these are unaffordable to all but the biggest companies, but there are still plenty of opportunities for independent coach hires to revitalise their fleet and bring their service into the 21st century.

Onboard WiFi is a must

These days, connectivity is seen as a basic human right on par with access to clean running water and free healthcare. It’s no secret that a country’s broadband speeds influences how it’s infrastructure is judged. Most people now don’t leave home without a mobile device, and while most of these devices will have some data to help people connect while on the move, this data is often in short supply, particularly on long journeys.

Providing your passengers with onboard WiFi shows you’re willing to ‘go the extra mile’ to ensure an enjoyable ride and keep them connected. By giving your passengers access to the outside world through their smartphones, you also remove some of the monotony from those long journeys – making it more likely that customer will book with you over a coach operator without an onboard connection.

It’s not just the passengers that benefit from an onboard connection – connected drivers are better placed to communicate with each other and manage pickup and drop-off processes, further streamlining journeys.

Man using his smartphone on a coach hire service

A mobile app

It’s hard to believe that only twenty years ago if you wanted to board pretty much any vehicle you would have to book your tickets in person from a travel agent or travel office. Nowadays, not only can you book online, you can book on the move, directly through a company’s mobile app.

Even if an official app is out of your company’s price range, ensuring your website is optimised for mobile and streamlining the online booking process can significantly increase the number of passengers. In the modern traveller’s world, convenience is second only to comfort.

A mobile app comes with several other benefits, including the direct line it provides to the passenger. An app can provide useful analytics on your passenger’s needs and enable you to better understand where in the sales funnel your company is losing potential passengers.

Of course, a mobile app is only useful if it works. Make sure to shop around for the best app developer for your particular needs. Your app should, above all, make browsing, booking and boarding easier for the customer.

Woman using smartphone airline app to book flights

Transport safety & security

As far as advanced mobility services go, safety and security technologies are often the last to be considered but they’re often the most easily accessible for independent firms. Onboard security features can cover any number of technologies, but CCTV and dashcams are the most commonly cited.

With a Sygnal CCTV system onboard, you can record every boarding and disembarkation and store it for future viewing, adding an additional level of security to drivers and passengers alike. Likewise, the Sygnal dashcam comes with a G-force sensor to store specific video if prompted as a result of increased G-force to prevent crash footage being recorded over.

These features don’t just increase security, they can lead to lower insurance rates, saving your firm money while ensuring total coverage in the event of an accident.

CCTV on bus and coach hire

Green transport features

Of course, the modern coach fleet comes with additional responsibilities – to the public and the environment. The transport sector today makes up around 23% of greenhouse gases internationally, with around 75% of that coming from road vehicles. That’s an awful lot of emissions – but green public procurement (GPP) initiatives have helped push green technologies to the fore – and could net adherents a handy tax break.

With more cities pledging to tax or ban outright diesel automobiles within the next ten years, now’s the time for coach hire services to look at upgrading their fleet. Some companies have even begun integrating photovoltaic solar cells onto their vehicles to power lighting and other onboard elements. They can be a costly investment but energy-saving technologies, particularly those based on harnessing renewable energy resources, can equal substantial savings in the long run.

Other technologies including hydrogen and biofuels should become more affordable, and thus a more viable alternative, in the future. Hybrid coaches are already reaping rewards for those willing to invest the time and money.

Onboard the vehicle, there are a number of features to reduce wastage. Most sectors are moving towards paperless operations, but almost 70% of UK coach hire companies revealed they still use paper ticketing for boarding passengers. Switching to e-ticketing doesn’t just benefit the environment, it provides long-term cost-cutting solutions to the business.

Public transport with green features on a coach hire service

Fleet management technology

With the developments in vehicle tracking, quantitative journey data and traffic flows, transport companies are slowly coming to realise that not every technology has to be prohibitively expensive or invasive.

Even today, ground travel management is too often rooted in traditional means of communication, vehicle monitoring and passenger tracking. The benefits go beyond a reduced corporate footprint – with onboard systems like that found in Sygnal’s standard consoles providing satellite GPS to track entire fleets and optimise travel times.

In fact, fleet management can be as simple as tracking overall usage of vehicles, distances, fuel consumption and passenger intake, all of which can be done through a simple data analysis. Big data is fast becoming an integral asset to transport companies. Its ubiquity as an optimisation tool among the big transport companies shouldn’t put anyone off, however.

Big data can be a simple and affordable means to gain valuable insights into passenger behaviour and vehicle performance. With additional technologies like e-ticketing and mobile apps, this data will only become more accurate as time goes by, for both large and small companies within the coach hire service sector.

Using data to control coach hire service fleet

None of these technologies is a substitute for recognising your passengers as people. The thing is, appealing to your customers as people is a key element of developing and integrating new technologies. By adding new levels of comfort, connectivity and security, coach operators can begin to entice customers away from the rails.

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Using your smartphone on a bus with onboard streaming server

5 mistakes coach hire must avoid in replacement services

By | Coach hire, Feature, Transport | No Comments

Delays and cancellations are a fact of life. For those in the transport industry, however, disruptions can mean stranded passengers, negative reviews and even a damaged brand image. The only response companies can give is to offer an alternative that meets as many of their requirements as possible. Unfortunately, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

No game plan

The key to handling unexpected delays? It’s all in the planning. You can’t anticipate every eventuality but, by preparing and regularly rehearsing for a range of scenarios, you can rest a little easier in the knowledge that you’ll be ready to respond when the time comes.

In your preparations, you should already have drawn up clearly marked designated waiting areas, arranged a procedure for transporting passengers to new areas and allocated vehicles for different routes.

“Coordinated preparation should already inform every aspect of your services”

Additionally, it’s essential to have replacement routes planned out in advance so you know where each bus will go and when they’ll reach those destinations. This isn’t just a means of keeping track of your own vehicles. Passengers expect to be kept informed of new developments – the more (reliable) information you make available to passengers, the more they will trust you’re in control of the situation.

Coordinated preparation should already inform every aspect of your services, extending this ethos to your replacement services should be par for the course.

 Looking down the interior of long-distance replacement transport service

No transparency

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the need to supply an emergency replacement service, passengers are entitled to know their rights. In a nutshell: transparency is vital to maintaining trust with your passengers.

It’s crucial to ensure any public announcements make clear how the planned replacements are likely to affect passengers plans. What time will this mean they arrive at their destination? How will their luggage be transported? Where will their new transport drop them off?

Stress that all efforts are being made to restore normal service, but don’t under any circumstances withhold further information regarding their rights to seek refunds. This doesn’t mean throwing your company under the bus; it means taking responsibility when the time comes. Companies across the world have learned the hard way, it’s better to admit responsibility and do your best to rectify it than try to dodge the blame.

Men looking at departure board waiting for their replacement bus service

Not enough seats

If your coach hire service covers a diverse range of vehicle sizes, make sure the replacement has enough seating. In fact, for safety’s sake, it’s vital you assume every seat was reserved. If you have accurate figures on passenger numbers, use these to ensure everybody is allocated a seat as close to the original seating plan as possible. That’s the kind of brand blemish that sticks with a company and damages profits down the line.

Remember too, that these vehicles should aim to reach each passenger’s destination in good time. If your cancelled journey was a long-distance service due to stop at ten different locations, try to ensure the replacement bus service will be able to reach each of these destinations in good time. Even if this means providing different buses for specific locations, it’s better to err on the safe side than risk putting off passengers for life.

Red bus crossing bridge under blue sky as public transport

No appropriate waiting areas

Don’t leave your passengers adrift in the pouring rain waiting for their replacement coach hire service. Instead, ensure your passengers are just as safe and comfortable whilst waiting for a replacement service as they would be if they were on their originally intended vehicle.

If the delay or cancellation means passengers won’t be able to reach their destination that day, you should have procedures in place to provide alternative accommodation. This doesn’t have to be a five-star affair at the city’s finest hotel but it should be of a standard that won’t give your passengers a sleepless night.

Limiting the stress to passengers requires some anticipatory actions too. This includes putting in place measures to ensure passengers don’t have to walk more than 200 metres to reach a replacement vehicle. If possible, you should always try to provide a form of transport to the alternative accommodation, or at the very least, inform passengers that any costs incurred in reaching the new departure location will be refunded.

People waiting at Waterloo station for a replacement coach service

No backup plan

This one comes back to the theme of being prepared for every eventuality, and setting those plans in place from day one. Replacement vehicles should be reliable, safe and constantly available to be called into action. For the smaller coach operators, any vehicle owned or operated by or on their behalf should be regularly checked to ensure they’re in usable condition.

Your replacement service, of course, depends on the reasons for the cancellation. If your transport plans have changed due to poor weather, your response will be significantly different to if it were due to a vehicle failure. Planning alternative routes, preparing and maintaining backup vehicles, establishing connections with hotels for fall-back accommodation and setting in place emergency procedures in the event of a travel accident can all help avert PR disasters.

For mechanical failures, your options can be fairly limited. The larger coach operators tend to have multiple replacement coaches on standby, while the smaller companies may struggle to afford to keep a vehicle out of service for emergencies. In the event of vehicle failure, smaller coach companies should focus on keeping reliable mechanics on hand to sort maintenance issues when they arise. 

A replacement bus service driving past a bus stop on long exposure

Despite all the steps you can take to manage contingencies, it’s important to acknowledge that a replacement service will rarely be as good as the original service. Offering replacement transport is largely an act of damage-limitation, even when the travel disruption is down to matters beyond your control. How far you’re willing to go in limiting said damage depends on how many resources you have at your disposal, but gambling with your brand reputation is a risk no company should be willing to take.

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Using big data in aviation to increase efficiency

How is big data in aviation transforming the industry?

By | Data protection, Feature, Technology | No Comments

What does the introduction of analytics mean for the future of air travel?

Despite the recent growth in homegrown holidays, air travel is still big business in 2017. As more people look abroad for business and pleasure, airlines have to become savvier if they want to find an edge up on competitors.

Increased competition has made it more important than ever for companies to embrace new technology. The only problem? The biggest development in modern air travel technology is still only being embraced by a handful of companies. Big data has the potential to revolutionise every aspect of air travel – from the second a customer searches for their next holiday to the moment they touch down.

Processing the data

With the reams of data generated daily by the travel and hospitality industries, there’s no end to the number of consumer measurables that can be tracked and observed, including reservations, enquiries, itineraries, rental cars, fare charts, geolocation and customer feedback. With so many airlines competing for the same passengers, the data gathered from these variables is essential to enhancing consumer value and retaining customer loyalty. The airline industry’s approach to customer feedback has evolved because big data has dramatically increased the level of feedback available. With a constant stream of data on customer behaviour, airlines can leverage the insights gained from analysing the data to improve the entire passenger experience.

Using big data in aviation as innovative travel technology

Responsive pricing

Traditional manual fare analysis is now a thing of the past for most airlines, replaced by automated data gathering and the analysis of existing and real-time data from multiple sources. With this data-gathering, airlines can track competitors pricing and combine sources to build a comprehensive pricing strategy. Similarly, this data can feed into algorithms which track price changes and predict potential upcoming changes to ticket prices.

Dynamic analysis of competitors’ pricing enables service providers to remain competitive at all times. These metrics allow travel sites to forecast changes in pricing over time for better serving their consumer requirements. By analysing data collected from on-site forms, social media platforms and call centre conversations, airlines can identify customer intent with a greater degree of accuracy.

Likewise, by studying the numbers behind customer purchase patterns, drop-off and click-through rates, companies can build a coherent and responsive commercial strategy that is easily adapted in real time as needs develop.

Searching for airline prices made easier with big data

The booking process

Most established travel companies have already begun utilising data in its commercial applications – identifying customers through the booking process and sending them targeted location-based offers. But by studying passenger’s browsing behaviour during the booking stage, airlines can also gain ancillary revenue from offering secondary services from recognised commercial partners.

These services can include partner company-specific deals and cover a huge range of possibilities, including providing options for car hire when they land, linking to local SIM cards to reduce their roaming charges or offering discount rates on day-trips. As Abhishek Singh, product manager for tourism and hospitality at Infosys, explains:

“Ancillary revenue should not just be about baggage fees or unbundling, but should aim to create value propositions based on increasingly real-time information about customer preferences and needs and using that information for targeted services.”

Intelligent check-ins

It’s not just the booking process that provides opportunities for data-gathering. Checking in, and the multitude variables that can come with this process also provides airlines with valuable insights. Big data analytics allow travel companies to understand their customer, and studying check-in data can enable them to optimise the experience and streamline the boarding process.

With this relatively new level of insight, travel companies are now determined to leverage data into a streamlined travel experience. After all, passengers won’t book with an airline again if they’re left high and dry at the check-in desk. Building a snapshot of ‘customer DNA’ enables airlines to account for potential delays (for instance, by offering a hotel room suited to their particular needs), provide customised airport lounge services and even suggest the best routes to the airport at any particular time.

Airport departure board populated using aviation big data

Baggage tracking

One of the biggest challenges for airlines is in keeping track of the millions of pieces of luggage that go through airports every day. After over half a century of air travel, the process of ensuring the right bag ends up at the right destination in the right hands has been sufficiently refined, but until the arrival of big data in aviation, reassuring passengers of the whereabouts of their luggage is another matter.

Delta airlines were one of the first companies to provide an application allowing passengers to track their luggage from their mobile devices. Although a relatively simple concept, providing that additional level of transparency endears passengers to the brand and gives them peace of mind in the process.

Personalised experiences

Customers expect travel solutions tailored to their specific needs – big data provides the means to do that. Gone are the days of travel companies forming their commercial strategies from the aggregated feedback of a small cross-section of the customer base. Today, commercial air travel enjoys access to a near-bottomless well of information from which to dredge new observations. Companies can now gather data from almost every stage of the travel process, and those that do are in the best position to respond to changes in customer expectations.

In studying the data generated by a potential passenger’s holiday planning, incorporating price search and comparison process, booking, cancellation, and feedback, airlines can build a detailed picture of their customer’s interests and, more importantly, their needs.

Man staring out of window at airport terminal in monochrome

Optimised travel

Service providers can also track their customers and make location relevant real-time offers by enabling GPS technology with data analytics. In Brazil, where aviation traffic has been growing rapidly, airports introduced a GPS system that analyzes data from flights to optimise travel space and prevent unnecessary ‘bunching’ of flights. The system has already been credited with reducing the time planes spend in the air, optimising flight times and reducing fuel consumption. Airlines and airports alike are now harnessing data as a means of assigning ‘value-scores’ to flights, enabling them to prioritise flights in the event they need to be diverted

With increased connectivity and flight-tracking technology, airlines now have the opportunity to optimise not just journey times but vehicle performance too. By incorporating weather data into the flight plan, airlines can anticipate potential weather hazards and adapt accordingly. For commercial airlines, this means simultaneously saving money on fuel and reducing the corporate carbon footprint.

In-flight optimisation

For commercial flights, combining historical data like dieting and seating requirements, with real-time information is already an integral part of the travel experience. Big data, however, makes studying the needs of your passengers easier and far less invasive than the traditional ‘in-flight questionnaire’.

Just as data gained from the booking process can guide subsequent offers from strategic partnerships, airlines with onboard WiFi can study the analytics of individual passenger’s in-flight browsing and push personalised advertising accordingly. It’s a win-win for everyone; it increases ancillary revenue and brand loyalty for the airline while providing a more personalised experience for the passenger.

Airlines using big data during booking process to optimise seating process

Big data in aviation is still in its infancy despite the industry being one of its earliest proponents. The airline industry can be a fickle place, with customers inclined to jump between brands according to who has the cheapest flights. That’s why responding to feedback and keeping prices in-line with the competition is so essential. Integrating the responses found in big data is the most effective means of turning this feedback into real actionable insights. The airlines ready to embrace the power of quantified feedback into their commercial strategy now will be at the forefront of new data developments.

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Exploring a country by rail

5 reasons to explore a new country by rail

By | Feature, Holiday, Rail, Travel | One Comment

As short haul flights get cheaper and countries become more urbanised, you could be forgiven for thinking that the once great train journey is a relic of a bygone era. With airlines working to cram more people on flights and road trips becoming more motorway-centric, we’re becoming increasingly detached from the idea of travel as an adventure.

But while some countries have seemingly outgrown their rail network, there are still plenty of nations that rely on trains as their central transport system, and with good reason. Not only are trains usually cheaper and easier to access than most flights, they’re more energy efficient too. If you’re planning to explore a new country but want to keep your feet firmly on the ground, travelling by train could re-ignite your wanderlust and give you a unique perspective on this underrated transport.

1. See a country from ground level

Most tourists, when visiting a country with a large land mass like the United States, will opt to jump between locations by flying – but this isn’t necessarily the best way to see a new country. Watching all the different sights of new country zip past your window allows you to study the landscape in a way that’s impossible with flying, and is infinitely more comfortable than driving yourself. Riding by train allows you to enjoy your surroundings without the worry of reaching locations on time or getting lost, meaning you can focus on getting to know a country from the ground up.
Top choice: Riding the Trans-Siberian railway probably features on the bucket list of every dedicated traveller, and with good reason. The longest rail line in the world, it stretches almost 10,000 km across several countries and takes in a diverse range of stunning landscapes. Without a doubt the most renowned railway journey, the TSR is still growing and offers a memorable trip where the journey is just as important as the destination.

View of countryside on train journey

2. Cover travel and accommodation in one

Although now a rare sight in western countries, sleeper trains are still a popular mode of transport around the world. For the discerning traveller, sleeper trains also come with some real advantages over other means of travel. With stop-offs in individual towns, these long-distance locomotives offer a unique opportunity to pull into town and explore from the get-go. 

