Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eyeing IFE

January is the time when predictions for the year ahead can be found, and last week Adam Williams, Marketing Director for digEcor, the handheld entertainment systems provider came out with three important forecasts for inflight entertainment. 

The Utah-based company likes to keep its finger on the pulse of the industry. Last month, we wrote about digEcor's yearly passenger survey. The survey had some interesting responses in the preferences of passengers for inflight connectivity and movies. 

In addition to his duties at digEcor, Williams is editor of Airline Solutions Insider
"I don’t expect to see many big advancements in 2012," Williams writes.  "Rather, I think suppliers and airlines will work together to further bring last year’s innovations to the marketplace and then enhance those offerings."

On the business end, Williams said initial public offerings, like the one for Gogo, shows there is some confidence in a shaky investment community. On the technology side, expect to see greater access and effectiveness to apps with the introduction of HTML5. The third trend will be the rise of Android-based IFE systems. 

"Walking around the annual APEX meeting last Fall in Seattle you could easily find a slew of providers using Android as the OS of choice," he says. 

By next falls APEX event much more will be known of these and other trends. This past year saw many changes in the world of IFE. We should expect even more in the year ahead.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chelsea's SIA Service featured in Houston

Shashi Sanamvenkata, executive Chef at Chelsea Food Services in Houston is part of a colorful photo feature in the January 13 online edition of The Houston Chronicle. 

In the story, Sanamvenkata takes readers through the caterer's preparations for its catering of Singapore Airlines' flights from Houston to Moscow. No word on what company caters the final leg of the flight, which no doubt ends in Singapore. 

SIA has been operating the service since 2008 out of Bush Intercontinental Airport. In 2010, Singapore Airlines began daily service from Houston to Moscow at the same time as Emirates began its second daily flight from Houston to Dubai. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gourmet food with the help of technology

Most news about Delta Air Lines this week probably has much to do with the airline pondering the purchase of American Airlines. But in another corner of the carrier's operation some interesting events in its cabin service are brewing. 

The airline is testing out a pilot program called DineUp. On 48 hours notice, passengers in economy class can order some gourmet fare to be served onboard routes from New York Kennedy to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It's a three step process laid on the the carrier's Website. They have also set up a Facebook site devoted to DineUp with some great-looking meals. 

But it's not stopping there. This week, I spoke with Hans Miller, CEO of Airside Mobile about his company's work with HMSHost on the B4YouBoard, which delivers meals to a passenger's gate. The application is in place at three restaurants each at New York Kennedy, Chicago O'Hare and Minneapolis St. Paul International Airports. When an order is placed from a smart phone app, it is routed to the company’s back-end server. The application is handled by an Apple iPad at the participating restaurants. Airside Mobile sends pushed messages with updates back to the customer. The final message to the customer provides details on where he can find the B4YouBoard delivery person in the gate area. The ordering system needs exactly 20 minutes from the time of order to delivery. The clock starts when payment is made.

Fine dining for economy travel is having a limited return in a slightly different way with the help of mobile technology and improved logistics. We'll be covering this in our March issue bound for the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo and Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. 

The judges are gathering this week at The Palms hotel in Miami for the tasting and tallying at the annual Bacardi Cruise Competition. Among them is PAX International's own Maryann Simson. Look for a full report and news of the winners as they are announced. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

BA's Height Cuisine

If Facebook subscribers in inflight services have not 'friended' British Airways yet, perhaps they should. 

The airline has been keeping its social media contacts informed on its food service through a series of videos and it's Height Cuisine program. The final one was on the airline's Facebook page today. The entire series is also available there. 

Club World Food service on British Airways

The pieces are well done and the food looks great. Always refreshing to see an airline put the food and beverage service out front its marketing and outreach efforts. 

This week, Reed Exhibitions chose to highlight its upcoming World Travel Catering and Onboard Services  Expo with a few comments on fine dining with representatives from the top three caterers.

The industry is continuing to aspire to provide more passengers with a top level restaurant experience during their flight, cruise or train journey. It’s a testament to the dedication and ingenuity of both operators and suppliers that they manage to do this within the confines of everything from airline galleys to the logistics challenges posed by ensuring that the food served is as fresh as possible," says Exhibition Director, John Hyde.