On this Lufthansa flight, dmexco will begin over the East River
On their way to dmexco, the passengers on flight LH 405 from New York to Cologne will be treated to a very special program: dmexco speakers will give exclusive talks on board about the theme of digitalization. In this interview, Torsten Wingenter, Senior Director of Digital Innovations at Lufthansa Airlines, talks about his new preconferencing program, which will be taking place on a flight from the USA to Germany for the first time. He also shares his views about the future of flying.
A conference high above the clouds — how will the passengers experience it, and what goals do you have for it?
Digitalization is a theme that is difficult to comprehend, but it plays a decisive role in many people’s daily lives, at the private and especially at the professional level. Through our FlyingLab we’re making digitalization visible and tangible. Through their talks, the speakers inspire people and open up new horizons. This is a further free offer for our passengers, and it’s independent of their booking class. As a premium airline, we want to provide our passengers with more than just a safe flight from A to B. This will be a unique travel experience. For the participants, dmexco 2017 will already begin shortly after they’ve flown over the East River, rather than after they’ve reached the Rhine.
What benefits will the FlyingLab bring to the Lufthansa brand?
Lufthansa is the first airline in the world to offer this kind of live conference on board an airplane at an altitude of 10,000 meters. We’re using it to demonstrate the innovative strength of our brand. Over the long term, the FlyingLab could become a commercial product that we offer to companies for their flights to trade fairs, conferences, and other events. Every FlyingLab has a motto, which ideally is related to the theme of an event that will be happening at the plane’s destination. We’d like to get the passengers in the mood for this event while they’re still traveling toward it, and to give them the opportunity to do some networking with like-minded people and with the speakers. A Lufthansa FlyingLab inspires people and makes an aspect of the future visible. After all, our core brand message is “Enriching Travel Experiences.” Is there a better example of that than a FlyingLab?
You’ve already organized FlyingLabs to New York for Fashion Week and to Austin for the tech festival South by Southwest. Now you’re going in the other direction for the first time, from the USA to Germany, for dmexco. What will the passengers from the USA experience there? How will they be prepared for dmexco?
The theme that connects all of our FlyingLabs is the impact of digitalization on every area of our lives. The central theme of dmexco is the digital economy, and thus the two themes are a perfect match. On board flight LH 405, dmexco founder Christian Muche will host a program involving five speakers. All the speakers are part of the official conference program, and they will give our passengers exclusive insights into their theme worlds as all of them fly high above the Atlantic.
How do you generate innovations at Lufthansa? How can a flight be enriched with additional experiences?
Lufthansa’s business operations continue to consist of bringing you safely from A to B, but digital services can make flying simpler and more pleasant, from the planning phase to the actual journey. We want to offer our customers enriched digital experiences along the entire travel chain. We orient these activities along the lines of startups: We launch a prototype on the market and then look at the feedback we get from our customers. Our best-price chatbot Mildred is a good example of that. With the knowledge we’ve gained, we will now successively expand the range of bots we offer.