Karsten Zang, General Manager UAE, Lufthansa: Digital innovations for a perfect travel experience

Our future is about creating a convenient, connected, seamless and personalised experience for customers and hopefully eliminating the need for the generalisation of services.

The travel and aviation industry will see personalisation and innovation as continuing trends for 2016. More than ever, we are seeing the need for services to highlight personal experiences of passengers, bespoke to their needs and delivered via cutting-edge technology. And this is where innovation steps in.

Our view is that seamless travel will no longer be a promise but the fruition of a diligent research and development in ensuring that every journey will be smooth and convenient.

Interestingly enough, Euromonitor International’s Global Trends Report for the World Travel Market last November also highlighted that technology is about to transform the travel experience to make it richer and more enjoyable on the basis of the travellers’ personal preferences. Big thanks to mobile technology and analytics, it is now possible to know individual travelers’ preferences through their mobile behaviour.

Since last year, we have seen intensified influence of mobile and social environment as airlines and airports widely use advanced mobile technology to deliver improved services and operational commitments.

Innovative developments – and above all, digitalisation will produce new services along the entire air travel chain to enhance the travel experience. The Lufthansa Group is in the front line of innovation with apps, electronic baggage receipts, in-flight entertainment and super-fast Wi-Fi as examples. As such, personalisation of travel experiences and innovation are both within our reach.

At Lufthansa, we are aware that the only thing certain in commercial aviation is to adapt to changes in technology – both up in the air and within the palms of our hands. Fortunately, we are in a position to embrace the change and have in fact invested 500m euros between now and 2020 for its innovation and quality drive. The Group established its “Innovation Hub” in Berlin and ensures to identify future customer needs and trends at an early stage and be able to participate in shaping them. Currently, the Lufthansa Group is working with various startup companies globally to bring more innovation and ideas on the table.

With innovation, the future of travel connectivity to suit a traveler’s need in a very personalised way is under way. Can you imagine a passenger going to the airport getting a message about a traffic jam en route sent by the airline (who was authorised by the user to access his/her location) and suggests an alternative route to make it to the flight? The same technology would advise the passenger how much time is left before boarding and indicates where the nearest lounge is to relax before a flight. This is not far away in the distant future and is in fact, on the drawing board.

On board, passengers will be able to watch their own entertainment content from their mobile devices through WLAN streaming developed by Lufthansa Technik – the fastest access developed in civil aviation, already offered onboard all Lufthansa long-haul aircraft and soon also on the airline’s short as well as medium haul flights.

It is imperative that we are ahead of the trend. Just about every individual, including our passengers expect smart solutions and we are compelled to provide these from when the journey starts until the destination is reached. Our SMILE programme sees to it that we look at our own processes and products more intensively from a customer perspective and to move the holistic passenger experience more to the fore.

By personalising offerings and services more, we will be able to adapt in the fast-changing environment that we all live in. Our future is about creating a convenient, connected, seamless and personalised experience for customers and hopefully eliminating the need for generalisation of services.

Karsten Zang, General Manager UAE and Director Gulf, Afghanistan & Pakistan at Lufthansa

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