July 25, 2024

Tech Talk: Jean-Marc Thomas of Spafax

Jean-Marc Thomas, Managing Director – APAC at Spafax, talks with Stuart Forster, Technology and Retail Editor at Onboard Hospitality.

Stuart Forster (SF): How was 2024’s AIX for Spafax?

Jean-Marc Thomas (JMT): It’s been very busy, it’s been very good for us.

I think over the years we’ve seen more and more engagement from the airlines. Even though it’s quite a technical trade show, I think people are more and more interested in the whole concept and whole packages – so not just new connectivity but everything that goes with it.

SF: What are you conveying to potential or existing clients this year?

JMT: We’ve been improving some of our tools, especially in terms of reporting. A lot of different people are providing more or less the same things and within a fleet, sometimes you’re going to have different providers.

We have tools and platforms that help companies gather data. Then the airlines understand what’s going on instead of receiving three or four different reports: I think it’s been a bit of a headache for some of the airlines that have large fleets to put things together.

We’re pushing these products right now, where we feel it’s helpful for everybody. Not just the airlines but how we can strategise a bit more now we have this data available.

Because we have this with a couple of airlines, we’ve been managing to improve and evolve the product in itself.

SF: Has the industry recovered from the pandemic?

JMT: I’m based in Asia, the last region to recover from the pandemic. I think people in Europe in the US did not see that the pandemic took a big hit on the airlines and countries in Asia because it’s so fragmented. The recovery has been very hard in Asia.

China has opened up and is letting the population move around again. It’s a big chunk of the passengers and now we’re back to pre-COVID for some airlines. I think that’s great.

SF: How does that reflect for you and your company?

JMT: I think in terms of recruitment it’s been okay because we had some open positions but we were waiting for those recoveries to happen. Now it has happened we’ve been able to get the right people because we were anticipating that.

We have been able to improve some of the things that probably were not that great. We have a content acquisition manager based out of Singapore for the Asian continent. During COVID we lost that person. Now things are back to normal we have hired somebody. Everything is back on track.

SF: What trends affecting the industry are key ones to watch?

JMT: Key ones to watch, I would say, are definitely on the connectivity side. Talking for the Asian side especially, there’s a lot of airlines that are thinking about providing free Wi-Fi access and connectivity to all of the passengers, regardless the class. I think for them it’s a big step. I think this has come to fruition because now, in terms of satellites, coverage and providers, it’s much better than what it used to be a few years back.

SF: Anything else you would like to discuss?

JMT: In November we launched a platform for advertising. I think a lot of airlines are not thinking about advertising in a way that it could be an additional revenue source, not just offsetting costs.

I think it could be a very good additional revenue stream for them. Now all of this new tech is being offered to the airlines it’s going to be much faster, and it’s going to provide more flexibility in the stream of revenue to the airlines as well.