The fu­ture of news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines in flight

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When we kicked off 2016 we called it the Year of the Per­son; and al­though we are all bi­o­log­i­cally pretty much the same in terms of our DNA se­quenc­ing, we are still very dif­fer­ent as in­di­vid­u­als (life would be bor­ing oth­er­wise, wouldn’t it?).

Over the past few years, we found our­selves drown­ing in a sea of con­tent, and with our con­tin­u­ously re­duc­ing at­ten­tion span, we have be­come more and more choosy on how we spend our time and what con­tent we read.

De­spite the amount of click­bait and fake news on­line, I en­joy an un­prece­dented abil­ity to fil­ter enor­mous amounts of in­for­ma­tion based on my in­ter­ests and pas­sions. Not to be con­fused with bias, where I might only read con­tent that ap­peals to my lean­ings, po­lit­i­cal or oth­er­wise, I choose to spend my pre­cious time on con­tent in which I have a gen­uine in­ter­est.

In the print-dom­i­nated world we didn’t have the lux­ury of be­ing able to choose, given ac­cess only to printed me­dia cu­rated by ed­i­tors and those in con­trol of dis­tri­bu­tion.

For some­one who trav­els, this also meant a lim­ited se­lec­tion of con­tent avail­able at our des­ti­na­tions. In most cases, the only con­tent which was avail­able to a trav­eler would have been ei­ther lo­cal con­tent, or days’ old pub­li­ca­tions from a home coun­try. This no longer works.

And in to­day’s dig­i­tally hy­per-con­nected world, if we ac­knowl­edge the fact that we need to change with the times and en­gage with au­di­ences through qual­ity con­tent from their per­spec­tive, it makes it eas­ier to ac­cept con­sumers’ de­mand for con­trol and choice. Not only can we as a pub­lish­ing in­dus­try pro­vide the rel­e­vant con­tent to our read­ers, but to look beyond sim­ply driv­ing au­ditable cir­cu­la­tion and seek en­gage­ment with our con­sumers and, in­deed, use the new op­por­tu­ni­ties to fos­ter long-term re­la­tion­ships with them.

Many in­dus­tries to­day are al­ready re­spond­ing to this re­al­ity and the need to be more en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly in the prod­ucts and ser­vices they of­fer their guests and pas­sen­gers.

Zero­ing in on air travel specif­i­cally, to learn what fly­ers want in terms of their on­board read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, PressReader re­cently part­nered with the Air­line Pas­sen­ger Ex­pe­ri­ence As­so­ci­a­tion (APEX) to sur­vey their mem­bers on the trends they are see­ing in their in­dus­try.

The re­sults may, or may not, sur­prise you given to­day’s de­mand­ing gen­er­a­tion, but I do hope that they will make you put cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence on the top of your agenda in 2017 to cap­ture the at­ten­tion and time of the 3.9 bil­lion trav­el­ers that will hit the skies in the com­ing year look­ing for con­tent that en­gages them in flight.

The fu­ture of con­tent, tech­nol­ogy and the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence

Ev­ery in­dus­try in the world has been im­pacted by the mas­sive tech­no­log­i­cal and so­cial changes that have oc­curred over the past decade. Mu­sic, travel, hos­pi­tal­ity, pub­lish­ing…they’re all, in their own way, be­ing rewrit­ten from the ground up as a re­sult.

In the case of air­lines, tech­nol­ogy has trans­formed them from a ser­vice that trans­ports trav­ellers from point A to point B, into one that can cre­ate an invit­ing and en­ter- tain­ing travel ex­pe­ri­ence, tai­lored to meet the needs and wants of each pas­sen­ger.

To ad­dress one as­pect of the on-board ex­pe­ri­ence (ac­cess to news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines), PressReader part­nered with the Air­line Pas­sen­ger Ex­pe­ri­ence As­so­ci­a­tion to sur­vey its mem­bers to gain in­sights into their plans.

Here are some of the high­lights…

When do you plan to stop of­fer­ing printed news­pa­pers?

70% said they have al­ready stopped of­fer­ing printed me­dia on-board or plan to stop of­fer­ing print within 5 years.

76.9% of air­lines with less than 500,000 an­nual flights have al­ready, or plan to stop of­fer­ing print within 5 years

83.3% of air­lines with less than 100,000 an­nual flights have al­ready, or plan to stop of­fer­ing print within 3-5 years

50% said that dig­i­tal ac­cess to lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional news­pa­pers on a pas­sen­ger’s own de­vice is hugely ben­e­fi­cial; 55% said the same thing about mag­a­zines

Per­sonal de­vice ac­cess was val­ued much higher than ac­cess through seat­back In­flight En­ter­tain­ment (IFE)

50% of re­spon­dents also be­lieved that pas­sen­gers would find dig­i­tal ac­cess to the air­line’s mag­a­zine ben­e­fi­cial.

