Three days, two shows, one goal: make flying a better experience. Welcome to the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services (WTCE) and Aircraft Interiors Expo shows.
The WTCE & AIX mix
WTCE and AIX may focus on different aspects of in-flight comfort, but it’s still in-flight comfort that matters to both at the end of the day.
AIX is all about the practical elements of onboard comfort: the fixtures and fittings. WTCE, on the other hand, is about the creature comforts passenger enjoy while sitting in those AIX fittings.
AIX and WTCE’s exhibitors are innovating beyond the expected. It seems travelling by plane is about to become more tasty, more entertaining and a lot more comfortable.
More tasty travel
WTCE was full of innovative, inspired and tasty concepts on how to make in-flight meals a little more exciting than a microwavable dinner. With companies unveiling everything from freshly baked muffins and healthy snacks to caviar.
Monty’s Bakehouse went further than most, with their enticing onsite bakery. The aim was to show just offering sandwiches or something in a container is no longer the only option. In-flight food can be as delicious and tempting as food anywhere else.
With a wellness and fitness studio coming to Heathrow this year, it appears flying is becoming much more health conscious. This was apparent at WTCE, with a number of brands exhibiting healthier inflight snack options.
Now you can get fruit juices and fruit bites like Fly Fit’s nutritionally balanced snacks. Their stand was as clean and crisp as their snacks. You also had a lot of brands known more for their high street presence moving into this market with interesting snack innovations.
— En Route INTL (@EnRouteINTL) April 10, 2018
Another interesting new launch was Angel Revive who kept things pure and simple, like their water. No crazy showmanship just a meet and greet with their newest partner, Steven Gerrard. This approach was enough to create a considerable amount of interest in their product.
— WTCE (@wtce_expo) April 12, 2018
More entertaining travel
With more people flying more often to more exotic places comes an increasing need to keep them entertained on these extended journeys. WTCE has recognised this for a long time and leads the way in in-flight entertainment innovation. But how will airlines of the future keep passengers entertained once fed?
A lot of companies exhibiting think the way forward is virtual reality. Across the show there were some extremely high-tech VR entertainment systems on display. The belief is that their immersive nature will help people escape the flight itself to wherever they are happier. It’s creative, innovative and exciting thinking.
— Neutral Digital (@neutraldigital) April 24, 2018
In this technology furore was also the understanding it’s not all about you, but about the customers. So companies were displaying new technology designed to help customers feel at home with their own tech. Another fascinating development was the wireless charging armrest. It’s a simple idea that offers absolute convenience, which is such a limited space is what passengers need.
Wireless charging is actually coming to an aircraft cabin near you. Here’s a solution from @AstronicsCorp that is more forgiving on phone placement of the charger. #AIX18 #PaxEx pic.twitter.com/yQ9W4XzadA
— JTW Pilot Channel ✈️ (@jtwpilot) April 18, 2018
Across the aisle from many of these technical innovations was the other aspect of customer satisfaction, goodies. From the sheer number of different items on show, it appears that customers are in for some treats over the next years.
A close up of our ‘amenities’ wall at #WTCE2018. Pop to stand 1A51 in hall A1 to see the amazing brands we work with and the bags that we’ve created @wtce_expo #amenities #airline pic.twitter.com/jDCsM1Xnp6
— Matrix (@this_is_matrix) April 10, 2018
Companies here seem to believe that the days of branded toothbrushes and blindfolds are gone. Or at least changing. Luxury seems to be the order of the day, with many companies creating quite beautiful items and designs that wouldn’t look out of place on the high street.
— WTCE (@wtce_expo) April 11, 2018
These items are intended to target the higher end of the travel industry, not your everyday economy flight. But it won’t be long before their variants filter down.
More comfortable travel
Alternately, AIX 2018 looks at how passengers fly. Exhibitors are solutions that will make airline travel more comfortable, more communal and more relaxing.
How airlines are changing our onboard experience https://t.co/Po4yDY916h
— Aaron Heslehurst (@bbcaaron) April 11, 2018
For those travelling in business or first class things are about to get very interesting. Many of the concepts on show were quite luxurious. Offering space, privacy and real comfort.
NEW: Step inside the @Airbus Day & Night cabin option, for airlines to use in their First Class.
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) April 11, 2018
Some of the more impressive concepts included Airbus’s cargo hold sleeping compartments and fully enclosed bedrooms.
? On this AvTalk, @petchmo & @Travel_Buddha explain the Easa alert regarding Syria. And @AirlineFlyer & @WandrMe report on what’s next for #PaxEx at the Aircraft Interiors Expo #AIX18, like this cargo hold sleeping area concept from Airbus & Zodiac.https://t.co/eFIozEqvvc pic.twitter.com/zzgJlYVRg6
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) April 13, 2018
Another interesting variation on this was the understanding that not all passengers are flying solo. More than ever families are travelling the world together and a number of concepts were embracing this more communal experience.
Finally, the #CCA18 for Cabin Concepts goes to @Priestmangoode for the design of the @qatarairways #Qsuite! Presented by @aix_expo director Polly Magraw! Congratulations to ALL our winners & finalists tonight! You all are the future of #PaxEx! pic.twitter.com/8RZrLmJInj
— Hamburg Aviation (@HamburgAviation) April 10, 2018
Qatar Airways’s Qsuite family seating concept, in particular, gained a lot of interest. The idea gave families wonderfully simply, versatile and comfortable space to spend their time together. The concept allows the space to adapt to the needs of the passenger. With the ability to face in different directions and create different sleeping configurations. The design is fantastically practical and intuitive.
At the other end of the spectrum economy flights might be about to become a lot more economic, for the airlines at least. One particular idea was gaining a lot of interest, not all of it welcome.
The Skyrider is an upright (almost standing) ‘seat’. Conceptually, it’s an ingenious idea for short haul flights that maximises space to its absolute limit.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) April 23, 2018
Some attendees and commentators were a little less than convinced. With questions being asked about how the seat would impact interiors, safety and experience. For the company behind it, however, it was a winner no matter what; as whatever the opinion the Skyrider had a lot of people talking.
So how should you get noticed at WTCE & AIX 2019? The best way in today’s market is a stand that gets you noticed, both at the event and afterwards when people in the industry share and discuss it on social media like Pinterest and Instagram.
Trends are for delivering a hands-on experience and delivering a memorable brand experience. Creativity is the key to success at this event. How can you turn your products or services into a crowd-pleasing activation? If you want some ideas or a quote for your next stand, give us a call.
How about 2019?
If you are planning on taking your stand to WTCE & AIX 2019,
DMN already have our teams building show-stopping stands on-site each year
so if you want to benefit from our event experience and creativity
why not book a free consultation session? Want to bring some creativity ‘onboard’ then give us a call.
Contact Matt Briggs on +44 (0) 1484 451061 or click here to drop him an email