Julien Sivan and Celine Braems are two French entrepreneurs emerging from the world of e-commerce and digitalization. In January 2017, they created their app, SKYdeals. As making use of inflight roaming becoming more and more available, they provide a platform where the brands can offer limited and exclusive sales to targeted customers. Their objective? To reinvent travel retail.

 

Which advantages does your application offer to your partners compared to what already exists? Are you a digitalization of the paper catalogue than can already be found on flights?

We are a marketplace dedicated to flying passengers. The difference with our service is that we have limited offers, with discounts made by brands. For example, if you are a kitesurf instructor in Punta Cana, you will be able to propose lessons at a discounted price, targeting men under 50. Or, as a marketing director of a fashion brand, you can organize a private sale for women traveling from Asia to Europe. We offer three kinds of what we like to call “inflight shoppertainment”

Fly-over sales: for example, an announcement is made that the flight will go over Australia in 30 minutes. During that time, services and products in context with Australia are offered. Those sales are exciting as they are a limited and surprise offer during the trip.

Group sales: If 10 passengers buy the same product, they get a discount.

Flash sales: throughout the flight, several limited sales keep the passengers expecting.

Whatever we sell, the goal is to give the passenger products that he will find nowhere else at this price.

 

Your application requires inflight roaming. Isn’t the market too restrictive yet?

We are indeed in a growing market. The offer for inflight roaming is still minor. Around 40% of long-haul flights are currently equipped. Inflight Internet is very developed in the United States, same for Asia and the Middle East. Europe is currently very late but there is a strong ambition from companies such as Air France, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and British Airways to have fleets that are 100% connected. For now, only about 3 or 4 flights are equipped at Air France. In Europe, the passengers are not used to being connected by flying. We must wait for them to develop that need. At SKYdeals, we are convinced that inflight roaming will create new services.

 

So you are essentially targeting long-haul flights?

Not necessarily. We do not have the results yet but we think that medium-haul might be more interesting. It is easier to get the attention of passengers, whereas in a long-haul flight they usually want to sleep or watch a movie.

 

How does the passenger come across your offers, without the flight crew acting as voice brokers like they used to?

Our service is available for free. If Wi-Fi has a fee in the flight, we take care of the cost. We make sure that SKYdeals is accessible on the in-flight entertainment (IFE) portal. As for the promotion of our service, our partnership with the companies usually include that the flight crew make an announcement before the flight to acknowledge our presence onboard. We also have a video that can be played before showing a movie for example.

 

 

But some companies like Finnair with Nordic Sky, already offer shopping services in their IFE. How do you differentiate?

SKYdeals is really about private and limited sales. We will never have a permanent catalogue. We are dedicated in changing our offers every day so that you never have the same inflight shopping experience.

We are not trying to digitalize cabin catalogues. We want to recreate what was still available a few years ago in duty free shops. You could still find exclusive offers at interesting prices in airports. But with Internet, travel retail is not as exciting as it used to be. With SKYdeals, we try to recreate that privilege flying passengers had. Because you are in a closed environment, we can offer you specific products that are more advantageous than in an airport.

The same goes for services. We are not planning on having an extensive catalogue but very few offers that are at the best price. By using our app, service providers eliminate any competition that would exist in a hotel or a travel agency.

 

Recently there were concerns in the United States coming from consumers that personal data could influence the price of a flight. Are you also going in that direction?

We think it is bound to happen. Actually we are currently planning a test flight with a low-cost company where customers using our services could get their ticket sponsored by our partner brands. The whole price you paid for your flight could be covered by your inflight shopping.

We would introduce a “SKYdeals” rate where the passenger completely to get its personal data used during the flight. The consumer could then imagine paying back its flight by buying a hotel stay or an excursion. We are not doing it yet but we plan on sending a mail before the flight with the offers that will be available, so the passenger would know if he/she will get accommodation offers, so he/she does not have to travel without knowing if he/she will have a place to stay.

In the long run, SKYdeals could become the first “free” airline.