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AMENITIES SPECIAL ISSUE

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LATEST LAUNCHES p.

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LUXURY FOR VIP AIR TRAVEL p.

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RETHINKING ECONOMY KITS p.


ENERGIZING THE WORLD

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19 – 21 September 2016

* McCormick Place Convention Center 2301 Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616

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A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

ALL ABOUT AMENITIES W

hen PAX International decided to put together for the first time, an special amenities-dedicated digital issue, the goal was quite simple: present our readers with a comprehensive look into what passengers are looking for in the inflight amenity kit offering, and what airlines and suppliers are doing to meet their specific needs and wants. With today’s increasingly sophisticated passengers becoming more educated about quality and more recently, sustainability, many can tell if an airline has invested substantially in their amenity kit offering and consequently, in the needs of its passengers. It has become apparent that passengers want more than just the average branded bag with an average selection of products. With this in mind, planning for the issue began and there was no shortage of ideas when it came to selecting what to cover editorially. From current trends in case materials, brand collaborations and artist-designed kits, to new developments occurring with kid’s kits and the changes happening with the amenity kit offering in Economy Class — all of which are featured in this issue — the topics to cover were plentiful. We also took a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the amenity kit production — the Chinese labor market. While the passenger receives an aesthetically pleasing kit in their lap, before the kit can even make it on board it often must pass through the complex labor system in China, one that has experienced some troubles as of late. However, we learned — and in the coming

PAX International 26 Pearl Street, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 1X2, Canada Tel: (1 905) 821-3344; Fax: (1 905) 821-2777 website: www.pax-intl.com

PUBLISHER Aijaz Khan E-mail: aijaz@globalmarketingcom.ca

EDITORIAL OFFICES Rick Lundstrom, Editor-in-Chief PAX International

pages have shared — that even amid the concern, there is still a certainty that the country will continue to be the primary source for many products, among them the airline amenity kit that serves as the core of this special issue. We also chatted with an expert in supplying amenities to VIP airlines and private jets to get his outside — and elevated — viewpoint on the current amenity kit offering on commercial airlines, specifically what can be changed and more importantly, improved. His insight proves not only useful to suppliers, but airlines as well, who have long been interested in improving the passenger experience. As we wrapped up the issue, it became apparent just how much information exists surrounding this once humble inflight offering. We spoke with FORMIA about the experiential side of the amenity kit offering, specifically how the experience of giving and receiving the kit should be a primary factor in its development and delivery. We hope this special issue brings you, our readers, better insight into the world of inflight amenities and the conversations that are currently happening surrounding this aspect of passenger services in the industry. It will be exciting to see where these conversations take us and what — if anything — will be different about that little bag we receive on our next flight.

723 Jefferson Street, NE Minneapolis, MN 55413, USA Tel: (1 612) 378-0862 Fax: (1 612) 378-0852 E-mail: rick@pax-intl.com Melissa Silva, Editor Tel: (1 905) 821-3344 x21 E-mail: melissa@pax-intl.com CONTRIBUTORS Mary Jane Pittilla Stathis Kefallonitis, Ph.D

A R T D E PA R T M E N T Jessica Hearn E-mail: jessica@globalmarketingcom.ca

ADVERTISING OFFICES Kevin Greene, Advertising Sales Executive Tel: (1 905) 821-3344 x31 E-mail: kevin@pax-intl.com PAX International is published six times a year (January/February, March/April, May, June/July/August, September/October, November/December) by PAX International, 26 Pearl Street, Mississauga, Ontario L5M 1X2, Canada. International Distribution. Subscriptions: $200 for one year; $300 for two years; $400 for three years. Art and photographs will not be returned unless accompanied by return postage. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher or editor. June/July 2016, Special Issue. Printed in Canada. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. © PAX International magazine

ISSN 1206-5714 Key title: Pax International

Melissa Silva Editor, PAX International

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Contents 6

LATEST LAUNCHES PAX International rounds up some of the latest — and greatest kits launched so far this year

10 THE CASE DEBATE

As the first impression of an amenity kit, the case or bag, whether hard or soft, can dictate the passenger’s overall experience of the offering, rendering the case just as important — if not more — than its contents

12 A LEVEL UP

PAX International chatted with luxury airline amenity expert Matthew Delemere, Managing Director of Eyelevel Ltd. about how commercial airlines can elevate the inflight amenity offering

14 KIDDING AROUND

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As the one item that can be the difference between an enjoyable and an unenjoyable flight, the kid’s amenity kit holds great potential, and suppliers are tapping into it in innovative ways

16 BEYOND THE BAG

While case design and product selection are significant components of an amenity kit offering, leading supplier FORMIA illustrates how the experience of giving and receiving the kit often matters more

18 GUEST COLUMN

Comfort kits: demystifying what passengers want by Stathis Kefallonitis, Ph.D., Founder and President at branding.aero

20 COMFORT ZONES

Airlines are seeing Economy Class amenity kits as an extension of their brand values in a competitive marketplace

22 THE ART OF THE KIT

In the ever-changing segment of amenity kit design, some of the world’s most famous creative forces are now finding their work featured in the airline cabin

24 WHAT’S IN A BRAND?

20

With its prestige and instant recognition, a brand can elevate the amenity kit offering, helping airlines differentiate themselves and encouraging passengers to book their next flight

CONSUMER TRENDS

26 CONSUMER CONSCIOUSNESS

This year’s WTCE was the first for the new LSG Group umbrella brand, but the company’s new focus on consumers has been building for years and around the world

29 THE COMMEMORATIVE KIT

While it serves many purposes, the amenity kit can be used as a vessel through which an airline can mark a special occasion and at times, step aside for a different type of offering altogether

30 PAX PICKS

From headsets to fragrances, we’ve rounded up a wish list of amenities handpicked for a range of passengers, from the tech-savvy to the beautyfocused and others in-between

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ON THE COVER:

AMENITIES SPECIAL ISSUE

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LATEST LAUNCHES p.

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LUXURY FOR VIP AIR TRAVEL p.

20

RETHINKING ECONOMY KITS p.

Herschel amenity bag with dental set, earplugs, eyeshade, socks and a pen for Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy Class passengers. Photo courtesy of Harmony.

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LABOR MARKET FORECAST: CHINA 32 POWERHOUSE FOR PRODUCTION

While other countries in the region may be emerging as possible manufacturing sources, amenity kit producers and industry watchers say China still ticks all the boxes and has earned their loyalty


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LATEST LAUNCHES

Fresh pickings PAX International rounds up some of the latest — and greatest kits launched so far this year

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lthough we are only halfway through 2016, suppliers and airlines have already presented some of the year’s best kit designs — and contents — that it will be exciting to see what the latter half of the year will bring. PAX International rounds up some of these great kits that make up the industry’s latest launches.

Linstol teams up with United for the Olympics

Linstol has worked with United to design a family of amenity kits celebrating Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Launched this month, the Global First and BusinessFirst kits both feature a fuselage-inspired tin that opens to reveal Team USA-inspired contents including an eyeshade and sock. Other amenities include: earplugs, pen, dental kit, mints, facial tissue, comb, Cowshed cosmetics (provided by WESSCO International), and b4 hand sanitizer. Also launched this month, the Transcontinental amenity kit is packed in an embossed tin and also includes a Team USA-inspired eyeshade and sock in addition to earplugs, Cowshed lip balm and b4® hand sanitizer.

Qatar’s kid’s kits designed by Buzz feature Hasbro Gaming games — Monopoly, Twister, Guess Who and Connect 4

items on offer, young passengers will also find glow-in-the-dark elements, interactive bags, a gadget stand, collectable Monopoly and Mr. Potato Head meal boxes, a peek-a-boo Mr. Potato Head plush toy and a soft book for infants. “Building on the popularity that the Qatar Airways children’s activity kits have delivered for many years, we are excited to provide a fresh new offering to enhance the flying experience for the entire family,” said Qatar Airways’ Senior Vice President Customer Experience, Rossen Dimitrov in the launch announcement. “We are proud to introduce the new Hasbro Gaming activity kits and meal boxes, our most innovative so far, and we are confident they will provide plenty of educational fun and enrich the overall travel experience for our passengers — both parents and children.” After the launch, Qatar Airways released a video of Mr. Potato Head heading off on holiday to celebrate the activity sets and meal boxes.

WESSCO celebrates Panama’s culture with new Copa kits

(left to right) United’s Transcontinental, Global First and BusinessFirst Team USA amenity kits designed by Linstol and United

Qatar collaborates with Buzz and Hasbro for new kid’s kits

Earlier this year, Qatar Airways launched a range of activity sets and meal boxes for children, in partnership with Hasbro Gaming developed by Australian-based Buzz. The award-winning kits — TravelPlus award for Best Kids Kit (kids over six years old) — feature characters Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head to keep even the youngest of passengers entertained during a flight. The kits offer more levels of interactivity and playability inspired by Mr. Potato Head plush toys and Hasbro Gaming brand board games, known for their suite of leading family entertainment properties. Featuring classic titles like Monopoly, Twister, Guess Who and Connect 4, the activity kits have been developed specifically for children from the ages of 0–2 years and 3–12 years. A total of four kits, each featuring a different type of game, are available on both inbound flights to Doha and outbound flights from Doha, long haul and short-haul flights. Among the 6  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  JUNE/JULY 2016

WESSCO International and Copa Airlines, Panama’s flag carrier, drew inspiration from the traditional patterns of the various indigenous ethnic groups that make up the culturally diverse nation of Panama, to come up with a unique culture-themed kit launched earlier this year. The abstract geometric figures depicted on both the outside of the bag and on the eyeshade represent Panama’s distinctive landscape and wildlife. Inside, passengers will find the aforementioned eyeshade, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a pair of socks, and tubes of almond-scented hand lotion and lip balm along with a small card explaining the kit’s novel design. Copa Airlines’ culture-themed kits designed by WESSCO feature traditional Panamanian patterns


LATEST LAUNCHES

Lufthansa’s amenity kit, supplied by SPIRIANT

Lufthansa re-launches SPIRIANT kit for summer

The LSG Group’s TravelPlus award-winning kit will fly again this summer on Lufthansa German Airlines after it debuted on the airline last fall. The SPIRIANT product group designed the kit in collaboration with the famous Bogner German fashion label. It is the first time a European airline has won in this category. “What makes this kit so special is that it is not the usual leather kit filled with standard shaving equipment, but a kit that really appeals to the young and modern male First Class traveler,” said the founder and CEO of TravelPlus Media, Simon Ward. Containing La Prairie grooming products and two practical inner mini-pockets, the kit met all five elements of the “TPLUS” criteria (Trend, Pleasure, Luxury, Usability and Style), according to the jury. “We at Lufthansa are proud to provide our passengers with award-winning kits that cater to the needs of a sophisticated audience as a result of our successful cooperation with SPIRIANT,” said Kirstin Schwalbe, Manager Customer Experience at Lufthansa, in the announcement of the kit re-launch. SPIRIANT also received the gold TravelPlus Amenity Bag Award for the “best children’s goody bag under 6” three times in a row.

