Month: February 2014

Are Wearables About To Take Off?

Have you ever felt nostalgic for the good old days when trans-Atlantic air travel was the height of sophistication? Probably not if you’re a Millennial like myself, since you’ve never lived in an era when airlines were considered futuristic and exclusive.

Recently, a major global study was published that surveyed 10K airline passengers on their opinions of the future of air travel. Needless to say, the results of the study proved that airline passengers feel that flying has become less glamorous over time and is a decreasingly enjoyable experience.

This is an obvious problem for Virgin Atlantic, who prides itself in its ability to push the boundaries and provide fun experiences to its customers. Thus, as a response to the study results, Virgin Atlantic announced today that it will be implementing a six-week trial program at London’s Heathrow Airport that equips its concierge employees with wearable Google Glass.

Essentially, if you are one of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class flyers (equivalent to business class travelers), you will be greeted by name by a Glass-clad concierge upon exiting your car at Heathrow and subsequently taken on a completely customized journey through check-in. The experience will include flight/weather updates, a list of local events at your destination, and the ability to submit specific in-flight dietary and refreshment preferences. Moreover, for non-English speakers, foreign language translation will be available as well.

If Virgin Atlantic’s Google Glass test at Heathrow proves successful, the airline has disclosed that it will consider a wider roll-out to its other destinations.

Photo credit: Virgin Atlantic

To put this new program in perspective, this means that over the course of my Millennial lifetime, Virgin Atlantic has gone from being the first airline to install televisions on board its aircrafts in the 80’s to being the first to bring intelligent tech wearables into its customer experience in 2014! Very impressive for a company in the time-honored airline business.

It is a fact that when you are an airline company, you are a commoditized service. Your passengers pay you to get from point A to point B safely and efficiently – and they have a lot of options. Customer service is the only way to differentiate yourself, and Virgin Atlantic has introduced an opportunity to yet again break out from the pack.

Coming out of CES this past January, wearable technology was officially deemed one of the next big things to watch. Currently Google Glass is not available to the general public, thus making Virgin Atlantic’s message clear:  “Check out how cool we are!” With Virgin Atlantic positioning itself as the customer-centric pioneer (yet again) in its industry, I’m interested to see if companies in other industries start bringing wearables into their consumer experience. Only time will tell!

Photo Credit:  Virgin Atlantic