Here’s What Cathay Pacific’s Customers Want The Most

Today I was sent a Cathay Pacific Insights survey that asked me a few questions about Cathay Pacific’s brand proposition. It asked me a few questions about Cathay Pacific’s own brand, before linking me to a few car brands and asking what I thought of them.

At the end of the survey, I was asked what elements of the experience Cathay Pacific should offer brand partnerships with in order to further improve their own brand. After I inputted my personal top three choices, the survey showed the results of what people ended up choosing for that question, which I found very interesting. I’m bummed that I didn’t screenshot the bar graph provided – it would’ve been really interesting to analyse – but I’m glad I took note of the top three elements that Cathay Pacific’s consumers wanted the airline to have partnerships with, which I want to share in this post.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Hong Kong Airport

What Do I Think Of Brand Partnerships?

Brand partnerships with airlines are when airline dedicates one aspect of their experience to a particular given brand. Off the top of my head, Swiss partners with Peninsula hotels in their catering department, and Finnair partners with Marimekko to offer a consistent amenities brand.

IMG_9900Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Marimekko Amenity Kit 

Objectively, brand partnerships in themselves don’t add anything to the onboard experience. However, it does show that airlines are putting a bit more effort into certain elements of the experience (as, say, if an airline meal was below par, it would be damaging to a much more prestigious name). When airlines invest into partnerships with other companies to offer better bedding, meals, etc., it shows that the airline is trying, and the brand gets more recognition, which is a win-win.

Cathay Pacific Consumers’ Brand Partnership Ideas

Ultimately, two of these three options were what I selected as well, so they didn’t really come as a surprise (I picked cabin design instead of seat design, though I know where those who picked seat design are coming from, too). We were given around 10-12 elements to choose from – ranging from inflight amenities, to lounge design, to hotels/accommodation packages, etc., and here were the top three things that passengers wanted Cathay Pacific to find partnerships with.

The first thing that came up was Cathay Pacific’s inflight amenities, which 51% of survey responders picked. Personally I feel like Cathay Pacific offers amenities in business class that are fine. We’re not just talking about the amenity kit, which I have no problem with, but also with bedding, etc.. While Cathay Pacific’s current duvets are fine and perfectly plush, they’d definitely benefit from a mattress pad, or from a plusher pillow. Cathay Pacific currently offers socks, which are perfectly fine, though personally I’d prefer slippers. I’d also prefer if Cathay Pacific partnered with a headphone company, though I’ve heard that they upgraded their headphone quality quite substantially in the meantime.

I don’t remember the last time I’ve taken Cathay Pacific in economy, though I don’t remember getting an amenity kit at all, so they’d benefit from that. I also think that Cathay Pacific could invest in a bedding partnership that carries on to economy class, so they’d get less scratchy blankets on longhaul flights. This is a list of things that Cathay Pacific could pretty easily improve with a brand partnership. That said, I can name airlines off the top of my head that have worse amenities, so personally this wasn’t my top choice.

IMG_6408.jpgCathay Pacific Business Class Amenity Kit

The second thing that consumers picked was Cathay Pacific’s inflight catering. 48% of survey responders wanted Cathay Pacific to find brand partnerships for their inflight catering, which I totally get. The thing with Cathay Pacific’s inflight catering is that their meals are, for the most part, pretty good. They’re just plated in china “tubs” that don’t give them much more flexibility than they’d otherwise have plating up an economy dish. Earlier they trialed dine-on-demand, which allowed the elements of each dish to be plated a little bit better, though was an absolute flop with the extra number of moving elements that were introduced.

With a little brand partnership behind them Cathay Pacific would hopefully be able to work with better plating. I’m not even talking partnerships to improve the food itself, though rather with dinerware companies that would give them more plating flexibility, and training that would allow flight attendants to plate dishes in business class better in a shorter amount of time. I know that sounds stupid in practice, though the below risotto would look that much better if the flight attendants could take 30 seconds to spoon the risotto onto a circular plate and lay the shrimp on top. Sure, my culinary standards are high, though I’m not sure how much harder that is compared to making a cutesy pepper display that just looks awkward in comparison.

IMG_0220Sometimes Cathay Pacific pulls some awesome dishes out of nowhere, but a majority of Cathay Pacific’s dishes are pretty good, but not great, especially in business class

The last thing that was picked was seat design by 47% of responders. I know that Cathay Pacific’s latest seats have had a lot of defects, though personally I believe the seat design in itself is fine. What I don’t like, however, is the sterility of Cathay Pacific’s designs. While Cathay Pacific’s first class is designed pretty nicely, I just feel like not bringing their Studiolise lounge design concept into their A350 cabins was a bit of a lost opportunity.

I’m not expecting warm, China Airlines-esque cabins, though rather somewhat of a brighter palate with more efficient use of mood lighting (off the top of my head I’d rather brighter green finishes than a dull green palate, though I’m sure these brands would be able to come up with much better designs than I possibly could). I’ve written about their four design “pillars”, and none of them seem to be carrying over into their seat design. The mood lighting would carry over into economy – the green and black colour palate would potentially work with a bit of mood lighting, which Cathay Pacific never actually seems to use in economy class.

IMG_0593Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class Seat

Bottom Line

I appreciated the survey that Cathay Pacific sent out. It showed that Cathay Pacific wanted to show everyone that they cared about what they were perceived as, without trying to be a people-pleaser. Cathay Pacific definitely has a lot of room for improvement on the branding front, as they’ve gone from a leading brand image to somewhat of a mid-line brand image, while the likes of Singapore Airlines, the Virgin group, and the Middle Eastern carriers have crept ahead.

I’m flying Cathay Pacific next week, and I’ll get to see what aspect of the longhaul experience Cathay Pacific desperately needs some of these partnerships on. I’m excited to see if they’ve made any effort to progress their business class product over the past few years.

What do you think Cathay Pacific should focus on?

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