Could Brands Turn In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity Into Financial Security For Airlines?

We want more onboard.  If we can’t have more room, we’ll take more entertainment.  You can read more about the potential growth of In-Flight Connectivity and In-Flight Entertainment, highly prized features of the cabin experience, in my special article for Sparksheet this week.

The question for airlines, just like anything else, is how to make these services pay.

Ryanair, for example, has recently confirmed it would not offer connectivity onboard their new 737 MAX 200s because the airline hasn’t found a “viable cost-effective Wi-Fi solution.”

What if it didn’t have to be cost-effective, though? What if, instead, connectivity and entertainment onboard were a source of revenue?

Some believe this is a viable alternative, and as we see new partnerships develop in this sector it is possible we could begin to see some creative collaboration happening. We shouldn’t think commercials. Commercials are an outdated concept, a carryover from the television experience, which, you could argue, doesn’t have much relevance to our consumer interactions on the ground today–much less in the air.

As airlines consider moving forward with the addition of new IFE/IFC options, and look to content and cost-sharing, branded content, product placement, and sponsorship packages may prove far more useful.

It’s time to think differently about these products. Instead of viewing IFE and IFC as an add-on service, we should consider them in the context of revenue potential. For airlines to accept that possibility, the entertainment and connectivity suppliers will need to come up with revenue solutions as part of their marketing argument to the airline.  There are no doubt talented agencies ready to lend a hand to interested suppliers and put together winning solutions.

And lest anyone say that IFE and IFC are sanctum sanctorum, that passengers would not sit still for IFE/IFC which was creatively brand sponsored, let’s establish three key facts:

1) There were no brands on cable either, in the beginning.  Now we have ads and we still pay for the service.

2) Consumers consume brands–that’s what we do–we just want to be approached in more subtle and beneficial ways.

3) Free is free. Passengers get limitless entertainment and free connectivity, without having to pay for it, they’ll welcome whatever sponsor made that miracle possible.

Of course, I’m still waiting for branded cabins to become a norm..but that’s a conversation for another day.

What do you say, flyers?  How would opening up the skies to more branding opportunities affect your perception of the in-flight experience?  Share your comments below.

Featured Image: Royal Jordanian 787 Economy Class, Royal Jordanian

Marisa Garcia

After working for sixteen years in aviation, specializing in aircraft interiors design and aviation safety equipment, and getting hands-on with aircraft cabins in hangars around the world, Marisa Garcia turned her expertise into industry insight. She has been reporting on aviation matters since 2014. Every day, she's putting words to work.

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