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PEX2015: In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) gets personal

A key afternoon session at the Passenger Experience Conference addressed the future of IFE and had some heavyweight contributors discussing how social media, connectivity and more importantly, the actual content will develop in the near future.Robin Cole, VP global business development, Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) focused on content rapidly developing to support an airline’s brand.“I see regional specialities in content. Airlines have unique brands and unique identities to specific regions and the content will evolve to reflect this,” she said.“Investments into the actual content, to quality over quantity will develop. Together with investments in security, these will be paramount issues for the future of IFE.”On the issue of content becoming much more personal to the passenger experience, Cole noted that the U.S. was way ahead of the world with the highest penetration of connectivity. She observed that many US airlines have ‘social media listening stations’, able to respond and engage to consumers’ mobile chatter at an instant.Dimiter Zahariev, development manager for the International Air Transport Association agrees. “There’s a growing awareness among our passengers that the IFE experience is becoming like the home experience,” he said. “People will expect a simulated experience, no doubt about it,” added Cole.But Zahariev did concede that “airlines are doing a good job on the ground at connecting with passengers but in-flight, there’s a lack of a similar engagement at present.” Rectifying this personal connect is of paramount importance to airlines’ connectivity plans and the passenger experience he added.All the panelists, including Don Buchman, VP of ViaSat and Al St.Gemain senior VP of Spafax, stated that airlines and social media, streaming, early-windows content and the likes of Netflix and other services passengers use on the ground,, will all have to be included in future IFE offerings in some form. It’s what passengers will expect they agreed.Cole made a good point that for many passengers, where this content comes from, in terms of how it gets to them, is largely irrelevant. They’re interested in personal content not the satellite or broadband method by which it gets delivered to them. Again, turning the discussion back to focusing on the passenger.So, expect the IFE future to get a whole lot more personal. As Zahariev noted, “If the airline knows you better, you’d expect the passenger experience to be a whole lot better.”Piers TownleyEditor, inflight-online.com

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