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Home » Airline PaxEx » In-Flight Meals » Elevating Passenger Wellbeing, Sustainability, and Memorable Experiences: A Recap of the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) 2023

Elevating Passenger Wellbeing, Sustainability, and Memorable Experiences: A Recap of the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) 2023

Let’s delve into the top passenger experience trends at this year’s World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) 2023. The leading global event for travel catering, onboard services, and passenger comfort industries was recently held at the Hamburg Messe.

Attendees at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE)
Attendees at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE)

With a focus on health and wellness, sustainability, and unforgettable travel experiences, this three-day event drew over 3,500 industry professionals and visitors from 88 countries. Leading airline and rail companies converged to explore the latest trends and innovations in travel catering, onboard services and passenger comfort.

Over 250 exhibitors from across the inflight catering, travel catering, inflight amenities, onboard retail and onboard services industry hosted buyers from 150 leading global, regional and low-cost airlines such as Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet, as well as 35 rail operators and rail catering companies and buyers from over 50 airline catering companies, including dnata, Cuisine Solutions, SATS Catering, Foodfork Australia, LSG and specialist kosher caterer, Hermolis.

Promoting Passenger Health & Wellness

WTCE 2023 introduced the Wellbeing Walk-Through, a unique feature guiding buyers to exhibitors offering products onboard services that enhance passengers’ health and wellness during their journey. From halal and eco-friendly food packaging to alternatives to non-alcoholic beverages and luxury amenities, more than 30 exhibitors showcased innovative options to cater to diverse needs and promote well-being.

Participating exhibitors in the Wellbeing Walk-Through included Skinny Genie Gluten Free, which offers halal, free-from and plant-based meal solutions, and was exhibiting at WTCE for the first time this year.

The Humble Co also joined the Wellbeing Walk-Through, showcasing its revolutionary high-quality beauty and oral care products made with eco-friendly materials.

Exhibitor So Jennie piqued visitors’ interest with its non-alcoholic sparkling drinks suited to those looking for an alternative to French sparkling wine. Buzz Products had a wide selection of luxury brands on its stand, including items from its latest collaboration with Giorgio Armani. PLAYin CHOC introduced allergen-free chocolates created specifically for children, all packaged in plastic-free materials. 

Sustainable Travel Catering & Better Onboard Services

Sustainability was at the forefront of this year’s WTCE, with multiple sessions throughout the show examining sustainability in detail, and sparked numerous discussions, with the topic remaining high on the agendas of airlines, rail companies, and travelers alike.

“Sustainability is part of all the decisions we make. We recently worked with the Icelandic government to change the regulations of onboard waste, and we recycle about 60% of the total volume of waste that comes from our aircraft.”

— Þórunn Guðmundsdóttir, Onboard Service Implementation Specialist at Icelandair

Visitors to the Hamburg Messe gained the latest insights into how the industry can tackle issues around in-cabin waste.

Matt Crane, founder of the Aviation Sustainability Forum (ASF) uncovered the complexities of dealing with waste and improving circularity in a session entitled ‘Innovating Supply Chains – How to Overcome Barriers to Embrace Circularity’. He brought to light the need for new, collaborative relationships in the aviation industry and challenged the panelists and audience members to have fresh ideas and rethink the way the industry builds relationships.

Eco-friendly solutions for responsible, enjoyable, and tasty travel.

Live cooking demonstration at the Taste of Travel Theatre during the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE)
Live cooking demonstration at the Taste of Travel Theatre during the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE)

Special sessions at the Taste of Travel Theatre showcased the industry’s commitment to reducing environmental impact and meeting passenger expectations.

During a live cooking demonstration at the Taste of Travel Theatre inflight catering and tasting sessions, chef Steve Walpole demonstrated conscious cooking, looking at culinary sustainability, biodiversity, and natural foods.

Building Connections and Discovering Innovative Products

The World Travel Catering & Onboard Experience Expo prioritized networking opportunities, empowering attendees with the WTCE Connect tool to arrange meetings in advance. Over 1,300 meetings were facilitated, enabling buyers to connect with relevant industry associates and forge valuable relationships. The expo floor buzzed with on-trend food and beverage products, amenities, technology, textiles, and full-service equipment.

WTCE ran alongside the Passenger Experience Conference, offering attendees additional sessions dedicated to the onboard experience, catering and passenger comfort. Running concurrently, the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) showcased expertise, case studies, and insights into the broader cabin experience, featuring over 400 exhibitors specializing in airline seating, lighting IFEC, and cabin enhancements.

“It’s nice to catch up with the people we work with on a regular basis, and it’s been a really good show this year. There is a nice span of suppliers in attendance. I’m more interested in the onboard food offerings, so it’s been great to be able to set up meetings beforehand via the WTCE Connect tool to talk about this area of the business. There are both big and small suppliers here, which wasn’t always the case and is great to see. It is really easy and convenient to have everything in one place at WTCE.”

Hari Ghotra, Senior Manager of Inflight Food and Beverage Development and Ancillaries at Virgin Atlantic

WTCE 2023 rejuvenated the aviation and rail industries within the halls and beyond, with meaningful discussion on the latest trends in passenger comfort products, travel sustainability, and creating unforgettable travel experiences.

Exhibitors showcased innovative products and onboard services that promote health, cater to diverse needs, and reduce environmental impact.

WTCE, where innovation and excellence take flight

From networking opportunities to inspiring educational sessions, this year’s WTCE reinforced why this is truly the leading global event for the travel catering and onboard services industries. Exhibitors, speakers, and participants set the stage for a remarkable future of travel while showcasing the industry’s commitment to passenger satisfaction and sustainable practices.

“It’s always fantastic to witness first-hand the enthusiasm from visitors and exhibitors at WTCE, and really reassuring to see just how far we’ve come in the post-pandemic recovery process. One of our themes this year was bringing the fun back to travel, and our exhibitors well and truly embraced this to show how airlines and rail companies can create memorable experiences onboard. This year, WTCE has certainly been a show to remember, and I’m delighted that the feedback from visitors and exhibitors reflects this.”   

WTCE Event Director Polly Magraw

RX (Reed Exhibitions) organizes the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE). This can’t-miss event for onboard experience professionals will take place at the Hamburg Messe again next year from May 28-30.

You can find all the details here.

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