ELeather exec delves into the latest trends driving global aviation

Nico Den Ouden, global Sales and Marketing Director at ELeather, touches upon key developments, which includes cabin refurbishments, the value of luxury amenity kits, and environmental impact, among others
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Differentiation is not achieved by simply fitting bigger screens and increasing the use of technology, but by breaking norms to deliver the best possible flying experience, says Ouden.
Plainview Media Matthew Lumb
Differentiation is not achieved by simply fitting bigger screens and increasing the use of technology, but by breaking norms to deliver the best possible flying experience, says Ouden.

The aviation industry has advanced in leaps and bounds since the first commercial flight took place over a century ago. From the ‘groovy’ interior designs of the 70s to the explosion of in-flight entertainment in the 90s, airlines are constantly looking for the next best thing when it comes to delivering the ultimate customer experience.

Whether it’s Formula 1 inspired aircraft interiors or using the Internet of Things (IoT) to bring a connected cabin to life, the future of the aviation industry is advancing faster than we know it.

To gain that competitive advantage, aviation businesses must ensure they’re constantly evolving and staying on top of the latest trends. At the same time, however, they must also find the perfect balance between managing costs and maximising the flying experience for customers. Here are five trends that are currently flying high in the aviation world:

Luxury amenity kits
Amenity kits are nothing new when it comes to the premium travel experience. Increasingly, however, airlines are teaming up with luxury brands to deliver designer kits. Whether it's Virgin Atlantic partnering with Hershel or Etihad working with French fashion designer Christian Lacroix, airlines are going beyond the physical cabin space to improve in-flight experiences.

Cabin refurbishments
Airlines are increasingly looking to give their existing seats a new lease of life through refurbishment using innovative materials. By reupholstering they’re able to upgrade customer experiences at a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire seat. Cabin refurbishments can not only extend the life of a plane but improve the flyer experiences too.

The rise of the eco-conscious traveller
TV documentaries such as ‘Our Planet’ are bringing important issues that our environment is facing into the mainstream. As a result, the way that travellers view climate change is changing. With a renewed perception of our environment, it is no surprise that the factors that contribute to consumer purchase decisions are evolving across every industry, including aviation.

Added to that, the market for eco-retreats and ‘responsible travel’ is booming. For ‘responsible travellers’, however, a cabin fitted with unsustainable materials is an unwelcome sight. For airlines adopting a more environmentally conscious approach to the materials they use, there is an opportunity to not just help the planet, but also to improve revenues too.

Increased seating
In the ongoing battle to keep airfares low while improving profitability, budget airlines continue to look for new ways to achieve cost efficiencies. Increasing the number of passengers on each flight is an obvious option.

The impact of this approach, of course, is less cabin space for passengers. To counter this, the quality of the space they have has to increase, with the quality of the seating and cladding set to become more important than ever.

Carbon goals
Should we feel guilty over flying? According to the Swedes, this question, coined ‘Flygskam’ is being asked more and more. Findings from a recent survey by the World Wildlife Fund showed that one in five Swedes opted to travel by rail as opposed to flying.

The WWF concluded that a desire to reducing climate played a key role in their decision-making process. It is estimated that the airline industry produces between 2-3% of all manmade CO2 emissions. In a recent report by the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) 20 of the world’s largest airlines were criticised for failing to align with the Paris Agreement’s 2C trajectory by setting long-term carbon goals. A greater focus on sustainability is set to make an impact in 2019 and beyond.

Tracking trends
Growing environmental concerns, changes to cabin spaces and customer services such as luxury amenity kits are just some of the key trends set to disrupt the aviation industry. Rising customer expectations sit at the core of all of these and will have a significant impact on what the future of aviation looks. To meet these expectations, we must focus on comfort, practicality and efficiency – while also delivering differentiation through experience.

Differentiation is not achieved by simply fitting bigger screens and increasing the use of technology, but by breaking norms to deliver the best possible flying experience. From new configurations to in-seat experiences – added to the pre, during and post-flight perks – it’s an exciting time to be getting ready to take off.

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