An airplane moves people and connects them with other people and things.
The internet connects people and moves things.
Airplane operators know that using aircraft can be an expensive proposition. Use of the internet is free. If you combined something expensive with something free what happens?
Do Private Jet Operators Understand The Implications?
There has been a saying in the private jet business: If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it. People who use private jets generally haven’t hunted for the best prices because it’s a status thing. These two statements used to be foundational truths in the private aviation business. But things are changing.
There are a finite number of wealthy people and/or corporations who desire to own or use a private jet regardless of the cost. Most charter operators have chased all the wealthy people for a sale so operators end up chasing the same customer over and over. Even the wealthy are feeling the economic pitch and shareholders are questioning the cost of and need for private aircraft. Now charter operators are being pressured to justify and lower their cost. Cost has become transparent thanks to the internet. Yet most operators do not fully understand the implications of transparency and social technology on old business models and methods.
What Are The Implications?
Business travelers and affluent individuals are becoming disenchanted with commercial flights, crowded airports, flight delays, and inconvenient schedules. These travelers are looking for alternatives to save time and reduce the hassles of commercial air travel. So they go to the internet to examine private aviation alternatives. What do they find and see? At most, Web.1.0!
When you do a search for “private jets” or “private aviation” what comes up on the first page are listings of jet brokers (those that don’t operate or own any jets). You also see lots of references to “cost per hour, fractional jets and a host of other terms that are foreign to buyers”.
So let’s say someone decides to click on any of the links. They end up on a static web page with pretty pictures of expensive jets and self- proclaimed accolades of how great this company is then an 800 number to call for a quote.
So if someone looking for an alternative to commercial air travel hasn’t already lost interest in their search then the next step is to actually make a call. Then someone answers the call and begins asking questions to the caller of which the caller has no idea what they are talking about. Not wanting to sound stupid the caller fakes their way through the dialog expecting to get a quote at the end of the call. Instead the broker/operator says “can I have your email or number so I can get back to you?”
If the buyer agrees it then takes the broker/operator at least half a dozen phone calls, faxes, or emails, before you can get a charter estimate which may or may not be correct. Then the operator/broker emails you the quote of which has so many disclaimers and its format doesn’t make any sense to the buyer. All this, and you have not boarded the plane yet. Besides that all he buyer wanted to know is what is my seat cost and what I get for it.
By now operators are reading this saying “You don’t understand our business model, we don’t sell seats we sell jets”. To which I would say “I know but every jet has a certain number of seats and the total cost is represented by a cost per seat, full or not.”
Broken Business Models
According to a Forrester’s recent report, there are about 53.8 Million socially engaged eBusiness travelers in the United States alone. A new market opportunity for private aviation. It’s all about the passenger – they have the money.
Certainly not all 53.8 million business travelers would consider private aviation as an alternative travel option. But let’s say 1% would which means 53,000 potentially new customers.
The private aviation industry couldn’t imagine having 53 thousand new customers because their mindsets are frozen in old business models and expensive archaic operating processes. Today’s charter revenues barely cover the aircraft management and operational costs, and almost never reach levels necessary to cover an aircraft’s cost of ownership. At the same time in the charter world an aircraft flies empty 40% to 60% of the time. What a waste!
It is time for a revolution in innovative private aviation business models if the industry wants to capture the significant growth opportunity fueled by demand from disgruntled business travelers looking for viable alternatives.
Old mindsets are saying “You don’t understand how we operate”. My response is “You don’t understand how to change the way you operate”.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you‘re saying.”
Stay tuned for “What Would Jet 3.0 Look Like?”