Amenties Magazine caught up with Kaelis CEO Federico Heitz to hear his thoughts about the exciting onboard amenity market
When was Kaelis established and what brought Kaelis into the onboard amenities industry?
Kaelis was established in 1997. We entered the onboard services market in 2007, so we have been more than 10 years working on improving travel experience. Today, we serve over 100 airlines in more than 55 countries, reaching 1 billion passengers every year. Amenities is of course a big part of the onboard service experience and products. We provide the full range of amenities, from Kids kits, economy, premium economy, business, first class to overnight and pilgrimage kits.
This year, it was the first time we presented amenities to the Travel Plus awards and were very successful having won the Best Economy Class amenity in the world.
What is the most significant change you have seen in the amenities market over the past 10 years?
Over the last decade, we have seen lots of innovations in the amenity market. For example: making a collection of amenities, so passengers do not get the same amenity for three years, having a different model for men and women, the inclusion of more items, etc. The most significant one in my opinion is the creation of men/women sets. Although, still to come the differentiation of men and women amenity content.
What do you think the future of onboard amenities should be?
I see a trend of airlines wanting to improve the travel experience of the premium class passenger, the gap with the economy class passenger is widening and the amenity kit is a big part of it. Therefore, I see the airlines caring and investing more and more in this strategy. This is also crucial in order to have a differential advantage when competing with the LCCs.
What are you most proud of?
Businesswise, I am most proud of the fantastic team that we have in Kaelis, and also of the trust and recognition that Kaelis has established with its customers and stakeholders. I´m proud of the fact that one billion passengers (users) every year have access to Kaelis’ products.
Kaelis often works with exciting, young brands – how do you ensure you stay at the forefront of the market?
Passengers are tired of always having the same “mainstream” brands everywhere. There are fantastic brands that have not been used on board yet or very seldom, and that have a lot of value to add. There are also new products being included in the amenities like for example, Better Air, the only probiotic for the air, that is exclusively distributed for airlines by Kaelis.
Are airlines changing their needs and requests to you, the supplier?
As I said, many airlines that were not giving much importance to the amenities, and in fact to the whole premium experience are seeing now that they want to upgrade the level of service, and their requests change accordingly. They are also looking for new designs and brands that don´t have that “same old” feeling.
Passenger needs seem to evolve very quickly – do you think airlines are doing enough to keep up?
Talking about “airlines” as a whole could be misleading. We work with over 100 of them and you have very different mindsets and focuses in this industry. Definitely, the “top performers” are doing a lot to keep up with passenger needs. Transformation plans of legacy carriers focused in maximising not only profitability but NPS scores are a great example. Including tying NPS results to executives´ bonuses.
What are your thoughts on Airline’s move to allow Economy Class passengers to ‘purchase’ First or Business Class amenity kits during their journey?
Ancillary revenue is definitely something all airlines must focus one, there is no question about that. On the other hand, the First and Business Class amenity is a huge part of the experience, and also reflects the exclusivity of traveling in a premium cabin. Giving Economy Class passengers access to it even if it is purchased, could undermine that premiumness. I guess it depends on the airline, for some it might make sense, for others is definitely a no go.
THE PERSONAL TOUCH
What is your favourite city?
My favourite city is definitely London. First, that´s were I met my wife. Secondly, there is no other city as cosmopolitan and diverse as London. The gastronomical and cultural offer is amazing. I really feel I am in the center of the world when I visit it.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Brazil. I love its nature, its people and its music.
Favourite on-board tipple?
A good white wine, if the temperature is right.
What are your ‘travel essentials’?
Noise cancelling headphones, my Kindle and comfortable clothing.
How do you like to pass the time when onboard?
Like everybody else: foodtainment. LOL. Jokes apart: Reading books, watching movies, sampling the food and beverage available onboard, observing on how the airline/caterer present things and the service.