‘Over to you’: Laurent Safar, Adaptive Channel on the future of inflight and IFE

By Luke Barras-hill |

Over to You guest columns logo leadLaurent Safar, CEO of Adaptive Channel discusses the evolution of inflight engagement in a post-coronavirus world. He discusses why passengers’ fears of the virus will necessitate a safe, contagion-free onboard experience. As part of this, Safar argues that airlines should update their amenities and consider replacing traditional media such as glossy inflight magazines with digital alternatives.

Twenty twenty (2020) has not been – and will most likely not be – the year that any of us expected: the Covid-19 pandemic has effectively shut down all aspects of the travel industry, with aviation being particularly hard hit.

Although many governments around the world are offering airlines a lifeline in these financially challenging times, no airline will come out of this pandemic unaffected. But some will be facing a much better financial outlook, post-coronavirus, than others.

Now is the time for airlines to establish their post-coronavirus operational strategies so they will be ready to take-off right away when passenger demand returns. Airlines must dig deep and truly think outside of the box when it comes to how they will fulfil passengers’ needs, while cutting costs and boosting revenue.


Laurent Safar, CEO, Adaptive Channel: “Switching to digital IFE solutions, which offer digital press and traditional IFE content via passengers’ devices, will also enable airlines to mine valuable passenger data. That will prove instrumental in increasing ancillary revenue opportunities.”


In a post-coronavirus world, airlines will need to convince passengers that it is safe to fly with them – and business as usual just won’t cut it.

Travellers will expect a very different travel and inflight experience. Health and safety will be front-of-mind for passengers and they will expect airlines to implement strategies to protect them from potential contagions they may encounter while travelling. As such, inflight amenities and services will need to be considered and updated to address passengers’ health-related concerns.

Many travellers know that the common cold is also caused by a coronavirus and cold and influenza viruses can reportedly survive for hours on fabric and tissues and even longer (up to 48 hours) on non-porous surfaces like plastic and metal. Frequent disinfection of the aircraft, including the seat, seatbelt, tray table and seatback pocket, even during short turnarounds will be important.

However, airlines must also develop other ways to address passengers’ concerns about inflight contaminants, to make airlines standout from the crowd when passengers begin booking travel once again.

Before the pandemic, aviation was slowly moving towards digitisation due to advancements in streaming, inflight connectivity and PDE technologies. And coronavirus will be the catalyst necessary to speed up the transition – both in switching from hard copy to digital press and updating inflight entertainment (IFE) systems to include bring-your-own-device IFE offerings to address passengers’ post-Coronavirus fears of touching anything that isn’t their own.

The switch from hard-copy newspapers to digital newspapers, readable on the same device as digital magazines, is a way to offer passengers the press content that they want both inflight and in the lounge, accessed from the safety of their own device (via the airline’s mobile app or a web portal in lounges).

Eliminating hard copy newspapers and magazines will also help airlines to improve their turnaround time, which will be negatively impacted by new aircraft sanitisation practices, plus the social distancing measures that will be necessary while boarding.


Switching to digital IFE solutions, which offer digital press and traditional IFE content via passengers’ devices, will also enable airlines to mine valuable pax data. That will prove instrumental in increasing ancillary revenue opportunities.

IFE content selections – especially digital press, such as newspapers and magazines – give airlines incredible insight into passengers’ interests, needs and wants. The content-rich nature of newspapers and magazines give airlines the opportunity to discover data that will improve their ability to deliver targeted, compelling adverts more effectively to the right passenger, at the right time. This will drastically improve an airline’S travel retail conversion rates by leveraging up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.

These benefits are increased exponentially when you offer passengers access to digital press via an eReader (like Adaptive’s) that enables the tracking of each individual article that each passenger reads during the flight, to better determine his/her specific interests.


Passengers will expect a different travel and inflight experience in a post-Covid-19 world, believes Adaptive Channel. Increased caution around health and safety means airlines will need to act quickly to boost ancillaries and that could include appraising traditional media such as glossy magazines in view of digital solutions.

Let’s look at this in action: meet Bob, sitting in seat 11B on your flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

During his flight, Bob read the most recent issue of Golf Magazine from cover-to-cover. Because the magazines that passengers read illustrate their passions, you can deduce that Bob is either an avid golfer or someone who is very excited to start golfing in the near future. You can also infer that Bob’s attitude and brand affinity shows he is the perfect audience for an advert about an airline’s golf and hotel packages in Boca Raton, Florida; a luxury watch offered in your inflight sales catalogue; or even, a luxury car.

Knowing Bob’s interests and brand affinity also gives you the opportunity to send him more personalised ancillary revenue offers after he lands in his destination; his passion for golf can now be used to create an email marketing campaign, offering discounted golf packages in Miami’s hot spots and/or future flight and golf packages that he will find appealing. This will earn the highest conversion rate/ROI from your IFE spend. This means a better passenger experience for Bob and a strong net promoter score for your airline.

As you can see, the new normal in a post-coronavirus world will require significant changes from airlines and from passengers, but it will be one that most will welcome with open arms because it will signify the end of a difficult, financially unstable period and our return to profitability. In the meantime, we are in this together and we know that we will all make it through. See you on the other side.

Adaptive Channel is an experienced IFE and digital press content service provider  for the global aviation industry. Adaptive’s industry-leading IFE solution, ACES, delivers curated IFE content in multiple languages, encompassing diverse, globally relevant media at touchpoints throughout the entire customer journey: before, during and after the flight. Current airline clients include Singapore Airlines, SAS, TAP Portugal and others.

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the columnist and do not necessarily reflect those of TRBusiness.

To read other columns in the series, click the relevant links below. Interested in getting involved? Please contact one of the editorial team at the following: [email protected][email protected][email protected].

Tim Jobber, International Management Consultant, JES Travel Retail

John Pearce, Head of Retail & Commercial — Terminal, Adelaide Airport Limited

Andrew Brodie, CEO, Sunshine Coast Airport

James Prescott, Managing Director, Harding Retail

Kevin Brocklebank, Founder and MD, One Red Kite

Alain Maingreaud, President, TFWA Part Two

Alain Maingreaud, President, TFWA Part One

Tullia Ialongo, Business Development Partner, Wand Technology


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