Ifsa Royal Gamble
The International Flight Services Association (IFSA) headed by Managing Director Lauren Costello, recently added an unusual and unprecedented “Royal” twist to one of its workshops at the annual 2019 IFSA convention in Los Angeles. The workshop held on 11 September 2019, which was the first of its kind, held within a newly conceptualised component of IFSA’s exposition strategy, was given the green light months ago under a highly confidential and quiet agreement between participants, which saw a titled Royal, His Highness Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe, a celebrity expert and Royal historian, and a Master mixologist turn heads within one of the world’s most important, well known, and exclusive travel industry conventions.
The multi-day gathering held from 9 -12 September, alongside APEX (The Airline Passenger Experience Association) at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, was a grouping of the world’s best inflight and rail service suppliers, products, innovative changes and technological improvements that are soon expected to be added to the industry’s passenger experience commitments. In addition to this hands-on exposition, APEX’s CEO, Joe Leader, hosted the pinnacle of the industry’s annual industry awards, presenting some of the most prestigious honours to have been bestowed upon the airline and rail passenger industry for the year. Never before has such a large and important convention included a workshop Royal in theme, let alone with the procurement of a titled Royal, celebrity Royal expert and a Master barman to present, speak and provide alcoholic mixology to the conference’s delegates – a forward thinking decision and a winner indeed on behalf of IFSA!
Royal Encounters: Premium Class Passenger Drinks was a daring, bold and a successful finale for the many interactive workshop themes the industry giant produced at this year’s convention. This awe-inspiring session and highly popular addition to the conference was truly a cutting-edge theme for the industry at the inauguration of IFSA’s newly launched Innovation Pavilion, created by Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis. Bringing in such well-known personalities and celebrities as His Highness, Prince Mario-Max of Schaumburg-Lippe and Royal media personality, historian, expert, and internationally award winning author, Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, IFSA further complimented the “Royal” pairing with Master Mixologist, Mr. Giorgio Tosato of London, and workshop concept designer, Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis, to present Royal Encounters: Premium Class Passenger Drinks to the world’s airline and passenger train CEOs, Executives and delegates. Introduced and emceed by Dr. Kefallonitis, who is also an Education Committee and Annual Conference Planning Committee Member for IFSA, and an official Member of the Forbes Chicago Council, the workshop and speaking session was further enhanced by the expertise, historical relevance and the knowledge of premium cabin expectations of Mr. Mace-Archer-Mills, as well as the crucial, yet understated importance of “Royal” service and treatment, stressed by His Highness, Prince Mario-Max. Adding to the experience of the workshop, Mace-Archer-Mills and Prince Mario-Max were not only joined by, but provided with ice-cold cocktail refreshment of specialised Royal themed beverages made especially for the workshop by Tosato. Building on the workshop’s theme of Premium Class Passenger Drinks, Mr. Tosato not only built and explained the drinks, but had them served to the many delegates in attendance, to which only standing room was available in the newly conceived Innovation Pavilion.
Taking questions from industry CEOs and Executives, such as those from Amtrak and Hawaiian Airlines to name a few, both Prince Mario-Max and Mace-Archer-Mills were able to display a vast and impressive working knowledge of the industry, and what premium passenger experience means, as well as outline the need to properly and further innovate new ways and methods for the industry to include the resurgence of the “golden age” of the cocktail and its rejuvenated interest at 35,000 feet. Mace-Archer-Mills stated that those flying in premium cabins should, “not be forced to settle for lacklustre cocktail options due to limited choices caused by unsatisfactory and limited spirit options, weight restrictions, waste generation, and the lack of innovation in supplying proper cocktails in the sky. If passengers aren’t restricted on the ground, why should they be so in the air whilst paying thousands for the experience?” Such matters to resolve he said, were for “the industry and the airlines themselves to resolve with environmental consciousness”.
Mace-Archer-Mills further explained and outlined how proper mixology could be achieved without a proper mixologist on board by, “creating and further enhancing the signature drinks of certain airlines”. Of course, those servicing premium cabins would need “additional training to perfect superior service when creating and presenting signature and specialty cocktails before and after take-off”. This could be achieved Mace-Archer-Mills stated, by “premixing the base of certain cocktails including associated spirits and non-carbonated mixers before flight, adding fizz, fresh fruits/garnishes in the cabin… and further keeping premade mixers, zests and sprays at hand in the galley or service trolley when building a cocktail in the air or awaiting those in the rear of the aircraft to complete boarding”. He went on to reference the wine industry’s use of innovation in, “canning good wines for lighter, environmental packaging, adding more Co2 for the preservation of a fresher taste and a reduction in overall weight and waste”. He further went on to make example and mention of Marks & Spencer’s Gin and Tonic in a can as, “tasty, fresh and a promising example” for what could await the airline industry.
Interacting with Hawaiian Airlines Catering Executive, Paula Jenson, Prince Mario-Max spoke of the Royal importance of Hawaiian Airlines, having personally flew with them on his latest holiday to the Big Island and how their signature drink, the Mai-Thai, made all the difference with his first-class passenger experience. He referenced the Hawaiian Monarchy, the only “true Royal Palace within the United States of America” and how taking passengers to and from the “Kingdom of Hawaii” should be reflected not only in the State’ s Royal roots and heritage, but “within every aspect of its flagship air carrier”. Ms. Jenson continued the conversation and explained how the addition of a signature drink, as mentioned by His Highness, to the airline has increased passenger experience and happiness in premium class cabins.