Each Neal’s Yard piece is infused with certified-organic essential oils to relax and refresh whilst the natural moisturizing ingredients help soften and hydrate the skin. The product launch kit is made of natural canvas with a hand strap, and contains: Bee Lovely Hand Cream 10ml; White Tea Facial Mist 10ml; Shea Nut & Orange Organic Lip Formula 4g; ANA original toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask and earplugs.

Jan Taminiau designs comfort bag for KLM A white and red version of the Jan Taminiau-designed comfort bag for KLM C

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ANA offers Neal’s Yard Products in Business Class

ANA is the first airline to offer Neal’s Yard Remedies as inflight amenities starting this month. These amenities are offered to passengers in Business Class on long-haul international flights, including flights between Japan and Europe, North America (excluding Honolulu) and Sydney. Neal’s Yard Remedies was established in 1981 as England’s first natural apothecary. The company offers a full line-up of organic cosmetics, aroma goods and herbal products, and has expanded to 20 countries worldwide.

Neal’s Yard Remedies products are currently flying on ANA

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Dutch designer Jan Taminiau has designed comfort bags for KLM Royal Dutch Airline’s World Business Class. Since the end of March, passengers in KLM World Business Class have received the bags while onboard intercontinental flights. Taminiau will design new comfort bags for KLM every year for the next few years — a total of six bags in 12 different colors. The bags, designed for both men and women, contain essential items for a long flight and are designed for use post-flight. The first comfort bag is a clutch bag inspired by a dress in Taminiau’s haute couture collection, while the second is a wallet. “KLM has worked for many years with established names from the Dutch design world so that we can continue to surprise our passengers,” said Miriam Kartman, KLM Executive Vice President Inflight Services in the launch release. “Taminiau’s designs are elegant and extraordinary with a distinctly international allure. KLM is proud to work with a designer of his caliber. The new comfort bags are not only attractive; they are also extremely practical. I know that passengers are going to enjoy the different designs.”


CASE MATERIALS

The case

DEBATE by

MELISSA SILVA

As the first impression of an amenity kit, the case or bag, whether hard or soft, can dictate the passenger’s overall experience of the offering, rendering the case just as important — if not more — than its contents

“D

on’t judge a book by its cover” might be one of the most commonly used phrases, often figuratively used with regards to people and well, in the event of judging them. Generally regarded as something you shouldn’t do, one instance where it is acceptable to judge something by its appearance is when receiving an amenity kit. While the contents inside the kit are exciting to unveil, it is the case or bag that will dictate the overall experience — the more appealing the case is, the more appealing the products inside become, and the more likely the bag will be used post-flight. “The case or bag sets up the passengers’ product experience expectations,” says Simon Kwan, Senior Creative for Watermark Products. “Before they even get inside the bag to review the contents, passengers see and touch the bag. If the bag is attractive, well designed, and well made, then it’s likely that the contents have also been as carefully considered.”

One of the world’s first hard cases for the airline industry, the Marc Newson pods for Qantas, were designed and produced by Buzz

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Samsonite hard-case amenity kits developed by FORMIA for All Nippon Airways

Kwan says passengers may assume a cheap looking or boring bag design indicates a lack of care or investment on the airline’s part. “As most premium cabin amenity kits are co-branded and feature branded contents, it’s even more critical to ensure amenity bags make a great first impression with passengers, as the bags and contents also represent a significant marketing investment for the co-brand,” he adds.

Case in point

While traditionally passengers have received soft-case amenity kits, hard-cases have in recent years become quite popular, largely due to the hard case trends that have emerged with luggage. “There have been recent trends in luggage towards hard cases and amenity kits

have followed this trend,” says Simon Yaffe, Director Client Relationships for Buzz. “In our experience, feedback from passengers is very much split 50/50 with various aspects of both hard and soft cases being appealing. Hard cases can offer additional protection for kit contents and can also be re-used to store items such as charging cables and ear buds. Soft kits will always be popular and have longevity after the flight for personal amenity items and cosmetics. Soft kits are more flexible and expandable and make best use of premium packing space.” From the passenger perspective, Watermark Product’s Kwan says that soft cases can feel more luxurious and take up less space when partly packed or emptied, while hard cases offer better protection of contents and can appear more sleek and modern, but do take up more space. Yves Alavo, Product and Brand Director for FORMIA says soft and hard cases are often the source of debate. “While hard cases tend to appeal more to certain passengers as a miniaturized version of their luggage, the soft cases are equally appealing when the material chosen reflects the brand’s DNA,” he says. As a leader in hard case concepts, FORMIA has the most extensive portfolio of luggage brands, including Rimowa, Samsonite, Bric’s, Dot Drops and Zero Halliburton. “We’ve developed an expertise in hard cases while working with these brands and at the same time have developed soft cases for airlines looking for more compact solutions,” adds Alavo. Nick Bregman, Chief Operating Officer


CASE MATERIALS for leading provider of quality airline, hotel and cruise line amenities, WESSCO International, says even though hard cases appear to be trendy at the moment, soft cases are still the most common materials being offered to airline clients. “Hard cases are timeless, offering great surfaces for imagery and additional protection for delicate items inside, while soft cases offer greater options on shapes, materials and packing flexibility,” he adds. In 2008, Buzz designed and produced one of the world’s first hard cases for the airline industry — Marc Newson pods for Qantas. Newson oversaw the design of all the airline’s interiors and worked alongside Qantas to elevate the customer experience in the lounges and with seat design. His vision was extended to the onboard amenity offering with the hard pod case created in the same signature material and pattern as the seats. Buzz is currently working with Delta Air Lines to create both a soft- and hard-case kit. Since 2015, Buzz has created TUMI hard- and soft-case kits for Delta marking the first time that the brand has offered a hard case kit for amenity use inflight. For frequent business travelers, hard- and softside kits are offered in alternate direction of travel, allowing customers to collect one each way and keep it for re-use after their flight.

Sustainable solutions

With the airline industry under pressure to keep carbon emission growth neutral, Buzz decided to take a good look at materials and research more sustainable options. “Today more than ever, environmental consciousness is central to good design,” says Buzz’s Yaffe. “Consumers are more conscious of sustainability and expect more from the products they regularly use. Whilst there is no doubt that sustainability is a key current trend, this will be a longstanding shift towards sustainable product design.” Buzz investigated manufacturing processes and material selection, and identified the opportunity to develop an amenity-related product that would be a first for the airline industry. “Together with our clients, we identified some of the issues with airline blankets. We were really inspired to come up with something better in this product category because of the possible impact it could have across the airline industry,” explains Yaffe. The result was Buzz’s groundbreaking ecoTHREAD™ blanket which uses plastic bottles rescued

from landfills, repurposed into thread and spun into cozy, warm blankets. “Sustainability can also can manifest itself in an amenity kit that has a life beyond the plane,” adds Yaffe. “Delivering branded amenity kits that offer value will ensure they are used and reused for many years to come.” Watermark Products has taken the sustainability route with its Premium Economy Class amenity kits for Cathay Pacific, featuring bags made from RPET felt — a polyester non-woven felted fabric produced from recycled plastic water bottles — which has been accredited by the Hong Kong Green Council. The kits also include toothbrushes made from a corn-derived bio plastic. At this year’s World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo this past April, Watermark Products exhibited a few unique bag concepts made from paper. Origami folding inspired one concept, which featured laser engraved graphics instead of ink printing. “The growth in interest and in the application of better materials as well as manufacturing methods, is partly driven by consumer awareness and demand, and partly by industry innovation and corporate social responsibility,” says Watermark Products’ Kwan. “As a company that prides itself on ethical business practices and supply chain development, as well as design and technical innovation, we proactively seek out materials, products, and production methods that reduce our business’ environmental impact and at the same time, create new and interesting products for our customers.” Kwan doesn’t see sustainability as a trend, but rather, the direction the industry

needs to move in, eventually becoming the status quo. “PVC bag fabrics, have been almost completely replaced by PU, EVA, and other materials that may eventually be replaced by plant-based bio-plastic fabrics. As our industry develops increasingly better products, there will be no desire to return to the older, inferior ones. That’s the great thing about heading towards sustainability; it’s achievable and once there, won’t be undone.” FORMIA recently worked with Austrian Airlines, following their request for recycled materials to be used to make their amenity kit offering, which ended up winning accolades. The company also worked with Swiss International Air Lines to develop wearable amenity kits featuring a beanie hat and neck warmer that reflect the heritage, alpine terrain and winter sports commonly associated with Switzerland. “We see an overall increase in demand for sustainable solutions, especially to reduce the use of plastic and increase the use of PSM (Plastarch Material), which is a biodegradable, thermoplastic resin for packaging and comfort items in the kit,” says FORMIA’s Alavo. “This trend also includes skincare in term of using ingredients from sustainable source and recycled packaging.” Having recently developed cases using cork, WESSCO continues to research innovative and environmentally-friendly materials to offer as part of its proposals on specific projects. Like many other suppliers, WESSCO believes this type of sourcing is here to stay. “Sustainability is not a trend,” says WESSCO’s Bregman.“We foresee that demand for sustainable materials will only increase.” Hawaiian-themed amenity kits for Hawaiian Airlines developed by WESSCO International features a soft case

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LUXURY INSIDER Q&A

up A level by

Matthew Delamere, Managing Director of Eyelevel Ltd., has worked in the VIP airline and private jet industry for the last 16 years

MELISSA SILVA

PAX International chatted with luxury airline amenity expert Matthew Delemere, Managing Director of Eyelevel Ltd. about how commercial airlines can elevate the inflight amenity offering

