The digital trends of today’s travellers will make BYOD entertainment a “major game changer” says Inflight Connectivity and Entertainment supplier, SITA OnAir.
We’ve been closely watching the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in-flight entertainment (IFE) trend as new services and solutions arise which let airlines offer entertainment content on flights where there previously was none, or as supplementary entertainment for overhead screens, even for embedded seat back screens for an “at-home” multi-screening experience.
The variety of solutions rising in this sector range from simple e-distribution of publications to the supply of a large catalogue of television and film programming, even live television services.
The draw for all of this is the rise of digital highly mobile travellers—individuals who travel with at least one personal electronic device, sometimes more.
These individuals, SITA OnAir says, often prefer to use their own devices for entertainment and to stay in touch with the ground where in-flight Wi-Fi is available.
These same passengers want to personalise their inflight experience and using devices with which they are already familiar helps. SITA’s annual Passenger IT Trends survey revealed that passengers are more likely to connect with services onboard through their own devices.
- 10% of passengers who took part in the survey “multiscreen,” switching between their own devices and seat-back screens during their flights.
- 92% of the passengers polled had positive things to say about their experience with content in-flight.
- 65% of passengers said they would prefer to access entertainment via their own devices in future.
Did you know? Airlines have been playing inflight movies for more than 90 years, with the first inflight movie shown on Aeromarine Airways in 1921.
It’s An iWorld After All
The launch of the iPhone in 2007 heralded the start of the mobile computing age and it’s being growing strong since.
The World Economic Forum recently released Pew Research Centre statistics showing that more than 1.4 billion smartphones were purchased in 2015 alone, and that the figure is expected to rise again this year.
- The nation with the largest smartphone adoption rate is South Korea, where 88% of people own a smartphone.
- Australia is second with 77%
- Israel is third with 74%
- The US comes in fourth with 72%
- Spain comes in fifth with 71%
By major world regions, the U.S. comes in first with 72%, Europe second with 60% and the Middle East third with 57% of people owning a smartphone.
And the rate of growth of smartphone use is also skyrocketing, closing the gap between countries with large smartphone use and those where fewer citizens presently own smartphones.
For example, use of smartphones in Turkey has increased by 42 percentage points since 2013, in Malaysia by 34 percentage points, and in Chile by 26 percentage points.
What’s more, Pew finds a strong correlation between country wealth and smartphone adoption, which one could reasonably consider implies a greater share of disposable income and therefore a larger travel budget.
SITA found that 86% of passengers said they take at least one digital device onboard, a rise of more than a third over the last 12 months.
Rise of Hyperconnected Travellers
This growth in adoption of mobile technology has freed up consumers to help themselves to a number of services which previously would have been provided by people directly and has given birth to disruptive travel services, like Uber and AirBnB.
Today, SITA finds that all passengers prefer technology to book and manage their trips rather than dealing with people. The aviation technology company has also identified a sub-set of travellers which it calls ‘Hyperconnected Travellers’ that currently account for 14% of all travellers. These individuals travel with multiple gadgets at once and rely heavily on them for throughout the journey—but they are not alone. Even the other traveller types: Pampered, Careful Planner, and Adventurer are happier with mobile services.
If you’re curious about what kind of traveller you might be SITA has a Quiz for that.
Connect or Disconnect
These digital habits are pushing airlines to speed up their inflight connectivity (Wi-Fi) projects and to offer BYOD entertainment options.
- 46% of all passengers use mobile apps onboard.
OnAir reports that many airlines are already budgeting connectivity and BYOD platforms into their passenger experience enhancement plans.
- 75% of airlines are now planning to invest in offering inflight Wi-Fi
- 70% of airlines are investing in wireless services to enable their crew to manage onboard services.
The digital revolution is also changing the way airlines care for their customers, with crew equipped with tablets and smartphones who are better able to identify high-revenue flyers, manage onboard services inventories, and receive updates from the ground on service disruptions which might affect passenger satisfaction on arrival.
SITAOnAir’s CrewTab effectively eliminates the need for paper used to manage many onboard services, delivering ease of use, reference, and tracking benefits which can only be gained through digital platforms. But BYOD solutions also let airlines offer more services directly to passengers onboard, including retail and food services.
Seat-Back and Relax
“The shift to BYOD is a major game changer for the airline industry,” SITA OnAir writes in a recent report. “Seat-back screens add both weight and cost to an aircraft fit. Indeed, some national carriers have even begun to remove seat-back screens from some of their fleets.
“BYOD also improves the potential for better inflight connectivity and a more tailored passenger experience. Passengers can interact directly with an airline social media team and information can be passed to cabin crew, who can then respond accordingly—whether that be offering a service or solving a problem.
“This joined-up thinking also carries through to building brand loyalty through tailored offers made to passengers based on their online behaviour. Passenger safety can also be improved with reports of potential turbulence alerts being sent straight through to personal devices.”
Some in the industry scoff at claims that seat-back screens may one day become irrelevant. If anything, BYOD seems to be encouraging airlines to bring entertainment to aircraft where there was previously none: on single-aisle regional fleets, on low-cost carriers.
In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity Market Will Be Worth $9.82 Billion by 2024, Report
As in-flight entertainment manufacturers get clever about protecting their hard-earned seat back space, they are developing improved systems which are supplemented and enhanced by mobile digital devices.
The general trend is towards offering passengers more entertainment—and that includes BYOD options where other entertainment might be impractical or too costly.
We Get You, You Get Us
As SITA OnAir points out, understanding what “will be relevant to a specific passenger at a specific time, will ultimately deliver a more relaxing and enjoyable experience during the flight and build brand loyalty.”
BYOD services, like connectivity, streaming entertainment, and Wi-Fi enabled on-line retail are key enablers to an improved passenger experience. We can only expect passenger device adoption to rise and the relevance and popularity of all mobile services—including for onboard entertainment—to rise along with them.