When you see it fly!

Chances are, if you fly regularly in Europe, you have seen one of the Retail inMotion team’s menus in flight. Those menus are truly a work of art, but they’re also just a lot of work! I caught up with Aoife and Kerrie, two of our team members that spearhead the development of new menus, to learn a bit more about the menu design process and what they need to pay special attention to in order to create a successful, memorable menu.

Aoife works on our Products team scouring the market to identify the drinks, food and snacks that will excite passengers and drive revenue on board. Kerrie, from our Design team, takes an airline’s brand values and transforms them into a visual menu design that will appeal to passengers’ eyes and to their stomachs.

The two work very closely together to make sure that our customers and their passengers are satisfied and even impressed by what they find on board.

Jordan: Aoife, why is it so important that the products you select look appealing to passengers in the final menu design?

Aoife: In short, it’s because people eat with their eyes. One of the most important parts of the menu development process is our biannual photoshoot. That’s when we combine the products that I’ve selected with the customer with the design that Kerrie has developed. Once you combine the right products with the right design in the perfect photos, you have a menu that will make an impact. Our goal at each photoshoot is to create really beautiful, yet realistic images that fit the menu concept. We also have to think about things like the season that items will fly during and how we can correctly convey a particular feeling or mood in the photos. Usually our photoshoots take place four to six months ahead of time – so there’s a lot of pre-planning that takes place!

Jordan: Kerrie, when it comes to designing menus for our customers, what are some of the most important things you need to remember?

Kerrie: From a design perspective, each menu that I design is completely based on the needs and desires of the customer, the airline’s brand values, and the season in which the menu will fly. You wouldn’t want to use summer colours for a winter menu or vice versa. Our team also needs to work closely with our customers to see what their sales targets are for the upcoming menu cycle. Are they hoping to sell more meal combos? More hot beverages? Or, perhaps, more fresh sandwiches? These all become important factors during the photoshoot and during in the final menu design. We are essentially creating an ‘experience’ on board for the passenger through good design and photography – and the numbers prove that that drives sales.

It’s also incredibly important that every menu that I design is very visual in nature. The travel industry is unquestionably multi-lingual in nature, so we need to have menus that are easily digestible at first glance. (Pun intended)

Jordan: Aoife, if most airlines do major menu changes twice a year, but do smaller menu updates throughout the year, how do you prepare for it in advance?

Aoife: It’s definitely tricky. What we typically do during our biannual photoshoot is make sure that we take general “stock” type images of our products. That way, Kerrie can easily make a swap on the menu design in case anything changes in the product selection. We work mainly with airlines who operate an onboard retail programme, so flexibility is key for these clients. If a product or a meal combo isn’t working, we need to swap it out. Having “back-up” material for potential menu changes is crucial.

Jordan: Kerrie, what is your favourite part of the photoshoot and the menu design process in general?

Kerrie: I’d say that the most thrilling shots during the photoshoot are the “lifestyle” shots. These are the pictures that really reflect the menu ambiance that Aoife and I have worked so hard to create. The lifestyle shots group together many of the products that Aoife has selected into one image. It’s like all of our work, the products and the design elements, are meeting together. Of course, my favourite part of the menu design over all is when I’m actually on board and can see our menu in the seat back pocket. When you see your work fly, that’s when it’s all worth it!

Take a peek below to hear Aoife and Kerrie talk about how they create a beautiful menu: