Flight management software for business aircraft is improving at a tremendous rate these days. These new services are launching to streamline air charter services, in part, to match the ease of commercial booking online. Some products are decidedly better than others, and the most effective products are utilities that assist - not replace - the work of an air charter broker.
Many of these web-based applications, Jeremy Levy of GiveJet, LLC. dubbed them ‘Travelocity for Private Jets.’ They allow public users to enter origin and destination information while cross-referencing real-time databases of available aircraft. These services are logical, simple and efficient; just like the self-checkout at a grocery store or transit passes on municipal transportation systems. These elements serve the low-end, mass market very well; but private, executive markets, I believe they do not.
In web start-up parlance these applications are ‘disruptors;’ or efforts to (re)create a new business model for aircraft charters. Yet, as Levy says, chartering business aircraft “is an unscheduled, highly fragmented industry which has very little uniformity in standards of service and operations...The few of us [brokers] that are actually knowledgeable and honest bring tremendous value to our clients by way of great prices and service consistency.” At the executive level, “people need someone they can trust when using a service as unpredictable and uncontrollable as jet charter,” he added.
Consider ours in terms of another industry with niche markets, like restaurants. If ticketing services like Travelocity, Orbitz, etc., are likened to fast food or mass market restaurant chains, then the business model is dependent upon quantity over quality (despite what their marketing may tell you). It is a come one, come all approach.For the experienced executive, the demands of their travel - like their tastes in dining - are far more nuanced.
On the ground, there are chartered car services like www.uber.com that utilize neat phone applications to meet a high-ticket client almost anywhere in a big city. But given the cost and logistics of moving biz aircraft around, we're presented with a unique situation; wherein the broker is more integral and relied upon. Therefore online database applications such as Avinode and FlightPartner enhance the quality of brokerage and retain the core of the profession.
FlightPartner, for instance, offers an intelligent air charter scheduling service that is cloud based, and looking to become the full package for air charter brokers. They are emerging as the frontrunner in today’s fast and ever-changing tech marketplace for air charters. FlightPartner has created a service that can take your request, search and quote within 30 seconds; I find it fascinating and prescient.
There are many great ideas out there for these web-based services and their development. I think we need to take notice as to where technology is growing in our industry and test and support the startups that are trying to improve the speed and efficiency of our business.
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