The op­por­tu­nity is knock­ing

If ever there was a time for the air­line in­dus­try to ag­gres­sively in­no­vate for a more prof­itable fu­ture, it’s now. Ev­ery day, new op­por­tu­ni­ties are open­ing up to grow loy­alty with con­nected con­sumers by of­fer­ing a su­pe­rior cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence along ev­ery touch­point in the car­rier-pas­sen­ger value chain.

Most air­lines have al­ready in­sti­tuted loy­alty pro­grammes be­cause the po­ten­tial as­sets gained can’t be ig­nored. And al­though loy­alty pro­gramme suc­cess re­quires a large mem­ber­ship base, what’s more im­por­tant is the re­ten­tion and longevity of its mem­bers be­cause:

• It is 5-10 times less ex­pen­sive to re­tain a cus­tomer than to gain a new one;

• Loyal con­sumers buy 90% more of­ten, spend 60% more per pur­chase, de­liver three times the value an­nu­ally and are five times more likely to choose the brand in the fu­ture;

• Sat­is­fied cus­tomers will share their pos­i­tive brand ex­pe­ri­ence with nine oth­ers, while un­happy con­sumers will share their dis­plea­sure with 22;

• A 5% in­crease in cus­tomer re­ten­tion can in­crease prof­its by 25-95%

Re­tain­ing loy­alty in the travel in­dus­try is a con­stant bat­tle in what is no longer a “low­est price wins” war.

Ac­cord­ing to Collinson Group, air­line fre­quent flyer mem­ber­ships were down from 65% in 2014 to 55% in 2015. For­rester re­ported that same year that air­lines had the low­est level of loy­alty of all the ma­jor in­dus­tries. Only 62% of pas­sen­gers were re­luc­tant to switch pro­grammes com­pared to 80% in re­tail (the most loyal sec­tor).

Air­lines have an en­vi­able and unique ad­van­tage of hav­ing an im­mer­sive and up-close-and-per­sonal con­nec­tion with cus­tomers that can last for hours. Very few other in­dus­tries have that long and un­in­ter­rupted op­por­tu­nity to woo their clients. Air­lines need to bet­ter cap­i­tal­ize on that by liv­ing and breath­ing a pas­sen­ger-first cul­ture through­out the en­tire jour­ney to max­i­mize re­ten­tion, es­pe­cially in the air.

Serv­ing the con­nected con­sumer on board

60% of air­line man­agers and ex­ec­u­tives sur­veyed said the most chal­leng­ing part of the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence to im­prove is the in-flight com­po­nent of a pas­sen­ger’s jour­ney.

In this dig­i­tally de­pen­dent era, cus­tomers ex­pect to be con­nected at all times and their ex­pec­ta­tions are grow­ing. To­day Amer­i­can adults spend 10 hours and 39 min­utes per day con­sum­ing me­dia, a full hour more than they did a year ago. So it’s no won­der that the de­mand for WiFi and con­nec­tiv­ity is in­creas­ing, whether it’s for email, brows­ing the in­ter­net, ac­cess­ing so­cial me­dia, stream­ing mu­sic or down­load­ing me­dia (i.e. mag­a­zines, news­pa­pers and movies).

The de­mand is so high that 60% of US fly­ers say they would be up­set if Wi-Fi wasn’t avail­able on their flights, with 45% say­ing they would not be loyal to their pre­ferred air­line if it didn’t pro­vide the best Wi-Fi. And for long-haul flights, the de­mand is even greater.

Ac­cord­ing to SITA’s 2016 IT Trends Sur­vey, ap­prox­i­mately 1/3 of air­lines to­day op­er­ate con­nected air­crafts, with 66% ex­pect­ing to do so within the next three years. 45% of re­spon­dents be­lieve im­prov­ing the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence is the pri­mary ben­e­fit.

So how can an air­line of­fer paid ser­vices that max­imise the po­ten­tial of re­tain­ing an air­line’s most valu­able cus­tomers with­out break­ing the bank? Read on…

On-board con­nec­tiv­ity on per­sonal de­vices

In 2013, Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FAA) in con­junc­tion with the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (FCC) re­laxed the us­age rules for per­sonal en­ter­tain­ment de­vices, driv­ing de­mand for “Bring Your Own De­vice” (BYOD) ser­vices by pas­sen­gers.

Of the 9,000 pas­sen­gers sur­veyed by SITA, 46% of those who watched a movie on their most re­cent flight did so on their per­sonal de­vice. 65% said they would like to ac­cess IFE on their own de­vices in the fu­ture.

