Shop, cook, eat repeat…. the never ending cycle of lockdown dinners at home. I, for one, was super pleased when restaurants opened up and I could let someone else do the washing up. Hospitality has never been more essential!

Last year, I participated in the WTCE Taste of Travel webinar on ‘Why Onboard Hospitality is Key to Rebuilding Passenger Confidence’. It was really interesting to hear from Tom Szwed of Black Swan Data that social media is telling us that passengers are wishing & hoping for a return to full onboard service as soon as possible. Not only that, but Business Class travellers see this as a key part of the service and a real driver to encouraging them back on board.

Over the past eighteen months, air travel has been a ‘sanitised’ experience – fewer interactions, less product, reduced service but as we emerge from the pandemic it seems we cannot wait to bring the joy back to flying. We want it to be an ‘experience’ again, not just a means to an end.

This is great news for all of us in the onboard hospitality sector but inevitably things will have changed – so how might the ‘new’ normal look? 

Looking to 5* hotels for inspiration, full service is back but possibly more streamlined. Fewer, more quality interactions, timeless tableware and ‘hero’ pieces that really lift the overall look and feel of the service.

Listening to aviation colleagues on the webinar, digitisation is going to play a huge part in the service offering going forward. Buy before you fly – order in advance – however this may look carrier by carrier, it could mean that there is much more choice for the passenger. This also has added advantages – load only what you need and save on weight and waste.

The point was made that whilst digitisation should be a really positive step, it’s really important not to lose that 1-1 interaction with your passenger. Onboard service should still surprise and delight.

At Plane Talking Products  – it’s all ‘in the detail’ – the smallest design touch, slogan, free gift that brings a smile to someone’s face. Receiving something that you weren’t expecting, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Some of the most successful products we’ve been involved with have been as simple as producing the same amenity kit for example but in a few different colours – so you don’t get the same as the person sitting next to you and you get a different one next time you travel. You can also create points of difference using prints on products, decals on chinaware, embossing on blankets  – none of which add much to the cost of the product but just make it stand out and really lift it’s perceived value.

Hospitality is back thank goodness –  and how we’ve missed it!