Air New Zealand used the introduction of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner into their fleet in 2014 as the catalyst for rethinking its inflight engagement with Airpoints members. The new aircraft came with new technologies, including a new Panasonic Inflight Entertainment System (IFE). Air New Zealand transformed this from a one-size-fits-all interactive system for delivering entertainment content into a fully personalised digital engagement channel.
This was a ground-breaking project that stretched the knowledge and capability of both their internal team and their IFE vendor. Their goal of personalising the experience meant they were pushing innovation in a number of areas in which the vendor had no prior experience with other clients. In doing so, the team delivered a number of world-first innovations:
- Welcome screen personalisation (one of the most visible and talked about of all the changes)
- Buy on board (ecommerce using Airpoints Dollars as the currency)
- Retention of customers’ favourites/playlists over multiple flights
- Retention of settings and preferences
Air New Zealand also extended the experience further with new on-board features including favourites emails, Seat Chat, Screen Share and 3rd party apps (Destination content by Trip Advisor, Weather via NZ Metservice).
To achieve this they overcame a number of significant technical challenges:
- No internet connectivity to the aircraft meant data had to be optimised for timely exchange via the cellular network when the planes are on the ground
- Dealing with individuals’ personal data meant robust security and authentication were paramount.
- The integration services to offer payments via Airpoints Dollars had to be designed and developed from scratch
This is a world-first innovation in the airline category. It created an entirely new, individually addressable, ‘owned’ channel… and it has delivered an experience that truly sets Air New Zealand apart from its competitors.