By De­cem­ber 2019, 70+% of air­lines will pro­vide pas­sen­gers with multi-me­dia stream­ing to the pas­sen­ger’s own de­vice through on-board Wi-Fi.

The shift to BYOD has re­sulted in a de­clin­ing in­ter­est in tra­di­tional seat­back IFE sys­tems which add both weight and cost to an air­craft. A num­ber of car­ri­ers are al­ready be­gin­ning to re­move them from some of their fleets.

BYOD also im­proves the po­ten­tial for en­hanc­ing a per­son­alised ex­pe­ri­ence, al­low­ing pas­sen­gers to in­ter­act more ef­fi­ciently with crew mem­bers via the air­line’s so­cial me­dia teams to help flight at­ten­dants solve prob­lems or im­prove ser­vice faster.

The most pop­u­lar BYOD in-flight ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude read­ing, mu­sic, games and movies. Tak­ing a look at the read­ing ac­tiv­ity (specif­i­cally the con­sump­tion of tra­di­tional me­dia), it would not be a stretch to as­sume a pas­sen­ger’s in-flight read­ing matches to what they do be­fore they board.

Cur­rent news con­sump­tion trends

Ac­cord­ing to Reuter’s 2016 Dig­i­tal News Re­port, the most pop­u­lar source of news is dig­i­tal, re­gard­less of age.

And while video is gain­ing in­ter­est on so­cial me­dia, 78% of peo­ple still pre­fer read­ing news in text form.

Main­stream me­dia brands that have a strong news legacy (e.g. The Wash­ing­ton Post, Forbes, The Globe and Mail, Le Monde, Newsweek, Bloomberg Busi­ness­week and The Guardian, just to name a few) are the main choice for hard core news. Dig­i­tal-na­tive brands (like Buz­zFeed) are mostly used as sec­ondary sources for softer news sub­jects.

The rapid growth in mo­bile and BYOD of­fers huge op­por­tu­ni­ties for me­dia, read­ers and busi­nesses who pro­vide ac­cess to pre­mium news to cus­tomers. In the US, 80+% of peo­ple en­gage with dig­i­tal news­pa­per con­tent, with more than half us­ing only mo­bile de­vices for ac­cess.

What does all this mean for in-flight me­dia?

The dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion has fu­elled mas­sive changes across busi­nesses, gov­ern­ments and so­ci­ety – changes that have in­verted the tra­di­tional power fun­nel that ex­isted be­tween busi­nesses and con­sumers through­out most of his­tory.

We are liv­ing in a new con­nected econ­omy where con­sumers hold the power and wield it like a sword, ready to hack in­sti­tu­tions off their favourites list in a mo­bile minute if they don’t give them what they want. Air­lines are not im­mune from this phe­nom­e­non and must con­tin­u­ally in­no­vate to en­sure they stay rel­e­vant for the rapidly-evolv­ing gen­er­a­tions of fly­ers.

In the news­pa­per and mag­a­zine world, that means re­think­ing how con­tent is sourced and distributed to trav­ellers, most of whom aren’t will­ing to pay for it.

The tra­di­tional ap­proach to serv­ing up printed me­dia was to of­fer a few news­pa­pers at the gate, a hand­ful of mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers in the lounge and a small col­lec­tion of pub­li­ca­tions on board for pre­mium cab­ins.

But with to­day’s dis­cern­ing read­ers who want ac­cess to mul­ti­ple sources of me­dia it goes with­out say­ing, that the lim­ited printed pub­li­ca­tion ap­proach doesn’t cut it any­more. Not only does it not serve the needs of to­day’s news-hun­gry con­nected con­sumers, it’s adding un­nec­es­sary fuel costs with ev­ery flight.

Air­line ex­ec­u­tives haven’t quite fig­ured out how to thrive in this new econ­omy yet, but many are mak­ing some head­way with a fo­cus on ex­pe­ri­ence and the con­nected con­sumer’s val­ues and needs.

For ex­am­ple, PressReader is work­ing with air­lines like Qan­tas Air­ways and oth­ers on a num­ber of in­no­va­tive ini­tia­tives de­signed to:

• Use pre­mium con­tent to drive pos­i­tive brand ex­pe­ri­ences across numer­ous cus­tomer touch­points

• In­te­grate qual­ity con­tent into their mar­ket­ing pipe­lines, in­clud­ing lounges, so­cial me­dia, email, ad­ver­tis­ing, loy­alty pro­grammes and cross-pro­mo­tional part­ner­ship with pub­lish­ers

• De­liver higher lev­els of per­son­al­i­sa­tion based on who cus­tomers are, where they live, where they travel and their me­dia in­ter­ests

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