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In-flight announcements: keeping your in-flight audio inclusive, keeps your passengers all ears

Keeping your in-flight announcements inclusive

Every international company faces a similar challenge: with customers of varying races, religions, and cultural characteristics, how do they maintain positive multicultural interactions while delivering quality customer experiences (CX)?

But in aviation - boy, are we at the business end of that conundrum.

As we welcome all aboard, we welcome a diversity of experiences, expectations, and levels of excitement - or antipathy. And we have to deliver for everyone on every flight. For example, a single flight on Emirates may have up to 20 different nationalities and 12 different languages. (Simple Flying, May 2022)

As Abdulkadir Demirtaş, Customer Experience Manager, IGA Istanbul Airport, states: "There is no room for a "one size fits all strategy" anymore."

Passengers now value airlines, quite rightly, beyond the product or service they deliver in a literal sense, but increasingly with the emotional or personal relationship they build with the brand they choose.

Too right too!

Old notions of what CX means in influencing buying decisions have been replaced by a little thing called… empathy.

And if one note in your passenger experience is out of tune with the values you claim as yours, your brand will be called out. The risks of exclusivity are real. Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don't focus on customers - or, perhaps, focus only on some of them.

And that's why in-flight announcements are a compelling and compulsory addition to note-perfect passenger experience (PAXEx).

Read on for details of how aviation embraces inclusivity across various aspects of the passenger experience and how your in-flight audio is crucial to achieving it.

77% of consumers say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life - Cision

Happy or Not, Here I Come: why passenger experience counts

A jaw-dropping 77% of consumers say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.

If a passenger has had a poor customer journey (literally!) to the point of embarkation, your in-flight audio could be music to their ears - if it’s positioned correctly.

That's why the entire passenger experience - from discovery to the point of sale, check in and boarding - must deliver more on 'Woo' and less on 'Woe.'

Back to empathy - if your passengers don't feel you really get them, that you've understood their needs, then - aside from embarking the aircraft - you're unlikely to get them on board.

Let's get into how to help your passengers be happy by cultivating an inclusive and enjoyable passenger experience throughout their customer journey: from booking, to airport, to in-flight audio content.

First: what is inclusivity?

Inclusivity is the opposite of exclusivity. Ok, a no-brainer. But what that means is that an inclusive passenger experience is about everyone. No one is excluded. Wheelchair passengers, passengers with pushchairs, younger, older, and of all nationalities: no space or journey should make any passenger feel 'othered'.

Access to everything for all is the mantra: never allowing a lack of organisational empathy - from airport experience, to the announcements passengers hear - to exclude anyone.

What are the risks of exclusivity?

IATA states that travel is changing: that there is "a geographic reshuffling of world air traffic to the East”. In other words, air travel is becoming more pluralistic, with a changing - more international - demographic than ever before.

Where we might have fumbled through passengers’ language barriers in the past, more than ever, we risk excluding passengers by assuming they understand. Travel can be a stressful experience even without the confusion, even fear, of not being able to get the information you need because you can’t understand airport signage, or what the pre-recorded announcements are telling you.

Missed flights maybe, missed opportunities to connect: definitely.

Woman passenger tries to find her flight on an airport message board with her passport in hand

Take JFK, Terminal 4. Typically, more than 21 million passengers pass through the terminal. 65% of these passengers are from outside the US.

Travellers are multilingual: translation services across all airlines and airports’ comms have never been so important.

And exclusivity risks missing opportunities that impact people's lives and your bottom line.

It's telling that before the pandemic, the country which received the inaugural 'Accessible Tourist Destination' from the UNWTO was Portugal. Who, in the year prior, received 41% of its GDP from travel and tourism.

We think they might be onto something.

As UNWTO states: "The travel & tourism industries should see travellers with specific access requirements as a great economic opportunity for them to stay afloat and make their businesses flourish again."

While creating an inclusive and accessible experience for all makes business sense, it also keeps folks happy and is, frankly, the right thing to do.


Aviation Inclusivity: opportunities and innovations

The sky's the limit when it comes to empathetic adaptations to our airports and attitudes to inclusivity and diversity.

