- 10 Aug 2020
- Gerrard Cowan
- Jet Charter
What are the core advantages that make ad-hoc charter, Jet Card and Jet Membership solutions appeal to their users? René Armas Maes explores…Back to Articles
Every Business Aviation travel solution is designed to appeal to the particular needs of a core customer base. Ad-hoc charter, and Jet Cards/Memberships are no different. But what are their key selling points?
For those with the right travel profile, Jet Cards and Membership programs, and ad-hoc charter provide several benefits over Fractional and whole aircraft ownership. Following, we’ll consider some of the leading areas of customer satisfaction that stand out for certain users.
Jet Cards and Membership Programs
Jet Card and Jet Membership programs allow users to book flights at a contracted hourly rate with guaranteed aircraft availability. Typically, Jet Card providers target users who fly between 25 and 100 hours per year.
Indeed, several Jet Membership programs provide the option of fixed rates, but on a pay-as-you-go basis, subject to an initial pre-paid fee. By using this entry-level structure to Business Aviation usage, Membership Programs can lure customers away from ad-hoc charter usage at an incremental cost, while allowing users to only pay when they fly.
However, whereas Fractional Ownership program members can have an aircraft available in as little as four hours, the response time is slightly longer, at six-to-eight hours during non-peak periods, for typical Jet Card/Jet Membership programs.
So what are the key areas of customer satisfaction when it comes to Jet Card and Jet Membership programs?
1) Guaranteed Pricing (Within Reason)
Pricing for Jet Card and Jet Membership programs is generally under a rate contract for a specified number of flight hours per year, or a lump sum that pays up-front for a set number of flight hours per year, making yearly budgeting easier.
Jet Card programs offer an inclusive price structure up to a point, for example ensuring program members are unlikely to be charged for aircraft repositioning. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to understand exactly what comes under the ‘inclusive’ price.
Premium catering may command a surcharge, as could de-icing, additional Wi-Fi, and pet-cleaning services, so you may need to factor these in as additional costs.
2) Shorter Financial Commitment
Many who are new to Business Aviation like the idea of paying a fixed price over a shorter period (typically 12 months). This user type is often feeling their way in Business Aviation for the first time, and is unsure of whether their travel needs will be the same one year down the line.
So the shorter financial commitment of Jet Cards and Jet Membership programs becomes a key satisfaction driver, and is the reason why many choose this form of ‘ownership’ over Fractional Ownership programs that require larger outlay and longer-term commitment.
3) Convenience and Consistency
While many Jet Card programs (especially those operating large fleets of aircraft) own their aircraft and have more control over its availability and service standards, others may also work with affiliated companies to provide supplemental lift, especially during peak times of demand.
Nevertheless, they understand the appeal of the convenience and service consistency their programs provide, and focus hard on aligning their partners’ service delivery with their own high standards.
4) Peace of Mind
In the case where a Jet Card or Jet Membership program provider has to cancel a flight due, for example, to an AOG (Aircraft on the Ground), most fixed-rate programs will provide a back-up aircraft at no additional cost, providing an extra layer of protection for the end-user.
This is not necessarily the case for ad-hoc charter users who are likely to have to pay the difference for a replacement aircraft (usually at a higher hourly rate, due to last minute sourcing).
Ad-hoc Charter Users
Forming the baseline entry point into Business Aviation, ad-hoc (pay-as-you-go) charter is an option for users that have flying needs that range between one and 25 hours annually. Each ad-hoc charter flight is priced individually, based on demand. Getting quotes and availability could become more problematic during peak days and holidays.
Moreover, should a customer need to cancel and re-book a flight, they will get a new quote that will not necessary match their previous one – particularly at a time when fuel prices are so volatile. Nevertheless, where ad-hoc charter suits a user, it has several key customer satisfaction points.
1) Zero Customer Commitment
The lack of any commitment from the customer is the key benefit to customers who only need to consider travel on a trip-by-trip basis.
Nevertheless, ad hoc charter does not allow customers to enjoy the best rates, as they would when using a Jet Card/Membership program. And, unlike Jet Cards, there is no guaranteed availability for those ‘walk-up’ charter customers. So it’s important to book at least a few days in advance, if not one week before traveling.
2) Scheduling Flexibility = Cost Savings
For those who are flexible about the date and time of departure, however, there may be cost savings to have. In fact, for users who are flexible enough, they may even find that charter operators provide a better price than they can for a Jet Card member, particularly on non-peak days.
3) Opportunities for Price Optimization
I have seen ad-hoc charter users save between 40 and 60 percent per hour off the price of a regular flight when flexibility and circumstances allow them to take advantage of an empty leg flight.
Empty leg flights are repositioning flights in which the aircraft returns to its home base, or heads somewhere else to pick up customers. If an ad-hoc charter customer is in the right place at the right time, and needs to get to where the aircraft is going, there are some great savings to be had.
In summary, Figure 1 shows several customer satisfaction metrics to benchmark when considering whether Jet Cards, Ad Hoc Charter, or Fractional Ownership is the better option.
Figure 1: Leading Customer Satisfaction Metrics for Charter, Jet Cards & Frax Ownership
Through several corporate travel analyses, I have seen many cases of corporations that fly commercial airlines starting to charter flights – either ad-hoc, or purchasing Jet Cards – to reduce the wasted time their executives spend making connections and queuing for airport check-in and security, and maximizing their onboard security.
One example of a case study for this can be found in a previous article ‘Jet Ownership: How to do a Corporate Travel Profile Analysis’. In that analysis, we reviewed a corporation’s travel data and budget to understand current and alternative travel arrangements.
We proceeded to evaluate the effectiveness of cross-over between ad-hoc charter and scheduled airline travel while finding, and recommending, key efficiencies and savings on point-to-point airliner scheduled services, train services, and a Jet Card.
Based on the key satisfaction drivers discussed, the corporation decided to use a multi-model approach to efficiently move its executives around. Essentially, if the goal is to optimize travel time and convenience, it is necessary to benchmark multiple travel options in order to establish the best solution(s) in the case of your corporation.
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