Over at C&IT, events and hospitality professionals have made their predictions for trends in the MICE industry during 2019. We take a look at what these trends mean when providing group charter flights for the industry and how we can support clients.
During the course of 2018, we have seen an increase in the number of clients within the MICE industry choosing to charter with us and thanks to our decades of experience, we are well-placed to accommodate the trends of an ever-evolving industry. Here are our thoughts on some of the key themes for the year ahead.
It has been noted that there’s an increasing trend towards personalisation, which involves clients looking for bespoke experiences and opportunities to communicate company branding and values. At Air Partner, we are seeing an increasing number of clients choosing to personalise and enhance their group charter experience by using our ServicePLUS programme and we expect this to increase even further in 2019 in line with the personalisation trend. Clients can choose from a variety of different add-on features to create a highly personalised event that effectively communicates the company’s branding – options include anything from branding the head-rest covers, coasters and placing branded items on the seats to personalising the in-flight entertainment system and branding the cabin crew uniforms. For the added “wow factor” we also work with clients to customise the exterior of the aircraft
Food choice is also cited as becoming increasingly important for MICE delegates and we are predicting clients will have an increased focus on inflight catering over the next year. This is something we can assist with, and have previously accommodated a wide range of requests such providing healthy cuisine, or food that fits the theme of the destination for example.
One of the key points made within the area of personalisation is also around flexibility and it’s cited how important the element of time is to events by ensuring time spent out of the office is time well spent. For event planners, this means tight schedules and an element of this is the provision of flexible flight times. One of the benefits of chartering flights is that it allows for control over flight times, rather than having to fit in with the immovable timetables of scheduled airlines. The client can create flight schedules to fit in with the event itinerary ensuring that every part of the day is maximised. We can assist in this planning process, to ensure flight timing preferences are catered for. Another time saving benefit to consider is the range of airports that group charter opens up. Clients can fly from smaller private airports, which can offer time saving benefits both in terms of distance travelled to the event location and time saving at the airport itself, such as skipping lengthy security and immigration queues.
When considering flexibility as a key trend, it’s also worth noting that we can organise scheduled flights to fit in with clients’ requirements. For example, if a client has delegates travelling from multiple locations, we can integrate schedule flights to one hub to bring the group together. This is often a good way of maximising event budgets also.
As the importance of the overall delegate experience rises during 2019, group charter is perfectly placed to support the industry in providing high standards on flights. One of these important factors in delegate experience is technology and we are seeing a trend towards more clients considering the use of technology on flights to enhance the experience. We can work closely with clients to improve the delegate experience by providing bespoke screens at check-in desks, personalising the in-flight entertainment system and customising the in-flight announcements. We have also worked with clients before for product launches who handed out iPads to showcase new offerings prior to take off.
Bigger events which happen less frequently have been cited as a trend for 2019. Our group charter team are well versed to working with a wide range of budgets and different sized events for our clients to create occasions which leave a lasting impression. However, over the next year, we are also predicting a trend towards big and memorable events. Planning ahead is an important element to ensure the event is a success and the sooner a client gets in touch with us, the better, as we can assist with the planning process.
Over the years, we have assisted in making events memorable and our Account Managers can recommend bespoke add-ons to enhance the experience. Clients often take advantage of private lounge hire to start the event on a memorable note. We can organise pre-flight catering in the lounge and it’s often a good opportunity to gather delegates together and present information about products or the event itself. In terms of event destinations, we are seeing clients consider a wider range of destinations to ensure the event is as memorable as possible. Increasingly so, we are also seeing that clients will also travel further afield to long-haul destinations for that added “wow factor”
As the MICE industry changes and adapts, so does the aviation industry and we look forward to assisting with your group charter requirements in 2019.