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atthew Delamere is no stranger to luxury. As the Managing Director of Eyelevel Ltd., a supplier of all things luxury to VIP airline and private jets, Delamere has developed an expert understanding of what passengers are looking for when it comes to amenities, and might be the first to tell you that a little bit of opulence can go a long way — especially at 30,000 feet in the air. A frequent flyer, Delamere has received his share of amenity kits and can quickly identify when a kit has been done right and also done terribly wrong. Based on his years of experience, Delamere shares with PAX International what commercial airlines can learn from VIP airlines and private jets — including the difference few simple upgrades can make — in this Luxury Insider Q&A. PAX International: How long has Eyelevel worked in the VIP airline and private jet sector? Matthew R Delamere: We started working with private jets in 2008 and since then, Eyelevel has grown to be recognized as a leading key supplier of luxury products in this aviation sector. We also work with some commercial airlines and supply them with a various range of onboard products. We are now very pleased to offer our expertise and services to commercial airlines worldwide. PAX: How has the element of luxury changed when it comes to flying, let’s say in the last 10 years or so? Delamere: Flying is now commonplace for most people. Those who are fortunate

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enough to fly in Premium cabins and choose a full-service airline have a perceived expectation for their upcoming flight. Airlines are competing for passengers and over the last 10 years have invested millions in making their aircraft cabins the most attractive option. From flat beds and bars, to private cabins and even showers on board, airlines have upped their game to entice passengers to fly with them. For passengers who are after a little extra comfort, some airlines have invested in Premium-Economy cabins, where passengers can expect something more than they would receive in Economy Class. Airlines have also partnered with leading luxury global brands like Bvlgari to give passengers an elegant flying experience. PAX: What can commercial airlines learn from the VIP airline and private jet sector in terms of amenities? Delamere: It is all about service and delivery and private operators are very aware of this. I am a committee member of the European Cabin Crew Service Conference for private aviation that is held each year in Brussels, and our strap line is “Striving for Excellence,” coupled with great product delivery. Crew attend the conference in order to help improve their service on board and learn about new products and amenities. The amenity bags Eyelevel designs are a key element of the passenger experience. Carefully choosing recognized luxury brands and quality socks and eyeshades for example, is taken into consideration. What passengers are served during a flight represents the airline’s commitment to

their passengers’ comfort and satisfaction. We worked with a commercial carrier that was flying a narrow body aircraft with an old-fashioned interior. We improved aspects of the cabin that we could just adding items, like good quality amenity bags with a selection of luxury items; a decent memory foam style pillow that adds proper support and comfort; and duvets instead of blankets. Instead of piling all these items on the seats preventing boarding passengers from sitting down, items were served to passengers once they were seated comfortably. Granted, on larger aircraft with a high number of Business Class seating this is a challenge, but most First Class cabins hold maybe 10 passengers so these changes can be implemented. PAX: Do you think commercial airlines can adopt some of the standards and principles of service and amenities that are currently onboard VIP airlines and private jets? Do you believe doing so is feasible? Delamere: I travel the world and although some airlines manage to pull off a great service that might be comparable to that on a private jet, some fail miserably. Cost is a key factor of course, but a few pounds/ dollars more per passenger head can make such a difference. I was recently on a flight in Business Class. Some of the products on offer were inexpensive and unpleasant to use. There was no mattress protector to lie on, just a worn blanket, a flat pillow and the amenity bag resembled one you may have received in Economy Class in the 1980’s. To elevate the experience, I would upgrade the hot


LUXURY INSIDER Q&A towel to one of higher quality, like Eyelevel’s luxury bamboo towel that feels amazing to touch. I would also invest in mattress protectors so passengers are not just lying on seats without a barrier. If pillow cost were an issue, I would offer two of the pillows then reorder plumper more comfortable pillows — like those in our range — when the time came. I would also go back to the drawing board with the amenity bag and perhaps remove the inexpensive pen and sock and concentrate on good quality earplugs, eye shades and a branded luxury amenity. PAX: From your perspective, what do you think about the amenity kits currently offered onboard commercial airlines? Do you see room for improvement? Delamere: In my experience there are a couple of leaders in commercial aviation that offer great amenity bags, but there are also some Skytrax three- and fourstar airlines that offer an underwhelming amenity bag. When creating VIP experiences for our customers, we always think about customer expectations and what they are likely to be accustomed to using at home. We like to add the ‘wow’ factor. Some bags on offer are clearly just an afterthought — an area where airlines can save money, which becomes evident to the passenger. PAX: What are some small changes commercial airlines can implement with regards to their amenity kit offerings that would

make a big difference to the passenger? Delamere: The touch and feel and overall impression of the bag. It should be made of a touch- friendly material that represents quality and luxury. The color should be in harmony with the cabin environment, and low-cost add-on items like pens and combs should be done away with. Airlines should spend a bit extra on the toiletry amenities — instead of offering a hand cream, face cream and a lip balm, forget the hand cream and spend more money on just two items, like a lip balm that most people will use and a moisturizer that is just as effective on the hands as it is on the face. I understand airlines have to be price conscious, but there is the old saying — “less is more.” PAX: What do you think today’s passenger is really looking for when it comes to amenity kits? What does the passenger really want? Delamere: In my opinion, passengers expect: a good eye shade that’s comfortable and attractive to wear; decent ear plugs to block aircraft noise; a quality toothbrush and branded paste; mouth wash; a mirror — we build these into our bags; a nice smelling refreshing toiletry selection, preferably with a recognized luxury global brand; and finally, a nice pair of socks — not polyester tube socks, but a pair that’s worth taking off your own for. PAX: Has the growing interest in sustainability and a move towards more natural products altered the amenity kit landscape?

Has this created any challenges? Delamere: Yes, some large carriers are using eco-friendly blankets and accessories and we are all very conscious of this. The brands we work with have embraced the trend and have invested millions of pounds in research and development into sustainable products, which we offer. Just because a product is eco-friendly doesn’t mean it has to be lower quality. PAX: If you could create the ideal amenity kit, what would it include and how would it look? Delamere: Personally, the ideal amenity kit would be contained in a bag that I would use for future travel and in my home. I like the treasure chest types, with a built in mirror, lined in silk or satin depending on budget, with separate pockets that neatly display a range of high quality products for lip, face and body. It would also contain a silk eye mask with comfort fit single strap, wax earplugs to block out sound, a good quality mouthwash coupled with full size toothbrush and branded paste. A pack of mints would be a nice touch. I would like a proper pair of socks, made of soft bamboo, or if it were First Class, an Alpaca wool mix — cashmere would be the ultimate of course. Finally, and if budget permitted, a small travel size Eau de toilette to match the toiletries to use as a quick freshen up after a long flight — a smell that would remind me of my comfortable flight experience.

One of Eyelevel’s amenity kits featuring a range of products from esteemed French beauty brand, L’Occitane en Provence

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KID’S KITS

Kidding around by

Space Kids Mission Moonstone, a virtual reality app that can be used in conjunction with a cardboard virtual reality viewer, will be a part of the onboard children’s kit supplied by Watermark Products

MELISSA SILVA

As the one object that can be the difference between an enjoyable and an unenjoyable flight, the kid’s kit holds great potential, and suppliers are tapping into it in innovative ways

C

hildren on planes. For some travelers, this scenario seals the deal for an unpleasant flight. This reaction has become common among travelers — so much so, that in honor of this past Mother’s Day, JetBlue Airways launched the first ever “FlyBabies” flight, during which the airline rewarded passengers with 25% off of their next flight every time a baby cried. Since not every airline is keen on taking JetBlue’s approach to help its passengers — both young and old — coexist harmoniously onboard, an amenity kit for children is a useful alternative. Not only can youth and adult passengers benefit from an entertaining and engaging kid’s kit, so can the airline, and it is easy to understand why: if an airline successfully captivates a child’s attention with a kit, that child is more likely to encourage his or her parents to fly with that airline again on their next trip. This ‘win-win’ situation is largely understood by leading creative product agency, Watermark Products. “In the long term this [situation] can also help to create a strong brand loyalty between the airline and the next generation of paying passengers,” says Alexander Atkinson, Creative Director, Watermark Products. Atkinson lists surprise, excitement, brand partnerships, entertainment and the longevity of the kit (post-flight use) as Watermark Products’ key priorities when designing kits for children. “The ability to entertain is crucial and the ability to entertain for the majority of the flight is not always an easy task,” he adds. “Many people

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will request a kit that can keep a child occupied on their own, but that depends on the target age; when creating products for very young fliers then, an element of parental interaction is often beneficial.” Developing one kit that caters to children of all ages is definitely a challenge, says Atkinson. “There is certainly a trend to separate children’s kits by age — typically babies, 3-6 years and 7-12 years — and often the focus lies with the 3-6-year range. Longevity, one of Watermark’s key priorities when designing children’s kits, is also a priority of every airline today, as each strives to meet sustainable targets. “It is our role, as a supplier, to create products with post-flight use in order to minimize the waste left behind and the impact on the environment,” says Atkinson. “Again, if we can also create a kit with an entertainment factor that can carry on post-flight, then we have created a great kit for both the passenger and the airline.” As technology continues to be a key driver in the day-to-day existence for both millennial parents and post-millennial children (born 2001 onward), Atkinson believes it will continue to play a larger role in kit development. “Often a great kit will be one that works in tandem with either the IFE or the passengers’ current tech products,” he explains. “We have already seen many iterations of an iPad or tablet case and accessories such as a simple stylus will further complement existing tech products. Technologies inspired by wearables, and connected devices will become more commonplace in onboard

products including children’s kits as they become more feasible.” At the same time, Atkinson says there is also a resurgence of traditional games; a desire of parents to have their children step away from the influx of technology and data information to enjoy the simple moments in life. “Increased sales in DIY toys show the popularity in this space, as well as ones that deliver a clear message on protecting the environment. Having young children of my own I can confirm that the age-old coloring activity book still keeps children entertained for a considerable amount of time even at high altitude,” says Atkinson. For this year’s World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo this past April, Watermark Products developed an innovative virtual reality (VR) app, Space Kids Mission Moonstone, to demonstrate the potential of using VR technology for young travelers. The app can be used in conjunction with a cardboard virtual reality viewer, which Watermark Products will supply as part of the children’s kit. “The result is a truly immersive experience for our young travelers of tomorrow, and something that hasn’t yet been seen on-board in this capacity,” says Atkinson. “We are constantly developing children’s kits with a particular focus on adding innovation through technology to our products. In addition to our developments in virtual reality, we have also developed augmented reality apps which can bring standard products, such as a coloring book, to life through the use of a smartphone or tablet.” Atkinson said he believes technology


