For a company like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) that is still using its original name after nearly 100 years in operation, history is incredibly important.
The airline industry as we know it did not materialize overnight, and tracing its past reveals a constant stream of innovation after groundbreaking innovation. Today, aerospace companies spend 35% of their time and effort on transformational innovation. That is more than any other industry.
Understanding that legacy of change and the inevitable forward momentum of technological advancement is one of the reasons KLM has remained relevant and dominant throughout the decades.
While harnessing the power of flight represented a huge leap forward in global human connection, KLM’s commitment to innovation shows that they are ready to learn how to fly all over again.
Real Improvement through Virtual Means
KLM and its related companies under the Air France-KLM moniker have sought to improve both their internal and client-facing experiences by taking advantage of the latest in VR innovations.
For customers, this means embracing VR headsets as a revolutionary form of in-flight entertainment. Flight is not always the most pleasant experience, but imagine being able to forget you are even sitting on a plane. That is the promise of VR.Understanding the inevitable forward momentum of technological advancement is one of the reasons KLM has remained relevant and dominant throughout the decades. Click To Tweet
While sitting in your seat, you could watch a movie at a big screen virtual movie theater, play a VR video game or explore some immersive real-world locations to pass the time.
In 2017, Air France offered VR headsets on select Airbus A340 flights with an eye toward expanding the service in the future. In addition, the new millennial-focused airline Joon, a subsidiary of Air France-KLM, also offers VR as an available upgrade for all flights (more on Joon later).
KLM has also found ways to use VR to innovate the safety training of their engineers. Partnering with Dutch VR company Warp, KLM created a new virtual training game meant to recreate the intense experience of potential aircraft maintenance hangar crises. The goal is for engineers who undergo this training to better understand how to respond in these intense situations.
Targeting Younger Markets
Flying can be frustrating when it feels as if your airline does not care about individual customers. The whole flight experience has seemingly stagnated, and as many airlines scale back their added benefits in the name of cutting costs, the novelty of flying has begun to wear off.
Air France-KLM recognized this situation, and their answer is specialization. The company recently launched a new boutique airline that caters to a younger customer-base, namely millennials.
The aforementioned Joon airline offers specialty food selections like craft beers, as well as technologically savvy offerings like WiFi and personal VR entertainment headsets.Flight is not always the most pleasant experience, but imagine being able to forget you are even sitting on a plane. That is the promise of VR. Click To Tweet
In addition, KLM has developed a personal luggage robot, which they will test in both JFK and SFO airports for a limited two-day trial this summer. While the robot may not end up being widely adopted, it neatly illustrates KLM’s willingness to try seemingly out-there ideas in the name of innovative customer experiences.
Using AI to Accelerate Innovation
Since artificial intelligence has long been poised to transform practically every industry, it should come as no surprise that KLM is joining the fray.
Over the last 18 months, KLM has partnered with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to use the groundbreaking benefits of artificial intelligence to improve nearly every facet of its operations.
In conjunction with BCG, KLM has developed an operations tool that will streamline the communication and decision-making processes of an airline’s fleet, crew, and ground services with the idea that they should be more technologically integrated, and therefore more team-oriented.
Through AI and deep learning, this new technology offers both long-term and daily operational benefits. In the end, the higher operational efficiency will translate into increased customer satisfaction as their experience is improved and their frustrations are minimized.
Fostering a Culture of Innovation
These breakthroughs, both small and large, show how dedicated KLM and its sister companies are to the idea of innovation.
KLM has survived for nearly a hundred years due to its willingness to embrace change and take risks.
Judging by the playfulness of some of their recent innovative experiments, they wholeheartedly embrace the innovation that has driven their industry from the beginning, and that will most likely lead to another hundred years of success.