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Passenger Experience Conference to take a futuristic look at the travel sector in 2018

Headline speakers from Boeing, TAP and Thomas Cook set to tackle new frontiers in transport and the passenger experience.

Explosive changes are afoot in the travel industry. Across the globe, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators have set ambitious targets to realise a new generation of transport solutions and journey possibilities in the coming years. It is predicted that in the 2020s the first iterations of these next generation transport options and passenger innovations could well be introduced, creating a whole raft of new travel experiences that will radically affect mainstream aviation and rail operations.

This year’s Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) will take place on 9 April 2018 at the Hamburg Messe in Germany, and is set to examine the impact of critical travel trends on the air and rail industries. It will kick off with an inspirational Plenary Session that will aim to define the vision and strategy for the future passenger experience. Boeing’s Director of Differentiation Strategy, Blake Emery will moderate a discussion entitled New Frontiers for Transport and the Passenger Experience. This session will consider some of the challenges of implementing next generation transport solutions such as driverless cars, hyperloops, optionally piloted air taxis, electric planes and space flights on the air and rail industry, particularly looking at how addressing those challenges will also help drive onboard and passenger experience innovations across mainstream aviation and rail operations.

The Plenary session will include a presentation on Disruptive Possibilities and their Impact on the Airline Industry. The emergence of the Internet of Things, a term to describe any physical or virtual object or device joined up and communicating via the internet, has created disruptive and exciting possibilities for the future, but what will happen when these technologies converge and how will this affect the aviation industry? Richard Chung, Vice President of Innovation and Design for seating at Adient will share his thoughts on these scenarios and what will happen next. Following this, the Conference programme will divide into three breakout sessions that will run in parallel for the remainder of the day.

Convergence and Mobility will look particularly at how cross-pollination of ideas across travel modes can enrich today’s passenger experiences and create new business opportunities. As mobility becomes more seamless, how will it impact cabin interiors, supporting travel services and ancillary products? How will opportunities for new brand partnerships innovate fresh solutions? These questions will be posed and discussed in a number of sessions led by some of the industry’s foremost travel experts, including Kaj Pyyhtia, Customer Experience Officer and co-founder at MaaS Global. The company’s intuitive mobile app – The Whim mobility service – brings together every kind of urban transport into a single service and is set to revolutionise the way people travel and make day-to-day life easier. Kaj Pyyhtia will share this vision for seamless urban mobility and consider how our expectations about our travel experience – as passengers and consumers – will evolve in response.

Seamless mobility will also feature in the second presentation which looks at critical ideas and issues involved in Designing the Full Travel Experience, focusing particularly on what is required to create a coherent, smooth experience at each part of the transportation system. Senior Executives from TAP Portugal, Embraer and Almadesign will share their knowledge and experiences of how this could become a reality.

Onboard catering will also form a large part of this breakout session, with presentations looking at how, when and where people will eat on the move in the near and distant future, and what aviation and rail operators can do to ensure that whatever the situation, it is a positive dining experience. Christiane Bausback of N+P Industrial Design and Helmut Ramsauer of SPINPARTNERS will showcase an innovative and holistic vision of a high-quality eating experience that enables travellers to access their food throughout the whole travel chain, thanks to the collaboration of food and mobility as well as design and business. 

Raymond Kollau, founder of AirlineTrends will continue with a presentation on how today’s on-demand economy is shaping customer expectations of their inflight food and beverage experience, and how the industry can address the challenges of on-demand catering. Experts joining the subsequent debate will include Madeleine Braun, KLM’s Inflight Services Manager responsible for long-haul business class and Martin Buchholtz, Head of Global Product & Service Innovation and Research at LSG Group.

Personalising the Journey – another breakout session running on the day – will examine how air and rail companies are addressing the challenge of offering just the right experience to every passenger. It will also focus on how connectivity and data-driven technologies can help personalise the journey and enable deeper relationships between an airline and its service partners. Steve King, CEO at Black Swan will be joined by senior executives from IAG and Gate Group to examine how Data-driven Technology is Delivering Personalised Experiences Onboard.

Robin Hopper, Senior Vice President Product and Marketing at GuestLogix, will then go on to explore the possibilities for growing onboard retail into a rich commercial enterprise, looking particularly at the latest enabling technologies. Taking personalisation cues from other successful businesses such as Starbucks and Amazon, he will examine how air and rail operators can use mobile devices to engage with passengers before, during and after travel as well as exploring the concept of retail analytics, currently uncharted territory in the airline industry.

Finally, Flexible and Sustainable Thinking – the third breakout session of the Conference – will look at how the two concepts can be designed into products and services to afford more options for air and rail operators. Speakers including James Lee, Director at Paperclip Design, Rosalyn Gough, Cabin Product Quality Manager at Thomas Cook Group Airlines and Dan Aronov, President at Napaway Coach, will introduce flexible thinking, including a look at how to mitigate risks and offer rewards. The session will continue with presentations on the practicalities of introducing greater flexibility in the cabin environment and services in Flexible Cabins and Services – Opportunities to Innovate, and will conclude with a session on Sustainability in the DNA, particularly focusing on whether the concept can be designed into cabin interiors, products and services in a way that is either cost neutral or makes a positive economic impact on operations.

Following the close of the conference, delegates will be invited to network and discuss the day’s key topics with their peers and colleagues at the Industry Networking Party, which is free to attend for all conference attendees and VIPs. The party offers the perfect occasion to network with other industry professionals in a relaxed environment, whilst enjoying live music and cocktails.

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Angelos is the news editor for TravelDailyNews Media Network (, and His role includes to monitor the hundrends of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skim the most important according to our strategy.

He currently studies Communication, Media & Culture in Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens.