Amenities put Alexander Ferents, Managing Director of AK-Service in the spotlight
Do your key client’s requirements differ from those in other global regions?
There is only a difference in budget! It is our belief that some Western companies spend a lot more money in design and production of kits. However, we are able to ensure our products are of the same high standard, whilst keeping the investment lower for our clients.
Do EU and US sanctions effect you when pitching in other regions?
No! The whole Russian and CIS onboard production market were not affected by the sanctions. In fact, on the contrary, it has made it harder for foreign companies to break into the market in this region.
Are global brands important with Airlines within your region?
Of course! Though not only world-famous brands, but also popular local companies. Those brands which are the most recognised in the customer’s country are much more valuable on the market.
What are your views on children’s kit being integrated with inflight entertainment systems or apps?
If there is a way to combine a baby kit with the animation onscreen (trucks, animals etc), then I believe that is a perfect way to help young passenger’s stay interested during their time onboard.
The line between digital entertainment and classic children’s toys is becoming finer everyday. We are always looking for ways to incorporate the two of them. For instance, Aeroflot organised a competition to get people to design a fox-like hat that would be included in the kits AK-Service provided. They then had to upload their designs and creations to Instagram, and a winner was picked. It was an excellent tool to attract people and promote the brand via their accounts. As a result, it was an astonishing success for the airline and a source of boundless joy for the little passengers.
What is the biggest challenge when developing children’s kits?
First of all, it is very hard to try walking in a child’s shoes. We may remember some moments of our childhood; however, it is impossible to remember the exact feelings, emotions and outlooks we had as a child. We can only try and guess.
Secondly, the children of today are changing constantly because of the fast-paced environment they live in. Even when we feel we have succeeded in supplying something that meets their needs and preferences, we cannot relax as those preferences will undoubtedly drastically change next month!
How important is the educational factor in Kid’s Kits?
The Educational Factor is extremely important! Travelling, by its very nature appeals to children with foreign languages, new cultures and geographical areas of the world. The feeling of going on a journey inspires children to broaden their horizons, and it is our goal, within our amenity kits, to appease their hunger for knowledge.
How do airlines appease this ‘hunger’ across the wide range of age groups?
Well, I would like to say that across the age groups it is more or less the same. A classical, comprehensive and adequate approach. The market for onboard products are strongly developed for the child and adult categories. However, there is one important exception: Teenagers. No one has yet come up with a way to entertain teenage passengers. I see both an opportunity and challenge in trying to tackle this question.
With the teenage group being one obstacle what are the others you are faced with? Does Health & Safety feature heavily when developing goody bags for young passengers?
Sure it is always an obstacle. You need to ensure a child’s safety, but you also need to take the comfort and safety of his or her parents, and other passengers into consideration. On top of this, we need to remember that the property of the airline you are working with is also a priority. Creating an entertaining kit whilst trying to get all those interests balanced is always a challenge.
So, have you found any solutions to the ‘awkward age’ dilemma?
We continue to rely on focus groups and our own expertise, experience and intuition. Focus groups, however, require substantial resources, and this can be tricky due to budgeting restraints. Currently the AK-Service is actively developing a line to capture this line.
AK-Service have been providing Onboard Amenities to Russian and CIS-Country Airlines for over 20 years, designing and producing quality products that they put onboard Russia’s leading airlines. This has put AK-Service on the map, as they develop kits for more and more Airlines across Russia, CIS countries and spreading into the rest of Europe.