Pre-or­der­ing 30 min­utes be­fore de­par­ture will soon be a re­al­ity

Onboard Hospitality - - In Conversation -

Six months af­ter be­com­ing gate­group coo, Fed­erico Ger­mani tells us how the smart­phone is driv­ing cater­ing into a new era, fast

The smart­phone and the tech­nol­ogy around it are giv­ing pas­sen­gers the power to bet­ter con­trol their ex­pe­ri­ence. That brings tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties for air­lines but also puts great pres­sure on the fi­nal mile of the cater­ing jour­ney.

Tech­nol­ogy will be a strong driver for the in­dus­try in the com­ing years, trans­form­ing the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence. We are in­vest­ing heav­ily in it by part­ner­ing, for ex­am­ple, with tech­nol­ogy lead­ers Black Swan to help un­lock the po­ten­tial. We be­lieve the op­por­tu­ni­ties are very ex­cit­ing, not just in food ser­vice but in on­board re­tail and ev­ery el­e­ment of buy-on-board lo­gis­tics.

Un­stop­pable trends

The whole air­line in­dus­try is un­der­go­ing a ma­jor tech­no­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion with on­board wifi be­com­ing stan­dard and grow­ing de­mand from pas­sen­gers for con­trol and in­for­ma­tion through­out their jour­ney.

But tech­nol­ogy is not just about the pas­sen­ger, it is in­te­gral to the suc­cess of the en­tire global sup­ply chain. If you are in­creas­ing pas­sen­ger choice and ex­tend­ing pre-or­der op­tions, ev­ery touch­point along the way must have the data and tech­nol­ogy to de­liver. There is no doubt pre-or­der­ing 30 min­utes be­fore de­par­ture will be with us very soon for both Econ­omy and Busi­ness. We will de­liver on that thanks to our in­vest­ment in data an­a­lyt­ics which en­sure ac­cu­rate load pre­dic­tions. The food won't be made in that last half an hour but the data will tell us long be­fore what will be re­quired.

Re­al­ity check

Hav­ing spent much of my ca­reer on the other side of the fence, within air­lines (most re­cently LATAM), I did not fully ap­pre­ci­ate un­til now the true com­plex­ity of air­line cater­ing. I'd vis­ited kitchens and air­port units of course but see­ing the scale, per­for­mance, ef­fi­ciency, con­sis­tency and true com­plex­ity of that last mile of the op­er­a­tion was eye­open­ing. The im­por­tance of a caterer be­ing a true part­ner with an air­line, shar­ing the same ob­jec­tives, sys­tems and in­te­grated tech­nol­ogy is ab­so­lutely fun­da­men­tal to the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able through true part­ner­ships are im­mense. Now I fully re­alise the in­vest­ment cater­ers such as gate­group make in their peo­ple, their world-class chefs, ef­fi­cien­cies and tech­nol­ogy. These investments are all de­signed to sup­port the air­lines' pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence. Air­lines should be very re­as­sured at how ad­vanced the think­ing and in­vest­ment is, it is this that will help them leap frog ahead and achieve the vi­sion so many talk about of the per­son­alised, con­nected pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence.

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