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Changing private aviation trends increase demand for Wi-Fi

How the inflight experience can make or break a charter business

As more business professionals seek the exclusivity, convenience, and luxury of private jet travel, they’re also looking to get it without the expense of owning the jet themselves. “They’re experienced cord-cutters…They look at business aviation and ask, ‘Why own an entire aircraft when you can share the cost and use it with others?’” President & CEO of Executive AirShare Keith Plumb recently told Forbes4.

In 2017 more than a quarter of business travelers were in the market to purchase a private jet, but many—even those in the ultra-high net worth (UHNW) segment—opted out of outright ownership or even fractional options, instead choosing to:

●    Charter a jet (13%)
●    Purchase a jet card (18%)
●    Use a broker to schedule trips (19%)
●    Fly on empty-leg flights (10%) to balance “privacy” with cost effectiveness1

And, as these trends in private jet travel give more people more options and attract new travelers into an elite world, charter organizations and other private aviation companies are seeing new customers become instant converts—but not without offering some differentiation in service, like high-speed inflight Wi-Fi.2

Today’s business travelers face new demands that validate the need for private jet travel. Expanding technology, more regulations, fast-developing wealth in emerging markets, and global demand for business services require round-the-clock focus, and thus more productivity on the go.3

Industry pros, like ARGUS founder and CEO Joe Moeggenberg, don’t see the trend reversing, but rather continuing to become the new norm. “Business aviation must, and is, addressing the shift from a product to a service. It’s no longer based on ownership. It is about creating unique service offerings.”4

And what’s clear is that one unique service offering few private jet travelers can do without is inflight connectivity.

Private aviation trends

Connecting businesses, uniting generations

Today’s business travelers expect to be connected throughout their trip. But these travelers aren’t homogenous; charter jet customers generally fall into two groups:

The first is a younger, more flexible clientele seeking an on-demand experience—think tech startup founders, entrepreneurs, and other disruptors who’ve grown up in the digital age. They want flash, style, and the creature comforts of their well-appointed offices but without having to spend a fortune because they’re also less wealthy than their jet-owning counterparts, with an average wealth of $67 million, compared to $1.5 billion for private jet owners.3

The second group comprises more traditional corporate travelers—14% are in financial services and 35% engage in philanthropy. More “custom suit” than high-end hoodie, they expect bespoke service and the ability to conduct business in the air without skipping a beat. Being able to answer emails, stream videoconferences, and close deals mid-flight is as important to them as the speed and convenience of private jet travel itself.3

Despite their differences–whether attributed to industry, generation, or other factors—what keeps all of these customers coming back is an “exclusive” flight experience. And they’ll actively seek out the charter operators who can offer exactly what they want, when they want it.

 

Competing on connectivity

Wi-Fi seems like a no-brainer, as ubiquitous in public and private spaces as air and light. But unless a charter aircraft is relatively new, it may not be equipped with the kind of connectivity required for today’s fast-paced, highly driven business travelers. However, upgrading an aircraft with reliable inflight Wi-Fi can make all the difference in the number of first-time and repeat charter bookings, as well as overall customer satisfaction.

For example, business travelers can change up their destination for the next leg of the trip at a moment’s notice simply by connecting to the aircraft’s Wi-Fi and logging into a booking platform. Now, they can do it from the air to save time, hassle, and make sure they get first crack at their preferred flight options. The connectivity also helps pilots and crew communicate with teams on the ground who can help facilitate the changes and keep passengers happy, all of which contribute to improved sales and marketing efforts for many organizations.

“[Wi-Fi] differentiates us,” says Jessica Naor, Sales and Marketing Director at Grandview Aviation. “We capture more trips because we have this capability.”

 

Got Wi-Fi?

“Business jets are today’s cell phone…years ago considered a luxury, now a vital, affordable, and competitive tool,” says Million Air CEO Roger Woolsey. “The use of private aviation is the greatest corporate force multiplier, unlocking companies to improve productivity, gain market share, and used to drastically outperform competitors.”4

As the appeal and accessibility of business aviation continues to evolve, charter organizations have to stay on their toes, casting a wider net for potential customers through online booking services and mobile apps, while catering to the whims of newer customers and traditionalists alike.

No longer beholden to rigid travel plans, travelers accessing inflight connectivity are available and adaptable when previously they were “out of pocket.” Wi-Fi enables them to respond quickly to changing business demands or unexpected events in their personal lives. Travelers of every age and profession now have the ability to organize their time the way they’re accustomed to in the digital age: on demand and en route.

Whether they need to book a car service, accommodations, restaurants, meeting space, tours, or any number of executive perks, Wi-Fi makes it all possible. And it’s not just about business and logistics. Watching movies, TV shows, or the news—accessed via streaming—keeps them entertained and enhances their overall experience.
 

No matter the age, experience, or job title of the passenger, charter operators can’t afford not to offer fast and reliable inflight connectivity if they want to remain competitive and relevant.

To learn more about how Gogo inflight connectivity solutions can make your charter jet operation more attractive to wider audiences and more profitable, connect with a Gogo inflight connectivity consultant.

 

Sources
1. 2017. “Affluent Perspective 2017 Annual Report." YouGov.com, September 4, 2017.
2. Hampshire, Luke. 2018. "Three ways you can start flying private sooner." LinkedIn.com, March 7, 2018.
3. Rickard, Howard. 2018. "New Report Reveals the Preferences of the Business Elite and Wealthy Fliers." VistaJet.com, April 5, 2018.
4. Gollan, Doug. 2018. "The Hottest Private Aviation Trends, From New Aircraft to New Ways to Access Private Jets." Forbes.com, February 14, 2018.

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