On top of this, with your sleeper travelling between destinations at night, you can settle down at sunset and wake up in a new city without the rigmarole of driving/flying/trekking. There aren’t many other kinds of travel that can act as both hotel and transport.

Top choice: Although there’s any number of great sleeper train trips around the world, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express wins out thanks to it’s timeless, traditional feel, not to mention the stunning alpine landscapes. Setting off from London, the lovingly restored 1920s style train takes you through Paris and the Swiss Alps before making its stop in Venice. For those who enjoy getting there in style, this is your ideal journey.

Luxury Orient Express train accommodation for rail holiday

3. Get off the beaten track

For the seasoned traveller, one of the biggest attractions to using trains lies in discovering the unusual, the exotic and most tantalising of all, the unexplored. Of course, the accessibility of these hidden wonders depends on the history of a country’s rail infrastructure, but most nation’s rail network will cover areas you had never considered visiting.

Countries originally built their railroads around their industrial requirements – bringing materials, machinery and workers to plantations and factories while ferrying products back to the major cities and shipping hubs. Many of these industrial towns still exist and can provide a fascinating insight into the real spirit of a country.

Top choice:  Despite its small size, Britain boasts some of the finest hidden rail routes in the world, and none is more rewarding to the inquisitive traveller than the Glasgow to Mallaig line. Twisting up the west coast of the Scottish highlands with lochs, waterfalls, ruined castles, the base of Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain) and a historic viaduct best known for its appearances in the Harry Potter films, this is the only way to see the Highlands.

Train on viaduct explore Scotland on a train holiday

4. Travel for less

For those travelling on a budget, particularly younger travellers looking to explore on a shoestring, using rail networks can free up the budget for other activities. With low fares, you can cover a huge expanse at little cost. In fact, many rail companies in European countries offer tickets that allow you to jump on and off trains at no extra cost. This gives you the freedom to adapt your travel plans without incurring additional charges, or having to change your tickets altogether. As if that wasn’t enough, because services are generally more flexible on times than flying, you don’t have to plan your day around your train.

Top choice:  For a truly authentic taste of India, nothing comes close to taking one of the many long-distance train journeys across the country’s diverse landscape. For sheer variety in the landscape, you could do worse than the Nizamuddin Duronto Express, a 20-hour expedition from Pune to Delhi. Taking in everything from desolate deserts to breathtaking mountains, scenic rivers to bustling cities, the NDE gives you every reason for visiting India in one adventure, and at just under £30, it won’t break the travel bank either.

Train passing by sea during a rail holiday in Europe

5. Jump between cities at will

Train stations, unlike airports, tend to be built in close reach of a city. This means easy access for travellers arriving by rail, with no arduous check-in process or invasive searches on the way. Arriving in the heart of a city makes for easier exploration and gives you a central point around which to orient yourself.

Uncomfortable with flying? Jumping between destinations on the rails offers a calmer and more meditative approach. Gone are the intrusive searches, the endless lines at the check-in desk and those pesky limits on liquids. Best of all, there’s rarely a luggage allowance and you can arrive two minutes prior to a train leaving the station and jump onboard without complication.

Top choice: For those with a taste for new experiences, few places on earth can offer such a wide array of different cultures within such easy reach of each other as eastern Europe. The close proximity of capitals within this area of the continent allows you to jump not just between cities but also countries at will. With Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, Ljubljana and Budapest all within a few hours train journey of each other, you can take in the diverse beauty of several countries – in the same day – without ever boarding a flight.

Multiple train platforms in city centre for rail holiday

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Seatback screens

What happened to social seating on airlines?

By | Business trip, Feature | One Comment

Because the current seating system for planes, trains and seat-allocated bus journeys entails a largely randomised selection process, you always run the risk of sitting next to someone who will make that journey feel twice as long. But then came an alternative. At one point, social seating looked like it could become the next big thing in travel, but almost as quickly as it appeared, the social networking innovation seemed to die out. So what happened, and is the end for social seating?

What is social seating?

Social seating is a social networking concept that enables guests to choose their seatmates based on personal preference, or, to have your seat chosen for you based on the similarity of your social profiles to other guests. The process can be applied to any number of situations. Picture being able to choose who you sit with at your next conference based on who you most want to network with. But whereas social seating at a conference assumes a shared purpose, applying the same concept to your next long haul journey comes with a few more assumptions, not to mention a whole host of new risks.

View from plane window as sun sets

How does it work?

The process of social seating depends on a lot of variables, including where the airline and the passengers are based. Social seating usually requires a passenger to share either their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profile. From that, information about upcoming events, friends, noted interests, followed accounts, employment history and more are collated to draw up a profile of interests (most likely using an algorithm).

Using this profile, airlines can ‘pair’ passengers together, the assumption being that common interests will equal a more enjoyable journey. Alternatively, some airlines give passengers the option to choose their own seating based on perceived common interests. This can be done by individuals personal social channels or through a custom profile set up on the official airline website.

So what happened?

Despite its initial popularity, social seating lost a lot of fans as online security increased and the novelty aspect wore thin. When it first launched, social seating was trialled on some of the leading airlines, including Malaysia Airlines, AirBaltic and Finnair. With the notable exception of KLM, most of the airlines have since abandoned it.

This is partly a result of increasing concerns over privacy and partly due to the inevitable push back against the categorisation culture. Whatever the reasons, social seating has taken a backseat and is in need of a makeover if it hopes to become a part of the airline experience again.

Sun viewed over the wing of a plane using social seating technology

The advantages

For leisure travel

Social seating is about more than just seat selection. It can also alert passengers to other guests that may be attending the same event or staying in the same hotel. This gives passengers a platform from which to develop new friendships, but it can also come in handy when trying to arrange travel plans once on the ground.

For business travel

In the future, TMCs could let clients choose flights based on which day their “friends” are flying, which is useful for colleagues looking to get some work done together during a long-haul flight. The real draw of social seating, of course, is the promise of new connections. After all, networking opportunities abound when you can see the business profiles of your fellow passengers.

For airlines

Social seating can also benefit the airlines too, providing there’s enough uptake from customers. KLM’s Meet & Seat allows passengers to post their flight status online to friends, including details of any upgrades. The thinking behind it was clear: if you see a friend has bought a seat upgrade, you’re more likely to buy that upgrade, too. The reality has been somewhat different (they wouldn’t release figures on how many additional upgrades resulted), but it has created more dialogue around the brand.

Passengers using social seating onboard a flight with seatback screens

The downsides

There’s a strong argument for letting nature take its course and just hoping for the best. Some people have argued that having control over the people you meet will stunt your development, that perhaps we are supposed to sit next to people we feel we have nothing in common with. As Danish behavioural scientist Pelle Guldborg Hansen put it, people fear to become “victims of a social colonisation of what used to be private.”

For leisure travel

Of course, by integrating profiles into the booking process, airlines are only getting a superficial snapshot of a passenger’s interests, but it does go some way to limiting the potential for mid-air discomfort.

A major reservation for passengers considering social seating is privacy. Some people are concerned (perhaps understandably) about the idea of sharing their flight details online with strangers. It’s an important obstacle to developing social seating as a viable option for flights, although some argue it’s not as serious a concern as people might think. Eran Savir, the founder of social seating service SeatID, argued that as the personal information garnered from social seating is equivalent to that gained when a passenger ‘Likes’ the Facebook page of a company, airlines only additionally learn where a passenger is sitting.

For business travel

There are some obvious downsides to the ‘networking on a plane’ angle too. No doubt there are people who want to use their flight to kick back, read a book or have a nap. It’s unlikely that you’ll look back with fondness on a flight where your seatmate spent the entire time talking to you about business opportunities while you tried to catch some shut-eye.

Airlines point out that to avoid this predicament, passengers need simply not sign-up for social seating, but this misses the point. What one passenger might interpret as a means to pass the time, another might see as an exciting networking opportunity. One or both of these passengers will likely be disappointed when it becomes clear they are looking for different things.

For airlines

Airlines using social seating face a few dilemmas in actually accurately pairing together passengers. Rather than with a random allocation of seats, airlines that pair passengers together who then don’t get along face accusations of poor seat planning and open themselves up to the scrutiny of their seating process.

Man looking down aisle of plane with onboard social seating

So what’s next?

There’s an obvious appeal in gaining control over your own seating arrangements. After all, if you can minimise the risk of awkward silences at 35,000 feet, why wouldn’t you? So how can airlines get beyond the ‘gimmick’ angle and convince passengers that social seating is worth it?

Well, for one, airlines have to understand the kind of information people are willing to share, and why. Whereas some might be comfortable with sharing their age, occupation and more online, others will refuse to engage unless they can control the amount of detail they provide.

Simultaneously, there are concerns surrounding the harvesting of personal data, and to what ends personal data will be used. If the social seating revolution is to get back on track, there must be reassurances from travel companies that the information gathered will not be used for any purposes other than seating like-minded passengers together (as KLM has already promised).

If airlines can address these issues earnestly and introduce proper safeguards to ensure everyone has a comfortable flight, social seating just might recover, and we all could enjoy our flights a little more.

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Man optimising journey looking down aisle of plane

How optimising your travel time makes long journeys worthwhile

By | Feature, Travel | No Comments

OK, so let’s be honest. Nobody really enjoys travelling more than they enjoy reaching their destination. The rigmarole of packing, checking (and most likely double and even triple-checking) your travel lists, finding transport and making it to the station/airport on time, the endless waiting around; none of it makes for a stress-free start to your travels.

But what if we started embracing the journey as the opportunity it really is? It stands to reason; you’re trapped in one place for an extended period of time, so you have no excuse for doing nothing. By using that time to catch up on tasks you would usually avoid you can keep your mind stimulated, pass the time and start your trip with a clean slate.

“Use your travel time productively to keep your brain stimulated and you’ll arrive at your destination with your wits about you.”

The growth in mobile devices and WiFi on commercial transport has made finding mid-journey distractions easier than ever. Of course, it’s always tempting to settle down with your headphones and a good book after boarding, but this isn’t always the best approach to your mental fitness, something you’re going to need when you reach your destination. By using your travel time productively and keeping your brain stimulated (albeit in reasonable doses), you’ll arrive at your destination with your wits about you. If you’re flying, keeping your brain stimulated can help you navigate the check-in process and reach your accommodation with a cool head.

A red train with in-journey wifi exiting a tunnel

Anxious traveller? Using your time in transit to finish tasks you’ve been putting off can distract from the myriad of worries that usually hound your thoughts. Worried you might have left the front door unlocked? There’s nothing you can do about that now, so why not bury your thoughts in organising your contacts, finishing off that presentation or clearing duplicate files? You don’t have to dedicate your travel time to work alone, however. You can use the time to update your CV, read up on new skills you want to learn or just go over your personal targets.

“Travel time doesn’t have to mean downtime.”

If you’re travelling on business, you’re probably looking to make the best impression on a prospective client. And while you’ve no doubt done plenty of research and prep ahead of time, some last minute groundwork could mean the difference between landing the sale or going home empty-handed. Optimising your travel time requires preparation. Spend time going over talking points for your meetings, do some research on your clients or just run through scenarios in your head. Remember, you can never be too prepared and you’ll be able to enjoy your leisure time more in the knowledge that you’re prepared for whatever they throw at you.

Bus with in-journey wifi turning in street at dusk

If you know you’ll be using transport that doesn’t have access to WiFi, try to prepare for the journey as much as possible in advance. Whether this means setting your mobile devices to function in offline mode, or just packing an extra notepad, you’ll be glad you did.

“Try to remove any reason you might have for ducking the work, even if it means switching to good ol’ pen and paper.”

It’s also vital that you make sure your devices are fully charged and meet the requirements for the type of travel you’re taking (you should probably leave that Galaxy Note 7 at home). In doing so, you can ensure your workflow goes uninterrupted and you reach your destination ready for anything.

Of course, travelling can be a tiring experience in itself. Make sure you have a game plan to avoid mentally exhausting yourself. Get your space ready for the work ahead and break tasks up into smaller times, with breaks to reward yourself with something less mentally challenging. By setting time limits for yourself on individual tasks, not only can you get a number of usually agonising tasks out the way in one go, you’ll be less focused on the remaining time in your journey.

Plane taking off with sun setting behind

Today there are all sorts of distractions to help pass the time on long-distance journeys, and it’s understandable that you want to reach your destination well-rested. But there are few other scenarios in which you have to sit in one place for an extended period of time outside of work. Finishing off work on your journey can be a nice last hurrah before a holiday starts or a great way to brush up on the essentials before a big business meeting.

So what’s your favourite way to pass the time when travelling long distance? Let us know in the comments below!

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Seatback screens

Is it time to say goodbye to seatback screens on airlines?

By | Feature, Technology | No Comments

2017 marks a pivotal moment in travel. Not only is the smartphone now the number one travelling companion, but this year also marks the beginning of the end for a staple of the in-flight experience. That’s right, 2017 will be remembered as the year passengers turned their backs on the in-seat screen once and for all.

The future’s wireless

Earlier this year, American Airlines announced that they would drop their seatback entertainment screen from their new fleet of Boeing 737MAX Aircraft. In explaining the decision, the company sent a statement to employees:

“More than 90 percent of our passengers already bring a device or screen with them when they fly. Those phones and tablets are continually upgraded, they’re easy to use, and most importantly, they are the technology that our customers have chosen.”

Thanks to the growth of mobile smart devices in the past decade, the public has come to expect entertainment delivered through the device they’re familiar with. While it’s true that a 2015 APEX Global Passengers Insights Survey found that 70% of respondents would rather watch in-flight entertainment via individual seatback screens, passengers increasingly expect a personalised experience in streaming content – something easier to achieve through a passenger’s personal device. As the aviation expert and freelance writer Marisa Garcia argues “giving passengers what they value most is the new brand loyalty builder.”

Man using tablet onboard flight with onboard network

For the airlines

Savings

Because of the numerous safety checks required for each one, in-flight entertainment screens can cost as much as $10,000. To outfit an entire plane can cost up to $4 million dollars.

There are other added financial incentives to removing seatback screens from commercial air travel. Companies can save on the cost of headsets and the seatback screen installation process. Meanwhile, airlines flying sans screens have the option of installing slimmer seats, which means more passengers and more revenue per flight.

Weight

By opting for an onboard streaming server, airlines can remove a huge amount of weight from the plane and reduce fuel consumption. For instance, an airline IT provider speaking to the Wall Street Journal estimated that the removal of screens from a standard 260-seat Boeing 767 could conserve 80 metric tonnes of fuel per year.

Not only does this save airlines money (savings which can then be passed on to the passengers), it also reduces the environmental impact – which is good news for everyone.

Ancillary revenue

The decline of the in-seat screen also presents some unforeseen opportunities to the airlines. Pushing specific advertising requires individual sign-ins, but also enables travel companies to continue the conversation after the flight.

By requiring passengers to use their own devices, companies have more access to personal browsing behaviours. This means more data with which to personalise the experience and a richer travel experience for the passenger, with the potential for more ancillary revenue in the long run.

Sun setting over wing of airborne plane with onboard network

For the passengers

For the passengers, the shift to projecting content to personal devices comes with a range of benefits, not least that unfamiliar headsets and devices will become a thing of the past.

More room

The absence of a power pack beneath the seat in front means added leg room or luggage space for those long journeys. Shifting to a handheld screen also eliminates the frustration of staring straight ahead or trying to watch a movie whilst the person in front insists on putting their seat as far back as possible (you know the type).

More privacy

The extra privacy afforded by watching through your own device reduces the amount of light cast around darkened cabins and allows passengers sat next to young kids to watch more adult-themed content without feeling embarrassed.

More choice

The direct supply of content to a passenger’s device makes updating libraries simpler and more efficient for the airline – meaning greater choice and a richer travel experience all round.

Personalisation

With several airlines offering an app-based sign-up system, passengers want to personalise their travel experience to suit their own needs, allowing them to jump back into movies and shows when they next board. As Marisa Garcia points out: “This isn’t about the industry’s largest seat-back screens or more content than you can consume on 100 trips around the world. It’s about personalization.”

Woman using smartphone while flying

Potential pitfalls

The move to a wireless IFE system does come with its own set of challenges. With content streamed directly to passenger’s mobile devices, the risk of content being downloaded is too high, and film studios will respond by dropping the “Fresh from the cinemas” format that allows new releases to be shown on planes. This will prove a sticking point for some, with ‘New Releases’ one of the most popular categories in current IFE libraries.

Evolving entertainment

Of course, airlines wouldn’t just pull the plug on an in-flight ritual without offering something in return. New fleets are being decked out with onboard streaming servers, inbuilt WiFi and individual USB charging points, meaning the entertainment hasn’t changed so much as the means of delivery. Ensuring that everyone has the ability to get (and stay) connected is key to retaining customer loyalty. With an increase in device usage, USB charging ports are a must. Some airlines have taken the added step of allowing passengers to rent out tablets if they don’t have their own device.

Man using onboard network looking down centre aisle of plane

The technology that drives transport to new speeds is constantly evolving. Likewise, the technology behind onboard entertainment develops in accordance with the world around us. Just as the demands for wireless connection in our home lives have influenced our expectations around travel, the growth of 4G internet and personal smart devices has nurtured our need for round-the-clock personalisation. In their quest to optimise travel for a huge range of demographics, travel companies would do well to remember that technology needs to do more than optimise content for specific regions; it must cater for passengers as individuals. The retirement of seatback screens on airlines is an important step in the right direction.

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