KID’S KITS will continue to evolve children’s kits; however, he adds that the need for a tangible product will exist for years to come. “Tech products are exciting and the ability to implement them into children’s kits is getting easier; however, there is still a need for all of us to switch off and unplug from time to time — and often this is preferred by parents of their children — so we will continue to see new innovations in nontech based products also,” he says. Technology is definitely on the radar for Intex Comfort Products, a Huzhou, China-based passenger comfort products supplier that has been supplying the industry — originally via third parties, but for the last four years as a direct supplier — for more than 15 years. A key element for Intex when designing kid packs, is to make sure they are fun and entertaining. “At the end of the day if the kids are happy then the parents — and the other passengers — are too,” says Debbie Petch Commercial Manager for Intex Comfort Products. “We are currently working on adding to our kiddie pack a range of products that has to be used in conjunction with an iPad

or smartphone. We firmly believe this is the way forward — one only has to look in shops or online to see how toys are becoming more and more technology driven. For now, though, packs need to contain both traditional toys as well as those that are technology driven to meet the needs of all children,” says Petch. In addition to the fun and entertainment factors, Petch lists sustainability as a key feature of kit development, and one that is becoming increasingly important. “We try to provide products that can be used over and over again, not simply discarded. Our Icelandair kiddie pack for example, can be used as a blanket or a rucksack.” As airlines continue to look for ways to improve their sustainability record, offering a product that passengers will take away and re-use is appealing. “It ticks all the boxes in terms of product life longevity and in terms of the airline reducing waste, while also generating a ‘feel good’ factor with passengers and promoting brand loyalty,” explains Petch. When developing the kid’s kit with Icelandair, Intex was cognizant of what

the airline wanted: a product under its title ‘Little Explorers’ brand that was both fun and offered multiple uses. The initial idea was to make a cape-like product that could also serve as a blanket and could be combined with an activity pack and headset. “The product was then further developed to become a blanket that folded in on itself to become a little bag into which the activities and headset could be placed,” explains Petch. Once folded, the product can be used as a pillow and when unfolded, can be wrapped around the shoulders to become a cape, transforming the passenger into a ‘super hero’.

Icelandair ‘4 in 1’ kiddie pack developed by Intex Comfort Products

䤀䴀뜀倀刀䔀뜀匀匀䤀伀一 䄀一 䤀䐀䔀䄀Ⰰ 䘀䔀䔀䰀䤀一䜀Ⰰ 伀刀 伀倀䤀一䤀伀一  䄀䈀伀唀吀 匀伀䴀䔀吀䠀䤀一䜀 伀刀  匀伀䴀䔀伀一䔀Ⰰ 䘀伀刀䴀䔀䐀 圀䤀吀䠀伀唀吀  䌀伀一匀䌀䤀伀唀匀 吀䠀伀唀䜀䠀吀⸀

㜀㈀ 䨀漀栀渀渀礀挀愀欀攀 䠀椀氀氀 刀漀愀搀 ⸀ 䴀椀搀搀氀攀琀漀眀渀Ⰰ 刀䤀  ㈀㠀㐀㈀ 唀匀䄀 ⸀ ㄀ 㠀㠀㠀ⴀ㔀㜀㔀ⴀ䄀嘀䤀䐀 ⸀ 眀眀眀⸀䄀嘀䤀䐀瀀爀漀搀甀挀琀猀⸀挀漀洀 ⸀ 猀愀氀攀猀䀀䄀嘀䤀䐀瀀爀漀搀甀挀琀猀⸀挀漀洀

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EXPERIENTIAL AMENITIES

Beyond the bag by

MELISSA SILVA

While case design and product selection are significant components of an amenity kit offering, leading supplier FORMIA illustrates how the experience of giving and receiving the kit often matters more

W

hen looking at amenity kits, it is natural to examine the obvious components: the materials used to make the case or bag, the products included inside the kit, and a brand collaboration, if one occurred as part of its development. While it is important to examine these elements, the experiential element of the amenity kit offering between the airline and passenger cannot — and should not — be ignored. FORMIA, leading supplier of travel amenities, has long been known for indulging passengers with its amenity offerings and believes in a wide-ranging approach that often goes beyond the bag and into the experience. “Although we are, and remain, focused on the business of amenity kits, it would be simplistic to define amenity kits as simply a complimentary product offered on board to ease the discomfort of air travel,” explains Roland Grohmann, Managing Director of FORMIA. “Instead, we believe in the amenity kit as being a special point of interaction between the airline and the passenger with unlimited potential for meaningful communication. It’s a touchpoint of the airline’s understanding of comfort, care and ‘savoir-vivre’.” FORMIA takes a holistic approach when working with its airline partners

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to design an amenity program, which Grohmann says exceeds the mainstream complimentary kit offering. This alternative approach explains Grohmann, explores the opportunities of contact and comfort where the airline interacts with its passenger as if to say, “here you are; this is to make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable.” Part of this approach involves viewing the amenity kit as a gift — a token of appreciation and a memento of the trip. “These are products you are actually meant to take with you after your journey, share them, gift them, collect them, treasure them,” says Grohmann. “And the occasions when an airline can communicate with their passengers in these terms are multiple. The key is a good understanding of the passengers and the commitment to give them what they want and what they need, rather than general, impersonal, offthe-shelf solutions.” Part of this commitment says Grohmann, is offering specialty kits — kits that cross the boundaries of the standard offering and tie-in the different moments of interaction where the airline communicates to its customer, “we care about your comfort.” An example of this is the award-winning Hajj Kit, a special amenity kit for pilgrims

The award-winning Hajj Kit, a special amenity kit for pilgrims making the annual Hajj Pilgrimage

making the annual Hajj Pilgrimage. Available on board Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways, the kits comprise a compact, easy-to-carry bag which can transform into a larger shoe-bag to meet the requirements of the Hajj pilgrim. The bags contain a number of items considered essential for travelling pilgrims, including Qatar Airways customized counting beads, nonslide prayer mat, electronic counter, stone bag, non-slide socks and unique, specially developed wet wipes from the ‘Hajj Safe’ brand which meets the stringent demands of the Hajj pilgrims. Grohmann cites FORMIA’s seasonal kits — kits that are created with a specific celebration in mind — as another means by which an airline can connect with its passengers via its amenity offering. FORMIA recently supplied Swiss International Air Lines with a range of “Winter Collection” kits designed to reflect the heritage, Alpine terrain and winter sports commonly associated with Switzerland. The winter comfort items include “wearables” — a trendy beanie hat and a neck warmer. There is also a special Christmas festive sock that is offered on board during the month of December. The kits contain a variety of comfort items such as lip balm, anti-slide socks, terry-cotton eyeshades, ear plugs, branded dental products and


EXPERIENTIAL AMENITIES Ricola throat lozenges. “These kits largely exceed the idea of servicing the passenger whilst on board and instead, connects with the environment of the passenger’s home life, stepping into the passenger’s life on the ground,” says Grohmann. There are other unexpected opportunities for an airline to pamper its passengers and provide extra comfort, says Grohmann. In the unlucky event when the passenger experiences disrupted travel plans, faces an unscheduled overnight stay due to flight or airport delays or lost or delayed luggage, the airline is presented with an opportunity to use its amenity offering to turn an unpleasant situation around. FORMIA’s Overnight Kits for Turkish Airlines were designed with this scenario in mind. The kits, individually tailored to suit male and female travellers, contain items from Italian cosmetics brand Acca Kappa, as well as a number of comfort items designed to minimize the inconvenience caused to passengers, including toiletries and a change of underwear. “It is all this series of events that we can help to uplift the complete travel experi-

ence,” says Grohmann. “FORMIA helps airlines design their amenity program in a way that is not limited to the typical mainstream offering, but rather reflects a level of service that sets a new benchmark, comforting the passenger in an environment that exceeds the airline cabin.” It is this exact approach, says Grohm-

ann that has driven FORMIA over the last seven years to launch some of the most iconic and multi-awarded amenity kits. In doing so, FORMIA has helped shape the market, drive the industry forward and more importantly, demonstrate how to better understand — and meet — passengers’ needs.

FORMIA’s Overnight Kits for Turkish Airlines were specifically designed for passengers who experience disrupted travel plans

Professional wash-up systems for Inflight Catering

Fly on the wings of perfection in terms of cleanliness, hygiene and safety.

Cleaned for take-off

Security and safety are the most important values an airline can offer today. A great number of checks are required before the captain and cabin crew of an aircraft are finally able to welcome the first passenger on board. This includes, making certain that travellers will receive a clean and hygienic service. With our warewashing systems for Inflight catering, we at MEIKO stand for a clean and perfect start. Whether you are city-hopping or launching for a long haul flight, MEIKO’s professional warewashing systems are guaranteed to reach the recommended level in purity, hygiene and cleanliness without comprise. This is the reason why you can find our technology everywhere around the globe where reliability, safety and efficiency count – from small business airports to large international traffic hubs. Discover the versatility of our tailor-made warewashing systems. Find out what we at MEIKO call the clean solution.

www.meiko.de

www.pax-intl.com  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  17


GUEST COLUMN

COMFORT KITS: demystifying what passengers want by STATHIS KEFALLONITIS, PH.D. FOUNDER & PRESIDENT AT BRANDING.AERO

Stathis Kefallonitis, Ph.D.

use some of the contents onboard and then leave the rest behind. Using premium content brands to differentiate the passenger experience is popular among carriers. An amenity kit can take an airline’s brand to new territories by serving as a reminder of exceptional service or a fashion statement. It needs to be attractive enough so that passengers are willing to take this with them and continue using it. Singapore Airlines developed a kit for Premium Economy passengers to commemorate the airline’s 50th birthday. The pouches can be clipped together and are collectible items.

A marketing channel

O

ne of the onboard products that passengers used to look forward to was the amenity kit. These kits became synonymous to long-haul travel in premium class service but could be also found in economy cabins of some airlines. The initial goals of the amenity kit were to increase passenger comfort by providing eyeshades, socks and slippers alongside a variety of toiletries. The design and contents of these comfort kits continue to evolve, and they still form part of the onboard experience. A study that would calculate onboard usage of amenity kits would reveal usability trends. A percentage of passengers carry their own toiletries and often use these when necessary. The contents of comfort kits, although important for the passenger experience, are often seen as secondary. The use of premium contents or branded items in these kits increases the likelihood of them getting noticed by passengers. For the frequent traveler in business or first class, an amenity kit carries the most value when it is newly introduced. The more frequently a premium cabin passenger travels, the less attractive the amenity kit becomes (particularly in terms of product lifecycle). Premium class passengers simply

Amenity kits can be used as a means of engaging flyers in an emotional and experiential way. An amenity kit can become a communications channel or a branded ‘vehicle’ that can take the airline brand to new territories. The contents of a comfort kit may extend the presence of an airline brand beyond the duration of a flight – especially when a passenger chooses to reuse the outer bag or other contents, such as toiletries. Airlines have paired with other wellknown bag and beauty brands to: • Compliment and extend existing strengths. In premium cabins, this may translate to top-tier branded toiletries. Equally, in economy cabins (coach and premium economy), collaboration with well-known brands may translate to buy-on-board or duty-free sales that include premium brands. The paring of such branded items in a comfort kit creates a value-for-money feeling for the passenger and a return-on-investment (ROI) for airlines. • The creation of a complete co-branded experience (launch of a specially themed comfort kit or toiletry provider). A good example is the DeltaTUMI partnership or the LufthansaRimowa kit. Such approaches help create a stronger affinity between the airline and the passenger. Using branded experiences, the airline communicates a sense of care, as well as

Singapore Airlines new Premium Economy offer comes with its own kit

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creates a differentiated service. In recent years, airline branding has promoted what passengers value most. This is evident both in the tangible and intangible characteristics of the airline product. Customizing the entire experiential process provides an answer to a truly sociable and personalized airline service. As well as delivering a pleasant travel experience, innovation and comfort, airlines can greatly impact a passenger’s satisfaction by introducing unexpected ‘bonuses’ that delight customers. Often simple things can have a great impact on a passenger’s experience. For example, Hawaiian Airlines’ amenity kit used Hawaiian designs and patterns suggestive of the rich, local traditions Passenger-airline interactions that rely on sensorial cues are usually stronger and more meaningful. The more senses a passenger involves in experiencing an airline brand, the more meaningful the connection. An amenity kit involves most passenger senses (besides taste, unless if this includes, for example, a packet of mints or chewing gum). The more consistent an amenity kit is when using visual, auditory, olfactory and gustatory characteristics, the stronger the passenger experience. An amenity kit can enhance the passenger experience. A more memorable experience is more likely to form greater future-service expectations. Style and comfort interpreted into concrete amenity kit product and brand features is an answer to what passengers want. A positive and consistent experience makes an airline brand trustworthy. This trust makes passengers want to re-experience moments of their flight over and over again; thus increasing loyalty. What matters is a strong brand and the way this gets translated into differential advantages of an amenity kit that helps an airline stand out in competition. Hawaiian’s amenity kit


Distinctively Distinct Linstol works one-on-one with airlines to craft amenity kits from the ground up. Our ability to design kits that distinctively fulfill the needs of your passengers, brand and budget is what sets Linstol apart as distinct.

www.Linstol.com United States |

+1.239.530.7865 | LinstolUS@Linstol.com

United Kingdom | +44.1252.620630 | LinstolUK@Linstol.com Hong Kong | +86.156.1855.3533 | LinstolHK@Linstol.com China | +86.21.5508.9020 | LinstolCN@Linstol.com


ECONOMY AMENITIES

Comfort zones

For long haul, Turkish Airlines selected products from Institut Karite

Airlines are seeing Economy Class amenity kits as an extension of their brand values in a competitive marketplace by

MARY JANE PITTILLA

I

nflight amenity kits aren’t just destined for high-spending Business and First Class passengers any more. A number of airlines are taking their customer service up a notch with amenity kits to pamper passengers in Economy Class. Turkish Airlines aims to take Economy Class amenity kits to a whole new level of luxury as part of its drive to offer excellent customer service. The ambitious, awardwinning airline has introduced Economy Class amenity kits both for long-haul and short-haul flights. For Economy Class passengers on long-haul flights, two branded kits are offered from a pair of renowned names in the world of luxury: Chopard and Institut Karite. Chopard kits are supplied on outbound flights and Institut Karite on inbound flights. Each kit is offered in a different color, and both are supplied by FORMIA Airline Supplies Ltd. For Economy Class passengers on short-haul flights, both for outbound and inbound flights, the kits have many different color options. Here, the supplier is SZIC Industrial Company Limited. The new Relax Sets for long-haul flights include a simple yet ingenious reversible eye-shade emblazoned with the phrases ‘Do not disturb’ and ‘Wake me up to eat’ printed on each side. The discreet and reusable kit also contains soft tube socks with non-skid rubber sole, comb/brush, branded foam earplugs, a dental kit and some cosmetic items, specially branded with either Chopard or Institut Karite. The bag can be reused as toiletry bag or to store personal items when traveling.

SZIC Industrial Company supplied Turkish Airlines with its short-haul amenity kit

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The Economy Class kits in short haul have a reversible eyeshade, soft tube socks with non-skid rubber sole, and foam earplugs. Offering amenity kits to Economy Class passengers is all about customer satisfaction, according to Turkish Airlines. “Before the flight, during and after the flight, our travel kits onboard service is one of the special ways that we aim to increase the levels of service offered to our precious passengers in Economy Class as well as their satisfaction. That’s why all travel kits in our inventory with a choice of varieties and colors have a wide range of innovative products. In addition, colors and types of kits are revised in 18-month periods, according to annual concepts,” says the airline. In addition, Turkish Airlines seeks to devise products that meet its drive for quality and functionality, as well as promoting high quality design principles. The amenity kits are specially designed for the carrier, in line with its desire to offer its passengers a genuine high quality gift. New tenders for amenity kits are organized every three years. With regard to the design, the interested companies must adhere to the Turkish Airlines brand identity and corporate image. The designs are evaluated according to their creativity, continuity and quality criteria by a dedicated team. Turkish Airlines also undertakes research on consumer behavior and product trends. A new tender will be held towards the end of next year. Turkish Airlines holds in high regard the added value of providing a memorable amenity kit to its passengers, seeing it as a differentiator in the competitive airline marketplace. “It’s a souvenir of the trip that demonstrates an understanding of

our customers’ behavior. These products provide a positive contribution which is treated as a strategic partnership to the market and competition from competing products,” the airline says. The kits are part of a wider strategy to be a first class global carrier that consistently focuses on quality and innovation. “We’re proud and excited to further extend our range of passenger onboard facilities and to embark on a number of industry firsts. In particular, we became the first airline in the world to offer renowned branded bags to Economy Class passengers.”

A relaxed approach

In its continued effort to find fresh ways of enhancing the travel experience for its guests, Hawaiian Airlines began offering new amenity kits on international flights in all cabins from April 2015. The airline partnered with one of Hawaii’s most popular local apparel/graphic designers, Manuheali‘i, to design an exclusive print pattern for Hawaiian Airlines that features a modern banana leaf in teal and light grey, reflecting the scenery, hospitality and spirit of the Hawaiian islands. Other elements of the amenity kit include hydrating mist, hand and body lotion, and unscented lip balm from private label skincare brand, Lōli‘i, which means relaxation in the Hawaiian language. The Lōli‘i brand features a coconut essence in its products which evokes the tropical allure of Hawaii. The main cabin kit contains a Hawaiian Airlines branded pillow box with print that features the exclusive Manuheali‘i design, grey eyeshades, ear buds, and ear plugs. Meanwhile, UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways offers all long haul and ultra-long haul guests a Sleep Tight amenity kit. This reusable cotton drawstring pouch includes soft cabin socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, foam earplugs, and a reversible eye mask that notifies cabin crew whether you want


ECONOMY AMENITIES Etihad Airways Sleep Tight kit gives instructions to crew on the eye mask

to be woken for meals (‘Wake me up to eat’) or left alone to sleep through the service (‘Do not disturb’). Providing amenity kits in Economy Class is part of Etihad’s desire to reimagine the air travel experience through its Economy Class, allowing guests to relax in total comfort and experience warm Arabian hospitality. “Amenity kits underscore the airline’s commitment to making each guest’s jour-

Hawaiian Airlines’ main cabin amenity kit debuted in April of last year

ney a remarkable one — both on the ground and in the air — across all classes of service,” the airline says. “From the amenity kits to the bestin-class service provided onboard, every part of the travel experience is curated to provide luxury, comfort, and style.”

SPOTLIGHT ON THE SUPPLIERS FORMIA, a leading amenity kit specialist, has a history of long-term customers for Economy Class amenity kits, but two clients in particular have a special kit where FORMIA has added value: Korean Air and Turkish Airlines. “Some time ago we developed for Korean Air a foldable pair of slippers to be included in their EY kit,” says FORMIA Managing Director Roland Grohmann. “The revamped pouch made from non-woven material was developed as a practical drawstring bag offering the passengers functionality and bringing a new design to frequent flyers. The concept embodies the Korean spirit of hospitality and quality, including — besides the highly successful foldable slippers — an established retail branded toothpaste with toothbrush.” Turkish Airlines has one of the most valuable Economy Class amenity kits in the industry, notes Grohmann, featuring for the first time in Economy Class a retail branded kit that could be mistaken for a business class kit. “With a generous selection of comfort items and a branded Chopard lip balm that brings exceptional value to an Economy Class amenity, the pouches come in three colors and invite passengers to find a number of post-flight uses. “Similarly, also onboard Turkish, a branded versatile flat velvet pouch was developed in collaboration with the French skincare brand Institut Karite to truly pamper the Economy Class traveler.” Grohmann said he believes airlines offer amenity kits in Economy as a way of reaching out to their largest passenger group, signaling that they care about the comfort of their trip. Amenity kits are “very important” to the airlines generally, he adds. “Airlines realize there’s a lot that can be done to indulge YC passengers and translate their own values and promises across more touchpoints with passengers.” Meanwhile, Australian company Buzz currently supplies Delta Air Lines with an economy kit for passengers on longhaul international flights. The sleep kits are designed to assist passengers get better rest when traveling and arrive at their destination feeling refreshed and relaxed. They include an eyeshade and earplugs packaged in a reusable foil bag. Super simple and functional amenities on Korean Air

