Sand, seminars and success!

Fresh from Dubai, Alexander Preston reflects on the paxex takeaways from this year’s Inflight IFEC Pavilion, Workshop and Awards in Dubai.

It’s always a privilege to see the set-up day of an event. Having been part of numerous exhibitions in the past, I’m still amazed at the transformation which occurs during 24 hours as a scene of apparent carnage metamorphoses into a carpeted exhibition hall with rows of shiny hardware on stands which only hours earlier had been empty shells.

The Inflight IFEC Pavilion was no exception, and my first experience of the both the event and Dubai, has not disappointed.

Two days of high-level panel discussions in the Inflight Workshop capped off another year of quality footfall in the Pavilion, proving that the region’s appetite for expert insight, knowledge and product demonstrations is showing no signs of abating.

This year we were honoured to have Joe Leader, CEO of APEX deliver our welcome address. Providing a contextual backdrop for the Workshop, Leader referenced data specific to the Middle East, taken from the Association’s recent 2015 Global Survey.

He revealed that Middle Eastern passengers lead the world with the highest ratio of device use once inflight, supporting the finding that entertainment and connectivity remain a key factor in influencing passenger experience.

Passengers, he said, are willing to pay for premium services a la carte so long as they are not abused. A view reinforced across the event by the likes of panellists Daniel Kerrison of flydubai and Gulf Air’s Mohamad El Assaad, who called for a greater understanding of what passengers want and use, and what the service being provided by airlines actually is. Only then can you measure how successfully it is being delivered.

Leader himself issued a call to action: “Airlines here at Inflight Workshop should focus on ease of use, connectivity, upgradeability with speed and “future proofing” of investments”, he said.

Summarising, Leader offered an optimistic note. “The bar is set very high in the Middle East, but remains more attainable to reach than it appears,” he told delegates.

Judging by the discussions which emerged over the two days, the aspirational nature of operators in the region are not misplaced or far-fetched. Whether it is providing connectivity onboard for passengers, or extending it to realise the connected aircraft, to treating passengers equally and fairly, irrespective of any disability or providing content passengers actually want to access, delivered safely and securely to a variety of platforms, OEMs and carriers alike are innovating to meet these challenges. As our Awards demonstrate, such innovation is also being recognised. Congratulations to all our award recipients – for a full list of winners click here.

A review of the Pavilion, Workshop and Awards will be carried in the March/April issue of Inflight.

Many thanks to all the panellists and Pavilion sponsors – the Inflight team is already brainstorming on next year’s event. Watch this space!

Panellists on the Enhanced Entertainment: Accessibility session discuss how well IFE caters to the needs of deaf and blind passengers. Image above, left to right: Mohamad ElAssaad, Gulf Air; Diane Johnson, Descriptive Video Works; Joe Leader, APEX; Eric Lipp, Open Doors Organization; Jon Norris, Lumexis

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