In the Spotlight – Wolfgang Bucherl – Skysupply

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Amenities put Managing Director of skysupply Wolfgang Bucherl in the spotlight

When was Skysupply established and what brought Skysupply into the onboard amenities industry?

skysupply was founded in 1999. Before we supplied merchandising products since 1989 to the big industry in Europe and also Lufthansa with products for the onboard retail magazine. This was the start which brought us into the onboard amenities industry. And of course, sometimes you need also a little bit luck to be to the right time on the right place.

What is the most significant change you have seen in the amenities market over the past 10 years?

I think we have had to adapt to a number of changes in recent years which continue to be valid today. The significance of co-branding solutions and the right co-operations / The trend towards making the kits more appealing for extended use which encourages passengers to take them home and appreciate them more / And of course most recently and importantly the sharp focus on the airline CSR and guaranteeing a more sustainable range of in-flight options – all these and more have to be factored into the on board solutions we develop .

What do you think the future of amenities should be?

I believe that the extended use of giveaways on board and clearly defining the lasting appeal for an item is key to the future – there has to be significant added value and a good story and a chance to collect a series of the kits etc. – So, provenance, understanding of traditional values, and cultural appeal which relate to the airline’s origins and home country and the growing potential to use materials and design methods which make sustainability possible.

What are you most proud of?

Our ability to maintain a strong reputation and to stay valid and to still be considered a good option as a valued and credible supplier in a very busy market sector after 20 years. We are proud to be working with airlines for several years now and still retain their respect and trust. It is a privilege to have this position.

Skysupply often works with exciting, young brands – how do you ensure you stay at the forefront of the market?

We listen carefully, we act quickly, and we have a strong partnership with key suppliers to our business who are just as adaptable and nimble in their own execution and delivery. We are constantly re-evaluating what we do to see if we can do better and always looking for fresh new collaborations from clever newcomers to the market.

Are airlines changing their needs and requests to you, the supplier?

Airlines have a number of challenges and the more proactive and helpful we can be in taking away some of that workload the better. The key requirements are not fundamentally different they always want a competitively priced, practical, and efficient and timely solution with a high-quality result in terms of service levels and the products themselves doing what they are supposed to do in offering total passenger satisfaction. What is more prevalent now is the airlines interests in suppliers showing them new brands, the demand for strong messages in regard to provision of sustainable options and creating the very best PR story that can be derived from having the right choices on board. Keen prices are key of course – there is no change there so need to have rather than nice to have will always be a priority in choosing solutions.

Passenger needs seem to evolve very quickly – do you think airlines are doing enough to keep up? 

As mentioned above airlines have a difficult job to manage all the moving parts and Amenities and Comfort items are only a small element of the budget and focus internally. That said dealing in this sector is fun and with samples etc. can be a more tactile experience then managing many functions so Airlines do enjoy the discussions around new items and ideas. Our job is to show initiatives and competence in sourcing which will address passengers’ queries and concerns and enhance their experiences on board. If we do so we always make those Airline discussions very much more constructive, particularly if our actions and responses can satisfy branding, marketing, and procurement departments – which is never easy!

What are your thoughts on Airline’s move to allow Economy Class passengers to ‘purchase’ First or Business Class amenity kits during their journey?

I am a fan of what I consider to be appropriate differentiation in the cabins on board – Classes are defined and provided for a good reason which relates to offering choice and to understanding the rationale applied by passengers in deciding how to spend their own money. Do the high-end co-brands appreciate the idea to sell in Y class, do airlines really know what is the right price point, does this idea in fact dilute the significance and value of having items which clearly are a point of difference on board? It’s a challenge to predict if this is successful at present so increasing inventory and complexity is a further necessity for airlines if they go this way and it is, for me, not yet validated.

What makes Skysupply different to its competitors

As the MD, personally I am very “hands on” and try very hard to meet and respond to our airline clients and potential customers in a very direct, personal and regular way – I challenge my team to do the same with their counterparts as our company ethos is all about being pro-active, accountable, and vital as this business demands that our focus and time is always well spent and provides re-assurances to the customers we are efficient and in control of all aspects of the Tender process and beyond.  Delivering a product is not enough we have to provide competitive Supply Chain solutions and react quickly to changing market and other potentially adverse conditions so to remain credible. On top of our game we have to demonstrate expertise across the sector from design to delivery.

From Wolfgang (the personal touch)

What is your favourite city?

New York

What is your favourite holiday destination?           

Lisbon

Favourite on-board tipple?

Still water

What are your ‘travel essentials’? 

A laptop, eyeshades, and a good seat

How do you like to pass the time when onboard? 

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