Author: Pedro Nassif, CTO, VistaJet
22 Jan 2018
The world has changed drastically over the past decade. Gone are the days when big companies could simply buy expensive private jets with which to fly executives to and from meetings around the globe. Amid an ongoing climate of economic uncertainty, such lavish purchases are considered irresponsible by most. But the demand among business travellers has not abated; the need to reach new markets and meet others face-to-face is still as important as ever.
Fortunately, there is a way to have the best of both worlds: private jet membership offers the convenience and comfort of owning a private jet without the large costs of running and maintaining a depreciating asset. Now, with the introduction of the industry’s first end-to-end booking app, flying privately is easier than ever.
VistaJet clients need only tap their phones and, within just 24 hours, they could be lounging in their seat during takeoff, enjoying all the benefits of private air travel without the financial drag of owning their own jet. European CEO spoke to Pedro Nassif, Chief Technology Officer at VistaJet, to learn more about VistaJet Direct and the changing nature of the business aviation industry.
VistaJet Direct is the first end-to-end booking app in business aviation. What motivated you to make this move?
We saw an opportunity to offer an efficient channel that would make flying with VistaJet simpler than ever, offering priority access to available flights at preferential rates. All customers have to do is download the app from Google Play or the App Store, register and pay the membership fee.
Normally, on-demand flights within our market are sourced via intermediaries. However, we believe dealing directly with
the customer – in this case, through the use of an end-to-end booking app – removes the friction that can stem from working through a third party.
Additionally, a key consumer trend in the modern world is the shift towards online purchasing channels. This is a trend that is already very pronounced in adjacent industries, such as commercial aviation. Simply put, as customers’ habits continue to evolve, so must we.
Can you describe the app experience a little? How will customers be able to use it to simplify booking and flying?
We developed the app with the help of Monitora, leveraging the company’s first-rate technological expertise and experience across five countries to establish the best way of serving our customers.
By using VistaJet Direct, clients are able to tailor every individual aspect of their flight from their phone
As a result, clients are able to tailor every aspect of their flight from their phone, whether selecting the catering, adding passengers or outlining the ground services they’ll need once they land. Members also receive push notifications to their smartphone when a flight is near them or available in one of their favourite cities.
Ultimately, the app achieves three mains goals. First of all, it simplifies the booking process: Direct’s efficient purchasing process ensures that pricing, ordering and paying for a flight all happen effortlessly online. Second, the app helps customers save time, storing information about their upcoming and past flights in real time – eradicating the need for confirmation emails and phone calls. Finally, it improves communication accuracy, with a real-time view of the flight itinerary directly linked to our scheduling system.
More broadly, how is VistaJet innovating and using technology to enhance the customer experience?
VistaJet has a long history of investing in technology and innovation. We understand it is essential to not only sustain the quality and efficiency of our services, but also to come up with improved product offerings for our customers on a consistent basis.
This has been achieved by working with a worldwide network of technology experts and promoting a broad creative environment throughout the company. At VistaJet, we don’t want to simply keep pace with the market: we want to lead it.
What is unique about the services VistaJet provides?
In becoming a VistaJet member, customers have access to an entire fleet of more than 70 aircraft, receiving all the benefits of a personal jet without having to bear any of the responsibility that comes with actually owning one.
It is also the level of service and attention to detail we offer; our customers are always at the forefront of our minds. We offer consistent and identical cabins across our fleet, cabin hostesses that are trained by the British Butler Institute, dining by the world’s most renowned chefs, as well as crystal and china by Christofle.
Our in-flight technology is also exceptional: we offer advanced cabin management systems, which provide complete control of the cabin environment, entertainment and productivity technologies, even from your personal devices.
How does the VistaJet Program compare to full and fractional aircraft ownership?
Unlike with full and fractional aircraft ownership, our customers can purchase a certain number of hours at a time, only paying for the time they spend in the air and therefore avoiding the pitfalls of having a depreciating asset on their books.
Fractional customers have to buy part of an asset, and they don’t know how much they’ll get back until they sell their share. With depreciation, they never know how much they are going to lose until the very end of the process. They also don’t have the same convenience and flexibility as VistaJet Program customers, who can fly with as little as 24 hours’ notice and guaranteed availability.
With full aircraft ownership, customers are responsible for aircraft maintenance, pilot training, catering and slot access, to name but a few duties. In flying with VistaJet, this is all taken care of, and customers need only let us know where they need to be and when.
What does the future hold for VistaJet and the wider industry?
We expect the trend we are seeing with regards to aircraft ownership to continue, but we do not neglect the fact customers’ expectations are evolving. We live in a new world, one where everything is expected to happen instantaneously. Our focus is on building for the future and putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.
We have recently signed a groundbreaking transaction with Rhône Capital, which has invested $150m (€127.4m) into the business, valuing it at more than $2.5bn (€2.1bn). The investment is another milestone in VistaJet’s growth trajectory, as well as a major vote of confidence in the company’s strategy and business model.
VistaJet is one of the most operationally advanced companies in the sector: we have flown more than 250,000 passengers to over 1,600 airports in 187 countries – or 96 percent of the world – making us the only truly global player in the market. With these strong foundations and the investment from Rhône Capital, we are ideally placed for significant growth across all of our core markets in the near future.