Innovations in inclusivity

  • Virgin Atlantic: After their individuality-themed ad - yeah, that one - which pulled a beautiful 180 on the homogeneity of uniform, hairstyle and - sigh - heel-height of the cabin crew cookie-cutter look of the past, Virgin Atlantic followed up their inclusivity in late 2022. It announced its crews could wear the uniform of their choice no matter what their gender, gender identity or gender expression. We’re cheering from the stands.

  • Loud Steps from Istanbul Airport: Directions and the ability to get information independently allow passengers to travel independently and confidently. Istanbul Airport is listening. They've introduced step-by-step indoor navigation with voice instructions - via a mobile app for all its passengers.

Opportunities to improve on inclusivity

According to a survey by Forbes Insights, 65% of senior executives said recruitment of diverse employees was their top priority - and multiple studies back up why.

A Gartner report on diversity indicated that through 2022, 75% of businesses with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will have exceeded their financial targets. The report also revealed that gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams by 50% on average.

Yet women are still vastly under-represented in the leading positions at airlines, holding just 14% of senior executive roles, with only 6% of CEO and COO roles being female across the top 100 airlines globally, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) 2022 data. And 2021 stats from the US show that over 90% of professional pilots were white males.

Diversity in your team more readily connects your brand with customers. According to a Harvard Business Review report, if just one team member has traits in common with the customer, the entire team is 152% more likely to understand the customer.

No shock really: a diverse team is more empathetic to a broader passenger demographic - and this will feed into more inclusive brand communications across your marketing and including your in-flight announcements.

The lessons here?

Customer experience execution is about creating positive emotions and getting connected - strengthening the emotional bond between the passenger and the airport or airline.

Not to get too soppy, but all passengers look for positive and meaningful human experiences at airports. And they deserve them.

Empathy above exclusivity again: Hear, Hear!

In-flight announcements keep the inclusivity conversation going

In-flight announcements keep the inclusivity conversation going

Everyone is a passenger. And every single person on the planet speaks a different language. It's true! There are 7,100 recognised languages worldwide, but a myriad of sociolects, dialects, idiolects and accents exist beneath that.

Despite this beautiful cacophony of individuality, your aim should be empathy with all… enabling anyone on board to understand your in-flight audio.

A feat, yes. But aviation audio is taking on the challenge. Here's how.

Modes of address

Headline: they matter.

"Language is extremely important to the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community, and the way we use it can help ensure all people feel included," explains LGBTQ+ charity, Stonewall.

Air Canada became the first major airline to use gender-neutral greetings in October 2019, adopting "everyone" instead of "ladies and gentlemen". BA followed suit in 2021 using the term 'guests', saying: "We celebrate diversity and inclusion, and we're committed to ensuring that all our customers feel welcome when travelling with us."

Although unlike many others, the English language has gender-neutral articles and many gender-unspecific nouns, the linguistic default tends to use language with gender bias in honorifics and pronouns. Virgin Atlantic acknowledged the risk to inclusivity this posed and introduced optional pronoun badges for crew and passengers last year. Gender-neutral 'U' or 'X' codes are also available on the airline's booking system along with the title 'Mx.'

Multilingual Communication

Doing what we do at Nuntiare Media shows daily the value of multilingual communication - creating a greater connection between people and offering a level of inclusivity that enhances how we interact with brands and companies.

On many flights, you might hear three languages: the language of departure and destination - with English commonly used as a lingua franca. (Aviation English is also used for critical communications between pilots, air traffic control and other air workers.)

The translation challenge is real! And one we're acutely aware of. Russian, for example, has only 200,000 words compared to English's one million, so many words carry more than one meaning!

Nuance and knowledge are therefore essential when creating empathetic and engaging pre-recorded in-flight audio content for all.

Passenger-centric = pitch-perfect

Passengers are more than profit; they're our passion: you and us; they're everyone. That's why they should be aviation's collective obsession. Starting with each note of the potential passenger experience - in all its multiplicity - we can create a beautiful, harmonious and inclusive world to fly in.

Where everyone understands, and everyone feels understood.

Your in-flight announcements must engage ALL passengers, regardless of age, gender or nationality. And you can amplify your airline's values on diversity and inclusivity through announcements that are in tune with your passengers.

Learn how Nuntiare Media's innovative and inclusive in-flight audio can elevate your passengers' experience, deliver seamless CX and forge lasting relationships between your airline and those you choose to fly with.

Empathy above exclusivity = it's taken off, and we can't wait to see where it takes us.

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