After ten years and more than 4,300 planes installed it is safe to say that the FlightPath3D offering is far more than just a moving map platform. And if you make that mistake in a conversation with company president Duncan Jackson he’ll waste no time in correcting you that the company is “an augmented reality travel journey platform, with all your destinations in 3D.” With a mature offering across multiple channels (including some outside the aircraft), FlightPath3D sees a strong future ahead.
We’re the travel journey platform. We’re delivering that inspiration on [an airline] website, in the companion app, in the portal, and on the seatback.– Duncan Jackson, President, FlightPath3D
Perhaps most notable in the company’s evolution is its pivot to video. Jackson is not shy about just how compelling he believes it is, describing it as “arguably better than TripAdvisor from an inspiration point of view.”
And while a pivot to video has not always delivered eyeballs and profits (Thanks, Facebook!), FlightPath3D’s version is delivering stickiness and engagement that have its airline customers beyond excited with opportunities. Specific numbers are not yet released, but Jackson is clear the Destination Reels offering exceeded expectations at launch customer Southwest Airlines by a notable margin.
He further explains:
We’ve had destination content and Points of Interest (POIs) live since 2018 and now it is playing on 50 Airlines. But what we recognized over the past five years is that the prevalent platform for travel inspiration is no longer Google and TripAdvisor. It’s TikTok. It has short form video content, highly swipe-able and snackable information that’s immersive. So we evolved to build video points of interest that is our new destination reels product. So it’s still the points of interest concept we introduced in 2017, but it’s also an immersive video platform.
Engagement is critical for any platform like this. It is the first step towards monetization for the airline. But having a plan for what comes after the initial engagement is far more important. FlightPath3D is ready to deliver on that now as well.
Paid placements for advertisers mixed in to the native content is one option FlightPath3D has in its arsenal. But the company must be careful to not overplay that move. As services become more obviously ad-driven users eventually notice, destroying the hard-earned engagement value in a hurry.
Another revenue stream comes from enabling bookings for tours or restaurants at a destination. Driving those bookings during a flight, however, is a secondary consideration for FlightPath3D. Delivering future travel bookings to the airline is a much bigger prize. And it is one Jackson is squarely focused on today.
“Job one was to put advertising in the feed,” Jackson explains. “We’ve knocked that out of the park. Job two is to understand the data. We see more value on monetization for the airline to understand where their customers are looking to fly, what are the trending destinations and city pairs. We’ve started pulling that sort of data from our flight map and schedules product that’s already flying on Air Canada. That’s an early phase of monetization on the airline side, enabling future bookings.”
Part of that sales push comes as direct engagement with passengers on board, via personal devices or the in-seat screens. But FlightPath3D also sees opportunities across shared experiences, whether on planes or on the ground.
On-board digital displays are a prime candidate for better advertising services. Jackson is very keen on that potential, at least for some airlines. “We can deliver targeted route marketing to the digital displays,” he explains. “Instead of only showing details about the current route being flown, it’s showing specific types of content for an airline’s destinations. We can pump that through the IFE system, tied to the places they fly to because we also see the flight schedule.”
Maybe it comes in the form of pushing vacation travel destinations on a route dominated by business travelers. Or providing inspiration for that next vacation destination while on the way to a beach paradise. By blending the data airlines aggregate about their customers with trends FlightPath3D is tracking across all its customers, the company believes it can deliver outsized value as a destination and ticket marketing platform.
This does depend on digital displays becoming more common on board, however, to provide a surface for the pitches. Whether it is the AERQ Welcome Board concept or something else, the system is ready to shine in flight.
Most travelers don’t look to airports for travel destination information. But perhaps that’s because the airports are not very good about providing the necessary inspiration. FlightPath3D is also on a mission to change that.
The destination mapping functionality is well suited to airports, similar to the airline implementations. Inspiration snippets can be displayed for all the markets served. And, perhaps most importantly, the site can deliver direct links to operating airlines to help drive ticket sales.
This is not just a theoretical offering. FlightPath3D is delivering it today for Heathrow and the Houston airports. Other deployments are in the works.
Blending the data and content to deliver real ancillary revenue value to airlines is not a trivial task. And while many companies talk about how they’ll optimize those offerings at some point in the future, far fewer are delivering on it today. The moving map display remains a major touchpoint for passengers and a key opportunity to deliver that value. With its suite of mature (and also still evolving) offerings developed over the past decade, FlightPath3D sits firmly among the leaders in this space.
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