I joined Neutral Digital in January this year from a consulting and design background, so I really felt as though this set of trade shows was to be the ‘cherry on the cake’ of a steep month-long learning curve.
The first thing that struck me was what’s important for a major carrier to show at a trade fair. Clearly, depending on where the airline sees its competitive advantage (price point, variety of routes flown, brand associations or in-flight experience), different carriers are looking to hook different kinds of customers.
Being business-focused shows, the calibre of the airlines exhibiting was predictably high – with clients ranging from global management consulting firms to UK public sector organisations relying on specific carriers to ship employees on well-trodden routes for training programmes, the demands placed on the airline industry to deliver a quicker, smoother, more pleasant and more individually compelling flying experience are greater than ever before.
Asides from the regular trade show procedure of handing out goodie bags with USB sticks, free drinks from 5pm and vying for business based on loyalty schemes and how well customers can expect to be treated in the airport lounge, so many of the conversations I overheard and partook in had a pronounced focus on the ‘experience’ of flying with one brand over another.