Amenities gets to know SPIRIANT’s General Manager of Amenity Kits, Angie Fung, and her thoughts on all things amenities. Having worked in the industry for over 20 years, with previous experience working for brands such as Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein, who better to talk to when it comes to the current market.
What inspired you to work in the amenity industry?
I’ve been in the airline industry for almost 20 years and my journey to amenities has been a natural evolution. It really started before airlines, where my previous focus was in the development of toiletry bags and gifts for the fragrance and skincare industry. I worked with brands like Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein and discovered that I found the full process of product conceptualization, sampling, production, all leading up to the final reveal incredibly rewarding.
I took a leap and found my home in the airline industry, where I’ve been involved in all product segments in one form or another; comfort items, meal service, crew & service; you name it, I’ve done it. When the opportunity arose at SPIRIANT for a brand new set-up of a dedicated Amenity Kits Business Unit, I jumped at the opportunity.
What has been the most significant shift in the industry since starting your career?
There have been tremendous changes over 20 years. Back then, there was less competition and the airline industry was still a bit of a mystery to most.
I remember exhibiting IFCA, in a tiny exhibition hall with a handful of suppliers. Competition wasn’t as fierce as it is nowadays, but the good thing about competition is that it propels suppliers to strive to be better.
Obviously, tech advancements have had a huge effect on visibility these days, with information easily accessible to everyone, which gives us an amazing platform for product launches, communication, and developments.
What is the biggest challenge the amenity industry faces in the current market?
Aligning airlines with the perfect brand is crucial. It’s so important to get it right, finding an offering that ticks all the boxes and has the wow factor. It’s simply not enough to offer visual appeal, it has to be powerful enough to take home into their day-to-day life. That’swhen an amenity kit has been truly successful! It’s becoming commonplace for airlines to offer branded kits, so it takes a bundle of expertise, knowledge and creative flair to overcome that challenge.
What excites you most about the amenity industry at present?
For me, it’s always the challenges that excite me. Discovering a new brand, developing the next ‘wow’ kit, embracing new materials and trends; it’s all about jumping over a hurdle to creating something new, inspiring and game changing for the airline.
With the world evolving as quickly as it is now, having a clear vision for next steps is vital. You cannot challenge yourself if you’re not stepping into uncharted territory!
What would be your ideal tender?
My ideal tender is working jointly together with airlines on developments, perhaps in the form of workshops to design the kit as a team.
There’s such immense satisfaction in the airline being an integral part of the creative process, simply because they can experience the excitement of product evolution.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
If I’m honest, my job offers a lot of sparkle and bling – there’s never a dull moment! I love being able to immerse myself in every aspect of the design process from the beginning to the end, it’s truly fulfilling.
Is there anything you would change or perhaps do differently in the industry?
How this industry has evolved over the years is mainly because of the changing business environment, both for the airline and also the suppliers.
For example, market forces, the economy and trends in consumer preferences dictate many of the decisions made and ultimately the final product offering. I’ve given in to the fact that it’s impossible to change the inevitable and learned to embrace to our advantage instead.
Premium economy appears to be a quickly growing market, how will suppliers provide airlines with long-lasting solutions to tackle the on-demand service that is now expected from the passenger, from cabin interiors and the aircraft, to the amenity kits and Inflight entertainment?
PEY is a growing market and some airlines are still discovering who these passengers actually are. It’s often a consideration of ‘is our PEY offering a downgrade of Business or an upgrade of Economy?’
I truly believe that it’s individual to the airline’s needs. It’s not simply a case of the product offering, you need to look at the whole PEY concept as a whole – especially where the ticket pricing plays such an important part of how the airline tailors the concepts and products around that. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, which is where working with a supplier who understands how to expertly explore the route is a must. It’s about finding a solution that’s perfect for a specific airline or region. For example, our kit for Asiana Airlines included a luxurious pair of slippers that passengers can simply slip into and have instant comfort. This takes into account the significance of slippers to Korean culture.
How do you think the growing trend of Gender neutrality will affect Airline Amenity Offerings?
Very simply put, the needs of men and women are different. An amenity kit’s essence becomes pointless if there’s a random bunch of toiletries and cosmetics that aren’t useful or interesting to the passenger. It just becomes watered down.
For example, men might need a shaver and cream, but women desire make-up remover wipes to freshen up. It’s a challenge to accommodate both.
Our approach is to focus specifically on the practicality of the product. For instance, replacing a facial moisturizer with a spray is strategic, as the spray offers the hydration necessary in a cabin environment. Taking it further, if a scented spray was a step too far for men, airlines could place lavender seeds in the eyeshades, so the functional effect still exists but men are more comfortable to make use of the product.
How important are onboard amenities and amenity kits when it comes to realizing the journey in the cabin as a complete sensorial experience?
It would be my dream come true if all airlines adopted the approach of using onboard amenities and kits for sensorial purposes. Often, they are held back by budget restrictions, as it’s seen as unattainable, but airlines don’t realize that small, cost-effective changes exist andcan have a big impact.
It can be a really simple gesture such as spraying a fragrance in the cabin just before the lights turn off to evoke a restful night’s sleep. This can be easily translated into the kits also, by adding a bottle of the same fragrance. Passengers can then use it in their hotel room and still evoke the same restfulness they enjoyed on their flight.
How will airline amenity offerings adapt to the consumerizing of passenger data to create a more personalized experience?
Fundamentally, collecting data is only worth anything if a strategic plan exists to use it. The possibilities of using data to shape what airlines are offering in their amenity kits is huge, but it’s a slow evolution and it needs to be used in the right way. Airlines need to consider, ‘Ok what’s the plan when we have this data? How are we going to use it to enhance our passenger’s experience?’
How will the increased exposure through social media create new marketing opportunities and influence brand partnerships within airline amenity offerings?
It’s exciting times with technology and we should never underestimate the power of social media platforms. So many airlines are offering Wi-Fi onboard, which creates a whole new platform for airlines, brands and advertisers.
The simple action of a passenger posting on Instagram the bottle of wine they had onboard can instantly increase sales of the product or bring increased exposure to the brand. The upshot of this is that brands are changing the way they are visually portrayed on their products to make them more ‘Instagrammable’. For example, how will their logo be more visible and most attractive? Everything is so quickly circulated to millions of people and it’s a multi-faceted opportunity that also comes with risks too. Airlines need to make sure they’re considering every aspect of how this level of exposure will affect them.