GUEST COLUMN available onboard. The migration from a complimentary service to buy on board has resulted in products, which used to be provided “free” to passengers but at a significant cost to the airline, now helping airlines break-even or in some cases, make a profit. What hasn’t changed for the airline is the intense pressure to effectively manage this budget in an increasingly competitive travel market. While airport and handling, maintenance, fuel and crew costs are significantly bigger chunks of an airline budget; these are to a large extent costs that an airline cannot control. A greater focus for airline management is therefore the relatively smaller areas of the budget where they have a higher level of control or “discretion” e.g. the service they offer on board. As a result, this budget can fluctuate significantly dependent on what is happening in other parts of the budget – the cost of fuel for instance. A brand may succeed in getting onboard but only for a limited duration. Smaller brands need a clever strategy to deal with the potential peaks and troughs
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in orders. Larger organizations with deep marketing pockets and an established supply chain may appear to have an advantage, but their challenge is the ability to respond quickly to the rapidly changing environment. These are all important issues to bear in mind when considering your manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. The same is true of your market price point. Has your product already achieved listings in major retail outlets and has a recognised cost in the eyes of the consumer? If so, travel operators will want to make sure that it is available onboard at a similar, if not more competitive, offering to entice passengers to buy. This can be a significant. The buy on board market has seen significant growth and success resulting in a queue of new brands looking to move into the sector. Today, we are even seeing larger established retail brands make the move onboard. Marks & Spencer’s recent partnership with British Airways is a great example and is indicative of a trend we would expect to see more of in the future. For smaller brands, innovation and speed
to market is key. Seasonality onboard the aircraft is now commonplace so it’s important to have a continuous pipeline of innovative products to ensure your successful partnership with an airline can be sustained. Ultimately for brands to succeed, they need to stand out. Trade events like the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE), which takes place in Hamburg every April, offer companies the opportunity to get in front of key air and rail decision makers. Getting recognised is often the biggest challenge and succeeding here can be the first step to selling your brand at 35,000 feet. Lance Hayward will moderate a panel of onboard hospitality suppliers at this year’s Taste of Travel during the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo in Hamburg, 4-6th April 2017. The session, titled ‘Getting a new product onboard’ is set to be an open debate with the audience discussing brand, communication, procurement, trend monitoring, innovation and lots more.