Expert gives his verdict Simon Ward, CEO of TravelPlus Media and founder of the Airline Amenity Bag Awards, is an expert in inflight amenity kits. Over the years, he has seen an uplift in the number of Economy Class kits offered by the airlines. “The number of Economy Class kits has increased in the past few years as airlines wake up to the importance of a good night’s sleep for passengers at the back of the plane,” he says. He notes that entries to the annual TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Awards increased by 21% in 2015 compared with 2014. “This is a clear endorsement of the importance long- haul passengers are to the global airlines. We have seen a growing trend for global brands to be associated with Economy kits, and more attention to the design, quality and the content of these kits.” Ward said he believes airlines are increasing their investment in Economy passengers flying long-haul by gifting amenity kits with comfort items to help passengers relax whilst flying. TravelPlus top 10 amenity kits for Economy Class are as follows: 1. Turkish Airlines (FORMIA) 2. Hawaiian Airlines (WESSCO International) 3. China Airlines (FORMIA) 4. Etihad 5. Air Mauritius (Skysupply) 6. Qatar Airways (Zibo Rainbow) 7. Virgin Atlantic (Harmony - gategroup) 8. Air Berlin (Skysupply) 9. Aeromexico (WESSCO International) 10. Aeroflot (AK Services)

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ARTISTS AND AMENITIES

The art of

the kit

In the ever-changing segment of amenity kit design, some of the world’s most famous creative forces are now finding their work featured in the airline cabin Colorful artistic work adorns the TAP Portugal amenity kits, modeled after sardine tins

by RICK LUNDSTROM

T

he humble amenity kit, once a beige and rather featureless feature found in the seatback or cushions has been embraced by airlines with new vigor, and suppliers are collaborating with artistic talent from around around the world, and bringing in new materials and bold designs. Driving the innovation could be many sources. Airlines are again flush with cash in many parts of the world. Combine increasing load factors with much lower fuel prices and airlines are free to plow profits into small perks for the passengers. Like the celebrity chefs that can be found working with full-service airlines, amenity kits have nearly as long been eyed by designers and fashion houses as a way to get their names in the hands of wellheeled passengers, who leave the aircraft with a reminder of their last trip. With the combination of exposure to a group

of travelers with disposable income, it is easy to see why designers, artists and suppliers are working hand-in-hand to make a better bag. And if the airline can claim the bag represents the best in efforts at eco-friendliness and sustainability? All the better. One of the most distinctive designs flying recently came out of Portugal. At this year’s WTCE, SKYSUPPLY was showing visitors the new amenity kit developed for TAP Portugal taking a common item —the sardine tin can — and transforming it into art: the sardines on top of the tin plate are used as a canvas for a number of artists. An explanation leaflet of the design and its artist can be found inside the tin. The box also includes Institut Karite cosmetics. In the course of a year, TAP distributes

A design called Splattersnake is part of the collection from august, WESSCO International’s newest partner

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nine designs, making the tins attractive to collectors. The kit is not only innovative due to its design and local reference, it was also TAP Portugal’s and SKYSUPPLY’s claim to meet demand for eco-friendliness says Wolfgang Bücherl, Managing Director of SKYSUPPLY. “The tin can itself is made of recyclable metal, the toothbrush is produced out of grain and the pen is manufactured from cardboard,” he said. “A truly sustainable approach, and we are proud of being been awarded as Best Ethically Sustainable Amenity Kit by TravelPlus.” The sardine collection bears the name of Bordallo Phinheiro a well known Portuguese ceramic artist and designer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A company in Portugal still exists selling products under his brand name. Also involved in the development of kits was the Earthenware Factory and the EGEEAC/Municipality of Lisbon. A recent contribution is a depiction of Japanese Koinobashi. Koinoboshi is Children’s Day in Japan, and the kit is teamed with an image of a carp. The carp is the symbol of strength, persistence, bravery and success. The design creator, Yuchi Fukuda was born in Osaka where he finished a course in fine arts. He has lived in Lisbon and


ARTISTS AND AMENITIES since 2004 has dedicated himself to creative works. The Heroes of the Air kit brings together aviation and the country’s strong religious heritage. Aviation it is said through the art is a feat accomplished with the sails of the cross of Christ. The artist, Miguel Amaral, was born in Setubal, Portugal. Currently he works in advertising, design, and illustration and is a regular collaborator with the Portuguese Air Force. Los Angeles-based WESSCO International has been drinking deep from the world’s design talent pool in recent years. Five years ago, the company partnered with the legacy of the one of the most famous mid-Century design teams Ray and Charles Eames to create a fanciful first class bag and other products for American Airlines. Last year, the company brought aboard French design guru Philippe Starck to help develop kits for the company. This year, WESSCO took a step into the exotic bringing aboard another husband and wife team who only recently launched a design company after scouting the world on a yearlong journey from Africa to Pategonia, Europe and the steamy rivers of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Charles and Jenna Jackson are the founders of august a Los Angeles company combining elegant design with “local sourcing and manufacturing policies and humanitarian ethos.” “August is the perfect companion for the new generation of jet-set traveler, who values ethical production and artisan craftsmanship,” WESSCO’s Chief Operating Officer, Nick Bregman, in the March 29 announcement of the collaboration.

“WESSCO is pleased to feature august as a lifestyle and design partner for our global travel clients.” WESSCO is now working with the pair on designs for airlines and other travel clients. The designs may involve patterns and materials from the company’s collection or a new bespoke look that evokes the exotic images from anywhere in the world.

On the search in Oman

While some airlines seek out the top names in design, Oman Air this year announced that it was looking close to its home and heritage for a new look in its amenity kit. Also around the time of this year’s WTCE, the airline announced it was putting out the call to the Sultanate’s artists and designers, inviting them to create a new first and business class amenity kit “which expresses the very best of Omani culture, creativity and innovation.” The invitations were issued to Omani craftsmen and women registered in the Sultanate’s Public Authority of Handicrafts, members of the Side Women’s Group and Omani members of the Omani Society of Fine Arts.

Oman Air last updated its amenity kit for First Class in 2014 and the winning artist and designs for the new kits were still not announced at press time. The airline sees the kit as an important part of its service and previous designs have taken home a number of TravelPlus awards for the carrier. “Amenity kits are an important part of that experience,” said Oman Air’s Executive Vice President - Products and Brand Development, Abdul-Aziz Al Raise in the March 23rd press conference announcing the launch of the program. “They allow premium customers to leave their own wash bags and vanity cases in their hold luggage, whilst remaining confident that they will touch down looking and feeling great. “But we also want our amenity kits to help customers to understand more about the culture of the Sultanate of Oman and the boundless talents of its people. That way, Oman Air’s amenity kits will become more than a valued travel souvenir. They will also become an invitation to find out more about Oman, to spend some time in the country and to enjoy its remarkable beauty.”

Oman Air’s First Class amenity kit features Amouage toiletries

A press conference in March announced the search for Omani artists and designers for the airline’s amenity bag

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BRAND COLLABORATIONS

What’s in

Virgin Atlantic passengers flying in Premium Economy Class will receive a Herschel amenity bag including a dental set, earplugs, eyeshade, socks and a pen

a brand? by

MELISSA SILVA

With its prestige and instant recognition, a brand can elevate the amenity kit offering, helping airlines differentiate themselves and encouraging passengers to book their next flight

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rands have long carried an element of prestige, the logo serving as a stamp of approval, certifying its value. While some are indifferent, a significant number of people — and passengers — hold brands in high regard, going as far as to only purchase brand name items. As brands themselves, airlines understand the effect and pull a brand name can create. With a cabin full of passengers to please and entice to make repeat trips, airlines have an opportunity to present a ‘wow’ factor that doesn’t involve upgraded seating or a new IFE offering, but a brand collaboration for its inflight amenity kit offering. “Airlines are seeking to differentiate their luxury offering and looking for new ways to deliver aspirational appeal and a quality customer experience,” says Simon Yaffe, Director Client Relationships for Buzz. “Collaborations between airlines and luxury lifestyle brands offer enhanced passenger experience, by matching the airline’s brand proposition with a brand

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partner that enhances that vision.” Having launched several world-first brand collaborations, Buzz has become an inflight experience specialist known for delivering custom partnerships for airlines. Some recent luxury partnerships include: Delta Air Lines’ partnership with TUMI, Etihad Airways Business Class kits featuring LUXE City Guides, and Cole Haan for American Airlines. “Buzz is renowned for curating innovative programs for the airline industry, focusing on creating products that enhance the inflight experience and strengthen customer loyalty,” adds Yaffe. Harmony, global provider of premium airline amenity kits and comfort items and subsidiary of gategroup is no stranger to working with brands and understands how a branded amenity kit can increase the value of the offering. “We work together with various brand partners to offer our customers tailor-made solutions, as well as an enhanced passenger experience that

will be remembered and cherished long after the journey,” says Effrosyni Petala, Senior Manager Marketing and Product Development, Harmony, gategroup. Recently, Harmony was part of an exciting brand collaboration with the launch of Herschel, a trendy Canadian lifestyle brand, on board Virgin Atlantic Airways. The new Virgin Atlantic Upper Class amenity kits are available in two innovative, functional designs, one for outbound and one for inbound flights. These designs, along with Rituals skincare products, will be changing in annual rotations. The bags include a hand cream, lip balm and face cream from Rituals, based on eastern traditions. A dental kit, earplugs, eyeshade, socks and a Virgin Atlantic pen are also part of the offering. For their Premium Economy Class offering, Virgin Atlantic introduced a Herschel amenity bag including a dental set, earplugs, eyeshade, socks and a pen. Both designs were first offered to passengers at the end of last year.


