With over 70 years of experience in the airline catering industry LSG Sky Chefs boasts a broad and deep understanding of its airline customers and their passengers’ needs. In July 2009 LSG Sky Chefs created a dedicated “product marketing” department to engage airlines in a new way to create a unique and holistic travel experience for passengers not only on board, but also throughout their entire journey. Armed with the expertise this team has developed a distinctive yet simple five-step process where they not only analyze global market trends but also look at an airlines’ vision, brand values and positioning in order to define the correct strategy for the airline’s service offer. This team then works with the airline to help convert the strategy into concepts and then co-create and design a full range of products and services. The APEX editor’s blog recently reached out to LSG Sky Chefs to gain a better understanding of the secrets to the company’s global success. Here is our Q&A with the industry giant.
Question: What lessons can be – and are being – learned from other sectors of mobility, like the rail or automotive worlds?
At LSG Sky Chefs, we are not only active within the airline industry but have been working in adjacent markets such as rail catering, school catering and retail. Concerning mobility as a mega-trend and how this affects the offer of technology, we have learnt a lot from the rail, retail and hospitality industry. For example, smart phones and apps are becoming increasingly popular and more relevant as marketing and communication tools in all of these markets. .
We have worked with important design companies from different industries from packaging companies to hotels and restaurants in order to keep up with the latest consumer trends and demands. We benchmark our development process with the automotive industry in order to be more efficient.
It is important to know that all innovations are driven by mega-trends such as mobility, individualisation and health and wellbeing. It is what drives consumer behaviour and it is important to understand that they all have local interpretations. Mobility in Asia is not the same as in North America. LSG Sky Chefs, being such a global company has been able to garner the knowledge so that we can keep our customers abreast of the latest trends and innovations that can ultimately support an airline’s differentiation. LSG Sky Chefs can boost airlines in translating the mega-trends into concrete products and services relevant to their passengers.
And can you point me to any specific white papers on the issue?
The next LSG Sky Chefs white paper will focus on ‘Trends and Innovation’ and is due to be published in the first quarter 2013.
Question: In recent months, some carriers have started allowing economy-class passengers to pre-order premium meals. Does LSG Sky Chefs expect to see more of these types of programmes implemented?
We see this as a growing demand from passengers in the industry and LSG Sky Chefs is ready and prepared for whatever the scenario might be. We focus on the airlines’ and passengers’ needs, and will tailor the product and services according to that. We have worked with several airlines in the past to help co-create specific concepts that best address their passengers’ desires and support them to differentiate in the market
Question: Does LSG Sky Chefs believe these programmes will serve as a precursor for airlines to implement buy-on-board programmes – for all meals – on long-haul flights? In other words, are airlines ‘easing us in’ to the idea of BOB for transatlantic flights, for instance.
Not necessarily. Each airline is different and their passengers’ needs are different. Whatever the demand from airline customer or passenger may be, we can work with the airline to create specialised solutions for their passengers with our unique development process.
Question: Offering retail-styled food on board seems to be quite popular now; how does LSG Sky Chefs work with airlines to create unique onboard services in light of the retail trend (i.e. Is it an inhibitor in any way, or a catalyst for innovation?)
We definitely see it as an opportunity for being innovative. One of the reasons why we are working in adjacent markets such as rail catering or retail is that we use the knowledge gained in those markets and incorporate it into the complete travel experience. We have a dedicated Buy-on-Board department that makes sure that the BoB service concepts we create best represent the airlines’ brand while incorporating the latest trends and innovations ensuring highest customer satisfaction.
Question: What types of innovations are you seeing – and implementing – in onboard equipment?
The latest trend in on-board equipment is the concept of having lightweight solutions, as weight reduction is an important topic especially with the new EU rules on emissions. Sustainable, new composite materials are key buzzwords with a demand for equipment that is modular and provides the highest level of flexibility. LSG Sky Chefs has a large variety of lightweight, eco-friendly and sustainable products, which we market under our “Enlight” brand.