Design the future: An interview with Anna Bracht, Brand Strategist at Lufthansa Group

"Each touchpoint, from booking to landing, contributes to a holistic travel experience that supports our passengers' needs, aspirations, and preferences. Our evolution is not just about adapting to changing values but anticipating and shaping them." Anna Bracht

Anna Milani

Anna Bracht, Brand Strategist at Lufthansa Group, joins Anna Milani, Senior Service Designer & Researcher at Designit, to share strategic insights and the ambitious path Lufthansa Group is taking toward a future where aviation is not only about reaching destinations, but about creating meaningful, sustainable, and personalised journeys for every passenger.

To kick things off, Anna, can you tell us more about your role at Lufthansa?

I have been with Lufthansa for many years, and of course, my role has evolved in that time. Most recently, I've transitioned from focusing on customer experience to concentrating on brand strategy, specifically within the premium segment. I look at Lufthansa’s brand strategy from a holistic viewpoint, considering all our brands across the spectrum, not just the Lufthansa airline but also the numerous other brands within the group. It's about understanding and strategising the group's brand direction and how we position ourselves as a premium offering in the aviation market.

How is Lufthansa transforming the concept of customer experience in today's aviation industry?

The transformation of customer experience within Lufthansa is driven by a deep understanding that today’s travellers seek more than just a point-to-point service. We aim to create a journey that's as enriching as the destination itself. This means prioritising comfort, convenience, and personalisation, but also tapping into the emotional and psychological well-being of our passengers.

We're exploring how each touchpoint, from booking to landing, contributes to a holistic travel experience that supports our passengers' needs, aspirations, and preferences. Our evolution is not just about adapting to changing values but anticipating and shaping them.

What are some of the challenges in shaping the customer experience?

The biggest challenge is complexity – shaping the customer experience requires many different factors and stakeholders to come together cohesively. Although creating premium experiences doesn’t have to entirely rely on cost, it is certainly a factor that comes into play. We must also balance complexities around unions and worker requirements. From a passenger perspective, a challenge is finding ways to accommodate diverse individual needs. For example, a business traveller on a long-haul flight likely has very different priorities and needs than a young family travelling for leisure.

Across the board, we see that consumer expectations about the digital experience are also rising. Passengers expect their apps to work seamlessly, the check-in process to be smooth, and logistical updates to be delivered in real time. In contrast, passenger expectations on board have remained more static over time.

It’s an interesting point – as the digital experience evolves, the ‘analogue’ experience becomes more and more important.

Yes, absolutely. On board, passengers still expect a high level of hospitality, food, and to some extent (although in-flight TVs are becoming antiquated), entertainment. Passengers still want to be part of a community, to be welcomed with a smile, and to be taken care of if something goes wrong. Of course, sometimes people will prefer to use an app – perhaps on a business trip or short flight.

But other times, such as in situations where emotions are involved, passengers are more likely to seek out a human than an automated, impersonal process. Going back to the example of a family on holiday with children, or a traveller whose luggage has been lost, it is often much more preferred and reassuring to talk to a real person.

Your role is focused on the premium passenger experience. What does premium mean for Lufthansa?

The concept of premium for Lufthansa revolves around more than just luxury amenities or exclusive services. The challenge for us is not only defining what premium entails for a brand with a rich history like Lufthansa but also unifying this concept across diverse markets and brands, acknowledging that the interpretation of premium can vary significantly across different cultures and brands. Our approach is focused on fostering authentic connections, uplifting the flying experience, and building on our strong heritage. In doing that, we continuously look to other legacy brands for inspiration.

We recognise that if we are to deliver a premium experience across diverse cultures, we need to maintain consistency also across all brands while also allowing each airline within Lufthansa Group to tailor its communication and hospitality to reflect its unique identity. This strategy will ensure that each brand delivers a consistent message about what it means to experience Lufthansa Group's premium service, even as the specifics of that experience might vary.

Shifting gears a little bit, how do you think the industry is evolving to become more sustainable?

Passengers do know by now that flying is not sustainable, but more than ever, they still want to fly. Compared to taking the train, flying is still often the most efficient option, especially if connecting between two flights, and people are driven by convenience. The industry’s approach to sustainability needs to be proactive and multifaceted to meet these diverging preferences and needs.

Sustainability is foundational to the Lufthansa brand, and our vision is to lead the industry by example. Besides focusing on technical innovations, which will of course be crucial to this effort, it will also be about fostering a culture of sustainability within our organisation and among our passengers. We need to demonstrate that responsible travel is not only possible but essential for the future of our planet.

Looking ahead, what do you hope for the future of aviation?

From a sustainability perspective, I hope people begin to think more consciously about flying – if you take a flight, you take it for a reason. We see already that passengers’ mindsets and values around flying are beginning to shift. Now the system needs to evolve to be more sustainable, and in addition to helping create that change, we need to make sure we’re constantly innovating so that we can adapt to the customer needs of the future.

In terms of the premium experience, I hope that the concept of premium continues to evolve from ‘first class and champagne’ toward the notion that premium is what premium means to you – it’s an experience that speaks to your values as a passenger. As we see the rise of hyper-personalisation in other brand experiences, people are less willing to be put into a ‘one size fits all’ box. Leveraging digital technology, AI, and the human touch will help us stay competitive and create those personalised experiences.

I am most excited about the future of the premium experience, which I believe lies in the seamless blend of digital and human interactions. Inclusivity in premium travel is about recognising and celebrating the unique needs and aspirations of each passenger. In essence, premium isn't just for the moment; it's a long-term commitment. My premium vision is to differentiate ourselves by aligning our brand with what's important to people today and what will be important to future generations.

Do you want to learn more about our work with the aviation industry? Are you looking for ways to reimagine your employee and customer experience? Reach out.