BRAND COLLABORATIONS When the project for Virgin Atlantic first started, Harmony approached Herschel with the airline’s upper class passenger in mind. “We conducted extensive research — passenger profile, airline growth and goals, trends, etc. — and we concluded that the millennials is the generation of consumers with the buying power, choosing more frequently to fly Upper Class,” says Petala. “Therefore, the choice of Herschel, a hip, and fresh urban lifestyle brand was ideal. Additionally, the brand has never been on board before, making this offer even more exclusive.” Petala says the branding of the bags — that being Herschel — is the key selling point and has the power to reinforce a pleasant passenger experience and post-flight use, a shared goal of both the airline and supplier. “The Herschel branding, featured by the design language, the materials used, the logo and all product details, is the reason why passengers bring the amenity kits with them after the flight,” she adds. A popular belief is that a branded kit will have a greater impact than an unbranded one, and the belief is not unfounded. The very act of branding a kit marks it as special or coveted and even collectible, rendering it all the more desirable. “Taking into consideration that nowadays for most of our brand offerings we work on a full collection, including outbound and inbound styles, two to three rotations per year or different rotations depending on the destinations, the goal is to create a collector’s item,” Petala explains. “For that purpose I believe that a brand increases passengers’ desire to collect all the different styles.” Although there is no denying the impact a brand has on a consumer — passengers included — there is an argument of late that asserts that today’s luxury-seeking passenger is no longer interested in “loud” brand representations — for example, large logos and blatant brand recognition. Instead, the argument asserts that today’s passenger is seeking subtler brand representations, such as a small, inconspicuous logo or, no logo at all, just fine craftsmanship and recognizable quality. Harmony is aware of this possible trend emerging; however, believes that immediate brand recognition — likely via the standard logo representation — remains key. “Indeed, we see the trend in retail as well; brands move towards more subtle representations and this applies to amenity kits,” says Petala. “Undoubtedly, craftsmanship and quality play a very important role, but brand recognition however remains key, at times depending on the region and the airline.”

American Airlines’ amenity kit offering featuring a collaboration with Cole Haan, delivered by Buzz

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CONSUMER TRENDS

Consumer consciousness by RICK LUNDSTROM

This year’s WTCE was the first for the new LSG Group umbrella brand, but the company’s new focus on consumers has been building for years and around the world

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veryone has probably met someone like Natalia, Tek or Shawn. Though they may not have had the same names, their interests and lifestyles are easily identifiable by anyone living in the modern world and in the cosmopolitan cities that serve as hubs for air travel. The three characters are young, attractive and aware of the trends. They’re making consumer decisions based on the lifestyles they choose. Natalia, seeks out natural and local products while Tek, takes his cues from classical style. The other character, Shawn, appears to be a growing breed of consumer who blends purchasing with social consciousness making choices that are “inspirational.” If they do not seem familiar yet, perhaps its time to learn a bit more about Natalia, Shawn and Tek from LSG Group, who through research finds these three composite characters to represent a large and important cross section of world society and important consumers for their airline customers. At this year’s WTCE LSG group was showing visitors to its ways to match

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This is the second year LSG Group has brought (left to right) Natalia, Tek and Shawn to the WTCE

brands and products that would interest the trio. The three characters were the result of LSG Group’s study of gastronomic concepts. “Certainly, they do not just exist as pure lifestyles,” said Sunbul Dubuni, Director Market, Customer and Consumer Insights at LSG Group. “Most people/personalities represent a mix of those lifestyles with a tendency towards one of them.” LSG Group has for years, used “scouts” employed in world’s trend centers. The company has also cooperated with international agencies whose specialty is spotting shifts in taste and preference, and applying the knowledge to the airline industry. Once data and knowledge is collected, it then becomes the task of LSG Group to make valuable use of it. What’s needed, said Dubuni, is the company’s ability to take what it has learned and create relevant products and concepts. Those products can be developed from information learned from passengers across the 300 airline customers in the LSG Group. With people in 200 locations around the world, the

company works from a vast network of potential knowledge. Knowledge like this can be important when an airline chooses something like an amenity kit design, said Dubuni. However, she adds, more factors come into play. “First, you look at the airline’s brand personality,” she adds. “What exactly does the airline want to transport in its brand appearance? Once that is determined, you match it with the respective lifestyle. “It is important to understand that each lifestyle is expressed by certain shapes and/or colors and carries certain values. Therefore, with regard to amenity kits, you look for brands that match this lifestyle.” One of the examples of this approach was with LSG Group’s parent company, Lufthansa German Airlines. Recently, the airline re-launched its amenity kit developed with the German fashion house Bogner and LSG Group’s equipment sourcing and development group SPIRIANT. It is clear which character in the three would be most happy with the product, and that is Tek.


CONSUMER TRENDS “The Lufthansa brand stands primarily for a classic lifestyle,” said Dubuni. “This is equally well represented by Bogner, so this is a perfect match.” Another match that is clear-cut to one of the characters, Natalia, could be found in the company’s recent work with Finnair, an airline that Dubuni said has, like Lufthansa, high expectations of its inflight service, but in a unique geographical area and seeks to maintain its strong ties to the area’s natural environment. Lakes and forest cover the country and their influence can be found in products from the region. Finnair combines their culinary and service-based experience

under the title “A Unique Nordic Experience.” “How do they go about bringing this idea to life,” asks Dubuni. “That is where the experts from the LSG Group come in.” Finnair has its own slogan, and so too, does LSG Group. At this year’s WTCE the Group displayed its new slogan “When Partners Meet Passenger Needs.” It was also the first year, that the company appeared under the LSG Group umbrella brand that takes in LSG Sky Chefs catering and lounge services; Retail inMotion onboard retail, Media inMotion inflight entertainment; Oakfield Farms Solutions meal boxes and SCIS Solutions security.

The three characters were first shown to LSG Group customers at the WTCE in 2015 and the company since has intensified efforts to bring the concept in real travel experiences, many of which took place for potential customers in Hamburg. Though Dubuni said the company’s idea is still a unique approach, many customers are starting to work with their own passenger profiles to design their offerings. “Based on this, we have entered into co-creation workshops with some of our customers in order to derive customerspecific onboard service concepts,” she said.

Fashion flies on Finnair One of the other areas that LSG Group customer Finnair is stressing its Nordic origins is taking place in the Nordic Sky Portal on its A350, where the country’s fashion labels are finding a home. Last month, a new fashion house was added to the shopping selection on Nordic

Minna Parikka shoes, with its signature rabbit ears, joins three other brands now in the Nordic Sky shopping portal on Finnair

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Sky with a selection of shoes by Minna Parikka. The Helsinki-based designer Minna Parikka is renowned for her fun and bold shoe designs, and the iconic bunny-eared shoes and other bold styles are a favorite among celebrities. Currently, Minna Parikka’s

designs are sold in 25 countries globally in some of the best fashion retailers, including Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty London, Luisa Via Roma, Harvey Nichols and Isetan. “We are delighted to add the Minna Parikka shoe shop to our Nordic Sky Wi-Fi portal, and bring these fun and bold designs to our A350 customers,” stated Jarkko Konttinen, Vice President, Inflight Experience for Finnair, in yesterday’s announcement. The Minna Parikka shop is directly accessible, without any additional fees, on any handheld device or laptop connected to the Nordic Sky Wi-Fi portal, which is available on all Finnair A350 aircraft. All passengers on A350 flights can use the Nordic Sky Wi-Fi portal with their own devices free of charge in both classes. Through the portal, customers have access to finnair.com, news services and Finnair services such as destination information, customer care and pre-order shopping, as well as third party shopping services. Customers can order taxis via the Cabforce Taxi Service to the destination airport and book destination services such as trips, dinner cruises and concert tickets with Viator Destination Services. The Minna Parikka shop will be available inside the Nordic Sky Wi-Fi portal in June, and it is the third Finnish fashion brand available through the portal, alongside Makia and the Ivana Helsinki Collection. Finnair currently operates five A350s on its routes between Helsinki and Asian destinations.


THE COMMEMORATIVE KIT

Gifting, elevated While it serves many purposes, the amenity kit can be used as a vessel through which an airline can mark a special occasion and at times, step aside for a different type of offering altogether

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hile a traditional amenity kit offering tends to follow the same general concept — a bag or case with a special selection of esteemed products inside — some airlines make their kit a canvas for marking a specific milestone or celebration, while others take the gifting approach quite literally. Case in point: in advance of United Airlines’ 90th anniversary this past April, the Chicago-based carrier introduced on international flights an updated version of its premium cabin amenity kits that were first unveiled last August. The latest versions of the Business Class and First Class kits include new postcard wraps. Each wrap features two collectible postcard images from United’s photo archives, including one depicting flight attendants in uniform posing along one wing of a vintage United aircraft. In total, United has used six different photos from its archives to adorn its kits. The 90th anniversary kits will continue to feature a selection of products from English skincare company Cowshed Spa, much like they did last year. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines celebrates its anniversary with a slightly different approach, honing in on the gift aspect of the amenity offering — literally. For years, the airline has been presenting exclusive Delftware miniature houses as gifts to

passengers travelling in World Business Class on intercontinental flights. Over the years, the miniatures have become coveted collector’s items worldwide. Since the 1950s, KLM has presented its Delftware miniatures on board. The houses are replicas of exceptional buildings in the Netherlands and the number of houses in the collection have corresponded with KLM’s age since 1994. A new house has been added to the collection on October 7 each year thereafter. Last fall, in celebration of its 96th anniversary, KLM introduced its latest Delftware miniature house — the Hamel House in Gorinchem. The Hamel House was reconstructed in famed Dutch seafarer Hendrick Hamel’s, birthplace (Gorinchem) and brings the historic tale of Gorinchem’s naval hero to life visually. In 1653, Hamel’s ship became wrecked off the coast of the Korean island of Jeju. The survivors were not allowed to leave the country due to the Korean king’s fear that information about Korea would be revealed to the rest of the world. Only after 13 years did Hamel succeed in escaping, along with seven others. Luckily, Hamel kept a detailed journal of his time in Korea, which served as the only source of information about Korea at that time in Europe. “For me, the Hamel House symbolizes the special relationship shared between

the Netherlands and South Korea, said Pieter Elbers, President and CEO of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in a release regarding the anniversary offering. “Personally, while working for KLM in Japan and South Korea, I developed close ties with this extraordinary country. I’m therefore very pleased with our choice for house number 96.” The 96th house was festively unveiled and presented by Elbers to Piet IJssels, Chairman of the Hamel Foundation and South Korean Ambassador Jong-hyun Choe in Gorinchem last October. Similar to the Delftware miniatures and also since the 1950s, KLM presents every World Business Class passenger with a Delft Blue miniature traditional Dutch house, filled with Dutch gin, also known as genever. Each miniature depicts a real Dutch house. Every year on October 7, KLM celebrates the anniversary of airline’s founding in 1919 by presenting a new house. For passengers looking to keep track of their miniatures KLM developed the KLM Delft Blue houses app. After downloading, passengers can swipe through the entire collection, wander through the history of each house and view photos and videos of many of the real houses. Passengers can also find the location of each house via ‘Maps’.