Taking a two-part question from President and CEO of Amtrak, Mr. Richard Anderson, Mace-Archer-Mills highlighted how unique and special Amtrak was in the Passenger Services Industry as Amtrak, “is not limited to the same weight restrictions and logistical scenarios that airlines are.” He further went on to praise the “north-eastern corridor” of Amtrak’s services for customer service and efficiency, mixed together with, “wide and spacious seating with 36 inches of leg room as a standard feature, a club car and beautiful scenery which is not seen and/or appreciated when flying over it.” Rail services, Mace-Archer-Mills went on to say were, “…a great alternative to air travel, which can and sometimes does offer the ability to better service and provide choices to Amtrak passengers.” Being an Amtrak passenger himself, Mace-Archer-Mills went on to not only answer further questions about premium services onboard Amtrak, but further offered several ways and options which Amtrak could capitalise on to, “bring out the best in passenger comfort, passenger service and new travel experiences related to beverage choices, signature seasonal drinks and themed train journeys”.
Presenting the “Royal Finale” as the closing workshop and final interactive speeches of the IFSA convention, Dr. Kefallonitis turned to Royal historian, expert, author and media personality Mace-Archer-Mills to further help showcase the refreshing creations of Mixologist Tosato, discussing the colouring of the drinks, the flavours and associated measurements to perfect the perfect cocktail. Tosato explained each recipe, the reasoning behind the ingredients and the overall taste and feeling premium passengers should and would experience when drinking such specifically designed signature cocktails. The use of certain ingredients within his prepared cocktails, Mixologist Tosato went on to explain, would “relax and de-stress passengers who may feel a bit of stress awaiting or within flight”. He further explained to the delegates assembled that mixing a cocktail is, “not about looking sophisticated and cultured, but a scientific way to ingest ingredients which will help the body and mind overcome several different feelings of heightened anxiety which are mentally and physically associated with travel at high altitudes”.
Royal Encounters: Premium Class Passenger Drinks was a first for IFSA and the most talked about and popular workshop of the 2019 IFSA convention, an experience which both delegates and industry CEO’s could agree provided exceptional discussion, intriguing commentary and fantastic tastings of what passenger experience providers could do to bring an extra special feeling of “Royal” treatment to their passengers in premium cabins. Mace-Archer-Mills also stated that he did not feel, “exempting coach class passengers from an experience was wise” as airlines should be looking to “convert coach passengers into premium passengers” and therefore experiences such as “signature drinks and cocktails could and should be offered to those in the rear of the aircraft for a price.”
The bold decision of IFSA to host such an interactive and out-of-the-box workshop, a grand “Royal” finale to the inaugural run of their interactive Innovation Pavilion, is to be lauded and commended. It is unheard of that such interestingly daring and popular topics are explored within such workshops that are professionally and educationally presented and produced by this industry giant. The creation of IFSA’s new Innovation Pavilion has paved the way for specially designed, bespoke and enticing platforms within the travel industry to be explored with interest and contemplation by those driving the airline and rail industries, hence providing new and industry-first workshops tailored to contain both an edgy and popular vibe within the world of passenger travel and experience. The platform which IFSA has used to capture the calibre of talent and titled individuals for their Royal Encounters: Premium Class Passenger Drinks, only goes to show how IFSA is not only forward thinking and not afraid to shake things up, but changing the equation as to how convention delegates are educated and entertained within their sphere of industry innovation and awareness. IFSA has truly shown that the duty of care to their delegates and executive attendees has been altered to provide an extraordinary experience which will not soon be forgotten.
The IFSA convention was complimented by a series of invitation only VIP and VVIP parties at Club 7 on the seventh floor and Spire 73, the outdoor roof top entertainment venue on the 73rd floor of the convention’s host hotel, the Intercontinental Downtown Los Angeles. Guests dined on artisan premium beef and chicken sliders, meat and vegetable skewers, assorted sushi, an array of gourmet basmati rice with vegetables and poultry, in addition to superior sweets and desserts with a vast array of hospitable complimentary bars placed around the rooftop’s fireplaces and seating areas. Delegates and celebrities, including Erin Lear – granddaughter of Lear Jet and Motorola mogul Bill Lear, executives and CEOs were treated to a world class view high in the sky with a fantastic series of workshops and events on offer at the 2019 IFSA and APEX convention. It was all topped off with a touch of Royal sophistication and glamour with the addition of His Highness, Prince Mario-Max of Schaumburg-Lippe and the esteemed professional offerings of Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, Giorgio Tosato and Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis.
To learn more about, or to contact, the esteemed participants in IFSA’a workshop, Royal Encounters: Premium Class Passenger Drinks, you may find direct links to each members’ social media below:
His Highness, Prince Mario-Max of Schaumburg-Lippe
Fb: @Mario-Max Prinz Zu Schaumburg-Lippe
Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis