2021 Onboard Hospitality Awards:  Technology and Sustainability categories show strong growth 


The team at AirFi is simply over the moon about winning the “Best use of Onboard Technology” category at the recent Onboard Hospitality Awards, together with our brilliant airline partner, Scoot, and strategic operations partner SATS.   

These awards are a great motivator and validation from the industry and we truly appreciate the recognition of our peers, as well as the esteemed judges, who together decided that the ScootHub solution should be this year’s category winner.   

In appreciation for this honour, we thought it would be fun to turn the spotlight back toward Onboard Hospitality by interviewing OBH Editor, Julie Baxter.  

We quizzed her about the awards, the rigorous judging process they follow, the direction that onboard innovation is taking, and other ways her team is bringing the aviation industry’s sharpest minds together to solve for the future of our industry.   

Julie Baxter

AirFi: Hi Julie! Can you please explain, in a nutshell, what are the Onboard Hospitality Awards all about?   

Julie Baxter: Hi! Of course. Launched in 2014, The Onboard Hospitality Awards are designed to recognise innovation and excellence in people, products and services which support the onboard passenger experience in air, on rail, ferry or cruise. They are designed to showcase developments with the onboard sector and shine a light on new and exciting products.  

It’s been a challenging year for our sector but many innovative new products and services have come through and will become key to the recovery of the travel industry. Star performers have re-thought and reinvented what they’ve traditionally offered to ensure new onboard needs are met.    

AirFi: How are The Onboard Hospitality Awards different from other industry awards?   

Julie Baxter: Our rigorous and accountable judging process is the key difference to our awards and makes them the most well respected in the business. The judging process involves online voting by our readers – the buyers and suppliers of onboard hospitality – followed by detailed inspection by a worldwide panel of expert judges with over 300 years of combined experience in the sector between them. This means the judgements are made by people truly in-the-know about the practical processes of putting product onboard that meets passenger priorities.  

AirFi: How have the categories evolved over time?   

Julie Baxter: The categories are designed to reflect the diversity of the onboard product and give recognition to each element that makes up the passenger experience, in each of the cabin classes so amenity kits and F&B, wellbeing and service equipment, kids products and textiles, technology and sustainability. We also include a “Ones to Watch” Category to showcase products that are not yet onboard but actively targeting the sector. And because sometimes the passenger experience is designed to bring together many elements, we also have a Cabin Concept of the Year category recognising airlines launching new cabins with multiple touchpoints. 

AirFi: How may submissions do you typically get in a year?   

Julie Baxter: Typically, we get around 200. This year, due to the challenges our industry is facing, it was slightly less.   

AirFi: Which categories are the biggest/fastest growing?   

Julie Baxter: Traditionally, amenity kits have been the biggest category followed by food categories. This year technology and sustainability were the biggest – reflecting the growing importance of these two topics in the current climate.  

AirFi: We’re SO EXCITED to have been recognized this year along with our customer Scoot. Can you explain more about the Technology category and why it’s important for your audience?  

Julie Baxter: We were really pleased this year to see that our tech category was one of the biggest, with sixteen entries overall. This is surely a reflection of the times we’re living in – tech has never been a more vital component in the passenger experience. It now impacts every element of the passenger journey, from IFE to F&B, safety to connectivity. Competition in our tech category was arguably the toughest it has ever been, and a lot of deliberation occurred before the judges chose to award ScootHub as the overall winner.   

Every congratulation goes to those like AirFi and Scoot for identifying a need and providing a solution in a positive and effective way.  

AirFi: Thank you! Who judged the Technology category this year, and did they have any special comments about the ScootHub?  

Julie Baxter: This year the tech judges were Ryan Ghee (Head of Strategy, Engagement & Content, Future Travel Experience), Markus Gilges (Transportation Wi-Fi Expert), Anne de Hauw (Founder, IN Air Travel Experience), Mike Crump (MD, Honour Consulting) and Simon Soni (Onboard Consultant). Overall, they felt it was a well-designed, modern solution, contributing to onboard safety with BYOD and minimised touchpoints. You can view the judges’ comments here: https://youtu.be/En-YYKo_6aI?t=986  

 AirFi: What else is OBH doing right now to promote innovation and excellence in our industry?   

Julie Baxter: Onboard Hospitality has launched the Get Onboard Now! campaign in collaboration with leading inflight hospitality specialists, including AirFi (Job is on one of our Action Groups focused on Profits). The campaign is designed to push onboard hospitality provision back up the agenda to build passenger confidence and revive enthusiasm for the real joys of travel. Our campaign Action Groups bring together high-quality senior travel buyers and suppliers to raise the profile of onboard hospitality as a key part of travel recovery post pandemic. They seek to identify and promote best practice solutions to support quality passenger experiences and airline profitability. They focus on three key themes: 

People: the talent and skills needed to deliver best hospitality.   

Planet: sustainability in onboard products/catering/supply chain  

Profits: emerging revenue streams and digitalization  

The campaign seeks to re-engage the debate around the value of hospitality, drawing on global trends and insights from other sectors to drive hospitality into a new era onboard. Onboard Hospitality provides the forum for debate and provide the oxygen of publicity to initiatives and innovation supporting sector hospitality at its creative best. 

AirFi: Cool! Where can people go to learn more about this?  

Julie Baxter: They can visit https://www.onboardhospitality.com/tag/get-onboard-now/