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PAX PICKS

Amenities à la carte From headsets to fragrances, we’ve rounded up a wish list of amenities handpicked for a range of passengers, from the tech-savvy to the beautyfocused and others in-between

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1. Launched in April at the WTCE in Hamburg, the new Linstol ST-80 headset has been designed to become the most durable, low-cost headset that offers refurbishing capabilities. Available in a wide range of specifications, colors and textures, the headset offers enhanced wearability and comfort on long-haul flights in addition to exceptional sound quality. 2. As small and compact as a credit card, the Slim Power Bank from Go Travel is powerful enough to fully charge a smartphone in just 1.5 hours. Thanks to its ultra-slim line design, it conveniently slips into any wallet or shirt pocket. 3. Made with memory foam, the Cool Pillow from Travel Blue features cool pads that are integrated into the pillow cover to produce a natural, lasting cool sensation and prevent overheating, helping travelers feel comfortable throughout their sleep. 4. Germany’s VW Beetle car is celebrating its comeback as a key ring by Troika. The Light Beetle 1964 key ring features tiny LED lights to illuminate every keyhole — or luggage lock.

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5. Inspired by the iconic, black Burberry trench coat, the Mr. Burberry fragrance features a woody scent encased in a masculine bottle. The weighted cap references the trench coat’s horn-look buttons, while a hand-tied knot in English-woven gabardine sits around the bottle’s neck.

6. A vibrant floral fragrance inspired by the refreshing energy of springtime, Victoria’s Secret xo, Victoria is a free-spirited twist on the original Victoria fragrance. Sparkling citrus notes give it a sunny feel, while hints of English ivy add woody warmth.


PAX PICKS

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7. Featuring cool freshness and warm spices, Polo Blue by Ralph Lauren is a fragrance inspired by the blue sky, open waters, and an invigorating blast of fresh air. 8. Perfume Holding’s Fragrance iPhone Case is an innovative iPhone case that protects your phone while holding your fragrance. Ensuring the juice won’t come into contact with any part of the phone, the case comes pre-filled with 25ml of fragrance and an additional 25ml refill. 9. Developed with today’s traveler in mind, Rituals Sakura luxury bag contains four of the most demanded products from Rituals’ relaunched Sakura range.

10. b4® single-use, alcohol free gel hand sanitizer packs can be added to an amenity kit or packaged in cutlery kits for use before a meal. Offered in crisp white packaging or customized to suit an airline’s branding needs, b4® hand sanitizer packs are specially formulated to kill germs, leaving hands refreshingly soft and moisturized. 11. In an attempt to develop a product that would safely kill germs while gently moisturizing the skin, New Zealand-based Caire has introduced its Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer. Made by combining Caire’s inflight moisturizer with a very low antibacterial content, the Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer is simple, effective and enjoyable to use thanks to the addition of ‘Soul’ — Caire’s exclusive new fragrance.

www.pax-intl.com  |  PAX INTERNATIONAL  |  31


LABOR MARKET FORECAST: CHINA

The manufacturing sector in the Shanghai/ Ningbo area offers a wide variety of specialties

POWERHOUSE for production by

RICK LUNDSTROM

While other countries in the region may be emerging as possible manufacturing sources, amenity kit producers and industry watchers say China still ticks all the boxes and has earned their loyalty

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ne year ago, China’s State Council, announced a costly program of mandates and subsidies to persuade manufacturers in the country to improve and upgrade factories, making the country’s producers more innovative and green within the next 10 years. The program was called “Made in China 2025.” It may take all that time to restore the robustness that has been a hallmark of the country’s image and has moved the giant market into what has been called the largest manufacturer in the world, accounting for nearly a quarter of the global value of the sector. The initiative comes at a time of reports that factories are squeezed and customers are starting to feel the effects of wage inflation. But even amid the concern, there is a certainty that the country will continue to be the primary source for many products, among them the airline amenity kits that are featured throughout this digital issue of PAX International. The reasons are clear, say customers of the factories and suppliers to the airlines. While China may be undergoing industrial and economic ups and downs that are part of the history of every country, it remains a nation with a productive and skilled

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workforce, extensive infrastructure and a supply chain that no other competitive nation can match. One of the companies that has been watching the China manufacturing market for more than 40 years is Houston-based ITI Manufacturing. The company has been a source for firms in the United States that are seeking to establish manufacturing operations in China. On a year-to-year basis, ITI has approximately 100 active customers for which it finds suitable factories and goes one step further — to guarantee the quality of everything its client base of factories produces. Among its customers are manufacturers of consumer goods, commercial products, and industrial component parts. The company’s customers make toys, oil field equipment, food safety products, cast metal products, and a wide variety of other durable goods. They also source factories for cut and sew fabrics and leather. Joshua Robinson, President and CEO at ITI tells PAX International that regions in China specialize in certain products. In the far south, Shenzen and Guangzhou tend to focus on electronics, while the far north tends to specialize in heavy industry and wood products. In Ningbo, near Shanghai

there tends to be “a little bit of everything.” What Robinson said the company has also seen in recent years has been a number of important changes, all of which affects the price of goods moving out of the country. “In the past five to 10 years we have seen a lot of fluctuation in pricing, mostly in the upward direction due to things like the currency exchange rate, wage inflation and even in some cases material prices,” said Robinson. “But a lot of that has settled down in the past 12 to 24 months because of China’s slowdown.” In the past five years, Robinson said there have been a number of wage reforms taking place in the country including protections for workers, increases in minimum wages, and increased payments for work on weekends and holidays. The country’s average yearly wages in manufacturing has increased from CNY17, 966 (US$2,736) in 2006 to CNY55,324 (US$8,425) last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Signs were positive elsewhere. As early as the end of May this year, the country’s manufacturing sector expanded for the third straight month, but not as high as many would like.


LABOR MARKET FORECAST: CHINA The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), an important barometer for gauging the health of the sector, was unchanged at 50.1. A PMI register above 50 is an indication of growth in the manufacturing sector while anything below that number signals a contraction in the industry. Wolfgang Bücherl, Managing Director and Partner at SKYSUPPLY in Germany has been working with manufacturers in China for nearly 25 years since SKYSUPPLY was established. On a regular basis his business partner, Andreas Lersch, makes trips to China to oversee production and discuss opportunities with the company’s nominated manufacturing partners. The company can reflect on a long and constructive association with the country and look ahead to a continuation of this valued collaboration. “I think for now China is still the place to be,” says Bücherl. “Compared to other countries it is still a market where you can source competitively and effectively as is demanded by the airline buyers.” For Bücherl and SKYSUPPLY, the associations with the region began in Hong Kong when entering China was still a pioneering trend. Soon after, the Mainland’s manufacturing industries started hitting their stride and SKYSUPPLY saw the long-term opportunity. It has been a journey of patience, building longstanding relationships that require time and considerable personal contact. Now, in his third decade with the company, he watches, as the China he first sought out for factories has emerged as an economic powerhouse with a growing middle class keen for automobiles, electronics and the trappings of the modern world and a

developing capacity to produce efficiently and ethically. Once established in the country, companies like SKYSUPPLY are rewarded with a trusted source for kit components and logistics and supply chain management advantages that cannot be easily replicated elsewhere, said Bücherl. Countries like India and Vietnam are emerging as possible sources for manufacturing in the future, says Bücherl, but the capacity to handle large volume orders and the logistics are imperative to fulfilling on time demands are still a challenge for many of the emerging manufacturers there. The strategy by SKYSUPPLY is a sound one, says Robinson. “In general, a good strategy is to stick with what works because it is very hard to begin with to get up and running, get a factory up to speed and get it right,” he said. “Jumping factory to factory is nothing more than a recipe of starting over every single time you do it.” Tom Mockler, President and CEO of InflightDirect has been traveling to China for more than 35 years with his current company and others. When he formed InflightDirect more than six years ago, he said manufacturers that he knew approached him with the opportunity to form the company as a factory-direct supplier. While he says that InflightDirect will occasionally partner with manufacturers in India or Vietnam “China is still the number one manufacturing powerhouse.” The company’s associations are so long and trusted. Mockler formed InflightDirect with an “open book” policy of factory direct sales. InflightDirect also works closely with Mills Textiles, which maintains a similar

The Port of Shanghai’s busy deep-water harbor on Yangshan Island is an example of the country’s extensive infrastructure and capabilities

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approach. With this policy, the companies facilitate sales with the factories in China while also handling logistics and warehousing. Among the companies wide base of product on offer are IFE headsets, amenity kits, airsickness bags, children’s items, blankets, pillows and pillow covers. “We let them do what they do best, and that is manufacturing,” said Mockler. Once an order is completed, customers have the option of being invoiced by InflightDirect or the factory.

Innovations for the future

Among the initiatives in the Made In China 2025 program is an emphasis on making the country’s manufacturing plants more innovative. A recent story in The Economist pointed out that China is the world’s largest market for industrial automation and robots. The automated machines are working side by side with factory workers on complex tasks like computer and mobile phone assemblies. An official at Foxconn, the company that manufactures many of Apple Computers’ products predicted that within five years, 30% of the company’s labor force doing the most tedious work with be replaced by robots, freeing up the workers for other tasks. ITI’s Robinson also sees the seeds of change taking place. While most of ITI’s customers develop their own products and finalize designs before turning them over to factories in China for production, he says the country in general is trying to move out of “low-end manufacturing and build their consumer economy and come up with a lot of innovation on their own. “They’re nowhere near the level of the U.S., but they are attempting to move in that direction.”


SPIRIANT adores amenity kits SPIRIANT expands its expertise and global presence in Amenity Kits Along with a continuous worldwide growth, we bring together and develop unique expertise to be your trusted partner. This is why we have created a new team dedicated to your passengers’ needs in the exclusive field of amenity kits and onboard comfort. Whether it is the high-end branded kits for premium passengers or smart personalized kits for buy-onboard concepts - SPIRIANT adores amenity kits and will help you to make the right choice for your passengers. To get an insight on the latest trends and designs contact us at info@spiriant.com or visit www.spiriant.com for more information.


WHEN partners MEET passenger needs

It’s all about connecting the right people, products and possibilities for a unique travel experience: join us to discover how we can work together to create engaging new solutions for your passengers. lsg-group.com

PAX International Amenities Special Issue 2016  
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