Being first to market with a concept can be a daunting proposition and one riddled with opportunities for high-profile failure. At the same time, true innovators are rewarded for their bravery and foresight when the concept they’ve pioneered turns out to be one of value to the market they serve.
Forbes contributor Jerry Mc Laughlin summed it up pretty well in a 2011 article on the topic called “The importance of being first”, where he wrote: “Who flew the first plane in controlled flight? Orville and Wilbur. Who flew the second one? Don’t worry, I don’t know either … Of course it’s easier to just copy a business idea, political position, or organizational mission from someone else. But if someone else already has gotten into your prospect’s mind with the same perception you had hoped to create, you’ll find it is hard to push them out.”
In 2011, Monarch Airlines embarked on its biggest brand re-vamping initiative in nearly a decade, updating everything from liveries to inflight services and schedules (going from chartered to scheduled flights), while crafting a new brand message to position itself as a fun and modern leisure carrier with the slogan: “Fly your way. Every Day.”
agreeing a rescue deal in late 2014, and reaching revenue and cost targets post-restructuring, the airline has garnered some positive passenger experience headlines for its creative use of new IFE streaming technology (provided by UK-based AeroFi, now called Media inMotion) paired with specialized PED holders at every seat.
Now in another original move, Media inMotion and Monarch have announced the development of an app for the Apple Watch that will interface with the airline’s so-called MPlayer streaming IFE network.
Speaking last week at ARC London 2015 where the app project was announced, Martin Cunnison, CEO of Media inMotion, said the Watch app (now in final development stages) will capitalize on the fact that many passengers these days are already multi-tasking with multiple screens.
“We have this great opportunity in the aircraft cabin to provide passengers with more relevant products and services during the flight. We can ease anxieties about their journey, introduce novelty, provide quick updates and expand revenue generating options without interrupting whatever they may doing on their primary device,” he said.
When the new Apple Watch app rolls out, users will be able to order food and drinks, re-order with one touch, browse and order duty free, check flight progress, confirm destination weather and more – without missing a minute of the content they’re streaming. Future applications could include seat-to-seat chat, home delivery of purchases, smart wallet payments, device handoff and push notifications alerting passengers to special onboard retail propositions.
“This development to the MPlayer app is just another example of how Monarch is looking to lead the field in superior customer service and simplifying processes for customers and our cabin crew colleagues,” commented Ian Chambers, head of digital and online for the airline.
While a host of carriers including American Airlines, Delta, United, JetBlue, British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair (just to name a few) have either launched or signaled intent to launch Apple Watch apps – none appear to have yet attempted such an integration of Apple Watch functionality with an entertainment solution or crew systems on board.