A growing middle class that is tech-savvy and mobile enabled in the Asia-Pacific region is opening up “unprecedented consumer retail opportunities in the airline industry”, which in turn is driving the need for new payment technology, onboard merchandising and payments specialist GuestLogix suggests.
During this month’s APOT.Asia conference in Incheon, South Korea, which was hosted in conjunction with the International Flight Services Association (IFSA) and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and presented by Korean Air, GuestLogix Asia-Pacific SVP and general manager Tony Sit described the new travel market in Asia-Pacific.
“An estimated 90 million tourists travelled abroad from Asia in 2011, spending a collective $86 billion” says Sit. “In 2011, a Boeing Global Business Travel Association Survey found that 48% of Asian survey respondents are using Facebook or Twitter to plan travel (compared with 10% of US travellers).”
A separate survey by the Asian Travel Monitor shows that 32% of Asian travellers will travel more in 2012 than in 2011, he notes, adding that Asia-Pacific travellers “spend more money on average than Western travellers do”.
For airlines, a host of payment methods and interactive services exist today, including kiosks, mobile apps, mobile POS, and traditional credit cards. Additionally, new technological capabilities in inflight entertainment (IFE), in-cabin Wi-Fi and destination-specific offerings are changing the way airlines sell goods and services, and monetize the inflight experience, notes Sit. But airlines seeking to meet the needs of the technologically sophisticated Asia-Pacific traveller must also look at future technology.
“Wallets are going digital, with Visa and MasterCard both having launched their online digital wallet services. Consumers will be utilising digital wallets more and more frequently, in particular when ‘on the move’,” he says. “Chip & PIN is now prevalent, with heightened certification requirements and new merchant liability causing rapid change in the way transactions are processed in many parts of the world.”
He adds: “Contactless and NFC payments are now the fastest growing payments. Over one billion contactless cards are expected to ship by 2016. Near Field Communication (NFC) will also have a rapid incline, with Juniper Research estimating that one in six mobile subscribers will have this capability as early as 2014.”
GuestLogix enables transactions serving over 1 billion passenger trips each year, supporting a customer base across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and into Asia. With its regional office in Hong Kong, the company is now able to provide Asia-Pacific-based airlines with its onboard retail solutions and offer them local delivery and support. In a recent win in Asia-Pacific, GuestLogix was tapped by India’s Jet Airways to deploy its technology and point-of-sale (POS) handheld devices to power the carrier’s inflight duty free program
The APOT.Asia event – which was attended by 275 people, including 50 APEX members – also provided a platform for other APEX members to present educational sessions focusing on what’s next in the airline passenger experience. For instance, William Huot-Marchand of Thales stated that the inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) industry marketplace – inclusive of content – is valued at approximately $2.9 billion now, but is projected to grow to $7.4 billion as early 2022. Chris Lundquist of Panasonic Avionics shared his predictions on the technologies we’ll see on board by 2020, while Ingo Wuggetzer of Airbus looked into the “Crystal Ball” of how airlines can increase passenger satisfaction by understanding the passenger.
Attendees agreed that the APOT.Asia networking events were outstanding and offered cultural experiences (drums, theatre performances, and dancers) and many opportunities to leave the hotel as a group, including a boat tour and organized city tours.
Next year’s Asia-Pacific forum will be in Vietnam.