Onboard Hospitality - - In Conversation -

Fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of Ali­son Less­mann, founder of En Route, new md Robert Dal­both looks ahead to new op­por­tu­ni­ties and trends

It’s an ex­cit­ing time for our in­dus­try. The qual­ity of ev­ery­thing the in­dus­try does has in­creased and we are see­ing an up­swing in re­quests for real in­no­va­tion and choice. Air­line cater­ing bud­gets have be­come slightly big­ger and sud­denly price isn’t the first thing buy­ers talk about.

There is a new in­ter­est in re­gional prod­ucts, prove­nance and sus­tain­able pack­ag­ing. This all adds com­plex­ity to on­board pro­grammes but com­plex­ity is what we thrive on! The lines are blur­ring be­tween cab­ins too. The Econ­omy pas­sen­ger of today may well be in Busi­ness to­mor­row and wher­ever they sit, they in­creas­ingly ex­pect to be sur­prised and en­ter­tained by the on­board of­fer. They want it to come with a real sense of theatre.

Can do cul­ture

En Route is in great shape to re­spond to this change, largely thanks to the tremen­dous in­ter­nal cul­ture Ali­son al­ways fos­tered. I be­lieve in that too, hav­ing been a part of it for the past eight years and hav­ing seen how it en­ables the busi­ness to thrive.

En Route is known for its agility and a ‘no chal­lenge too dif­fi­cult’ ap­proach, so look­ing ahead we will build on this, fo­cus­ing more than ever on our prod­ucts and on our ge­o­graph­i­cal reach. We are push­ing out across Europe, de­vel­op­ing op­er­a­tions in the Mid­dle East, Far East and Aus­trala­sia, and build­ing our foot­print in the US.

Con­nect­ing brands

Prod­uct wise we will con­tinue to fo­cus most on what we are re­ally good at – our bak­ery her­itage, in­no­va­tive cheese ranges, hot hand­held snacks and snack boxes.

On­board re­tail is clearly go­ing to grow sig­nif­i­cantly and a big part of that will be about bring­ing re­tail brands on­board.

The con­sumer has con­fi­dence in brands they al­ready know, and in­creas­ingly those brands are also keen to be on­board but they don’t al­ways un­der­stand the con­straints and lo­gis­ti­cal de­mands. This is where our ex­per­tise can help both par­ties and en­sure that big name brands, such as Kraft Heinz and Nando's, get on­board in a form which suits crew op­er­a­tions and gal­ley re­quire­ments, max­imises yield and is as en­vi­ron­men­tall­y­sen­si­tive as pos­si­ble. It takes time to align their needs and work­ing prac­tices but this is some­thing we are keen to do more of.

We have am­bi­tious growth plans and be­ing part of dnata has helped us de­cen­tralise our model and ac­cel­er­ate our de­vel­op­ment. We are well placed to put our ‘de­sign-de­liverde­light’ mantra into ef­fect.

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