In January 2009, BMW Group DesignworksUSA and AirAsia X embarked on a journey to redefine the meaning of air travel. Traveling has become an essential mode of transport around the world, but most people regard their flights to and from the destination as a hurdle to overcome. The main objective of the project was to create fuss-free and novel travel experiences as tangible brand shaping stories, and to identify new growth opportunities for the company.
By travelling incognito as passengers of AirAsia X, the DesignworksUSA designers observed all elements of travel - from check-in to arrival - and collected raw data which was creatively transformed into a toolkit of ideas to inspire innovation within the management team. "DesignworksUSA designers are trained to translate unmet needs and opportunities immediately into a new concepts for customer experience and visionary product and services ideas," said Laurenz Schaffer, BMW Group DesignworksUSA President. "The opportunity to work with AirAsia X was a perfect fit with our ability and desire to create an engaging travel experience."
Observation to Opportunities
To kick start the creative process, the designers immersed themselves into an AirAsia X travel experience: from making travel plans and booking tickets online, check-in and boarding, to in-flight entertainment and services, flight connections and finally, arrival. "Our design teams focused on the full journey and experience of air travel rather than just the aesthetics," explained Magnus Aspegren, Director of DesignworksUSA's Singapore Studio. "Our designers then recreated these observations into rough sketches which explored potential ways to create a more empowering experience for passengers." This canvas of multiple ideas was then brought to life in the studio through a series of brainstorming sessions by a multi-disciplinary team of designers.
Inspirational Idea Kit
The raw inspirational sketches were developed into seven groups of opportunity areas, which were later transformed into a tangible idea kit. Contained in this kit are 150 cards of inspirational sketch images and descriptive ideas designed to serve as a continuous reference to stimulate thoughts and discussions for the AirAsia X management team. These opportunity areas highlight new avenues that would allow passengers to interpret and recreate the AirAsia X brand story into their own. This holistic, user-centric approach formed the foundation for extending the AirAsia X brand experience into seven key groups of opportunity areas - Seat 360, Service Essentials, X-Retail, X- Series, Budget Experts, and Asian Pride. Inspired by the idea kit, an initial outcome of the project resulted in a graphic visualization of the AirAsia X brand in the cabin interior.
Together with AirAsia X, DesignworksUSA created a new paradigm for low cost carriers. New areas of value added services and products that passengers can actively engage in becomes part of the essential revenue model. "DesignworksUSA was able to take the core beliefs of AirAsia X in constant innovation and enjoyment and expand them into tangible solutions that have helped to inspire our team." said Azran Osman-rani, CEO of AirAsia X. The creative experts aimed to transform that mindset of regarding flights as a transition state to an integrated part of their journey that is enjoyable and memorable right from planning to the transition into new destinations.