For many of the world’s airlines, Covid-19 has been nothing short of a devastating blow; however, for some, it also presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to level the playing field, step up to the mark and lead the industry into uncharted territory.
As the tide is turning on Covid-19 and most countries are getting a handle on the pandemic, there has been time for reflection for personal wellbeing both physically and psychologically. Many people have shifted their values towards brands that put their health and wellbeing first. They are searching for signs of reassurance, safety, and personal security within the industry.
We are already seeing an industry-wide shift to new sanitation standards or travel protocols and airlines are being judged by consumers on their ability to communicate their approach – its already clear that some airlines will adapt better than others. At a time when Air traffic is a fraction of pre-COVID numbers, the stakes are now higher than ever.
This is a wide-open opportunity to step into the spotlight and create the formative synapses of a new and improved flying experience.
Post-lockdown, technology, and innovation on the ground will accelerate quickly and proliferate new safety norms that will become expected in the air. Passengers will be on the lookout for progressive change from the airlines.
Without confidence in the airline industry’s ability to position itself long-term, we are seeing airlines struggle to justify the value of longer-term cabin innovations. More conservative airlines are waiting to see what the ‘bounce-back’ will look like and how passengers respond to flying post-COVID before spending money that the airline is holding on to.
However, with razor-sharp focus, those visionary airlines can see how they must adapt for the future to succeed. For these niche few, this is a wide-open opportunity to step into the spotlight and create the formative synapses of a new and improved flying experience.
Building better ways forward through design thinking.
We’ve been here before. Even in recent memory, almost everyone can recall SARS, Swine Flu, Ebola, and now COVID-19. As a species, we are vulnerable to infectious disease. While we have limited control over this, we have learned how to control the rate of infection, but with the economic and humanitarian devastation that ensues.
Social distancing may have helped us to ‘flatten the curve’ of the pandemic, it is an undeniably simplistic yet economically devastating means of halting the spread of any infectious disease. This being especially true for the airline industry – a business model built on densification and price.
However, to respond with resonance to this very human problem, businesses must adopt a healthcare focus - a view supported by business consultancy Accenture who’s Chief Executive was recently quoted saying “We used to say every business will be a digital business, but today we say every business will be a health business.”
To respond with resonance to this very human problem, businesses must adopt a healthcare focus.
Over the past century, Teague has worked cross-industry with the world’s leading aviation, mobility, and technology brands to solve complex problems. If we approach COVID-19 as a design problem, we will uncover innovative ways to apply Design Thinking and human-centered design principles to resolve the new wave of issues presented by this pandemic. It’s an exciting and daunting time, however, we are using advanced design tools to help many enterprises currently impacted – including airlines – to identify and validate key areas of focus, solution implementation time frames, and helping them model the effect of implementation strategies across every metric of their organization.
Many of these forward-thinking ‘visionary’ companies – especially those concerned with a role of mass transit and crowd management – see this pivot not only as a humanitarian responsibility but as an opportunity to build a deeper, long-lasting connection with their customers by proving their desire and commitment to protect them from an invisible threat long-term.
Teague is helping businesses to empower their employees and customers to interact with the world and each other with vastly improved hygiene and sanitation standards through design, planning and investment. Not surprisingly, we are looking to the healthcare industry for inspiration.
Seeking inspiration from outside the aviation industry.
Part of Teague’s strategy was to focus on analogous research of healthcare businesses as these resonated with airlines the most – as the pandemic has shined a spotlight on the numerous occupational parallels. Healthcare environments deal with similarly hazardous volumes, densities, cultures, with cross-sections of people in waiting rooms, hospital wards, and operating theatres. There are other parallels too – doctors, like pilots, have a highly skilled and life-critical occupation utilizing specialized and highly regulated equipment, and just like nurses, cabin crew is trained to look after the people that reside albeit briefly in their care.
Of particular relevance, however, are two specialty areas of healthcare expertise that will prove business-critical to airlines: designing for anxiety and also designing for cleanliness. Within the healthcare industry health practitioners have been using behavioral tactics to help reduce anxiety in their patients for decades, it’s this background that helped us carve out a new Clean Design framework for airlines.