A note from VistaJet’s Chief Information Officer

The aviation industry offers a fantastic way to optimize the use of time. Business aviation, in particular, is very good at it. Aviation connects people and locations across the world, fostering trade, collaboration, innovation and efficiently shortening time distances. However odd it may seem, business aviation shares little with its commercial peer, apart from the obvious fact they both fly planes.

For starters, the former is essentially an unscheduled business, whilst the latter a scheduled one. This is far from a detail. Unscheduled flying entails that the plane needs to be ready when customers need it, in other words, the flight move around customer’s time requirements. By contrast, by following fixed dates/times imposed by airlines, customers are ultimately boxed, constrained, not in control.

Unscheduled flying is all about adapting to customer’s volatile and uncertain business needs. Flight bookings are usually at a short notice. Changes are multiple: the typical flight will go through many (last minute) changes to its departure time, routing, catering, passenger list and service requests before it is delivered. Also, contrary to flying commercial, this is a very personalized business: no 2 customers are hosted on board in the same fashion.

In short, the industry offers a fascinating value proposition but delivering it constitutes a significant logistical challenge, one that can only be addressed in a consistent and scalable manner through the use of technology and innovation.

When technology is a must

Technology enables global sales teams to reach out to markets that would otherwise only be accessible to locals. It helps generate brand awareness, 24/7 at reduced cost.   It allows operations to have a global view in real time of the many variables influencing a flight. It enables customer service teams to timely and accurately know who they are flying.  In turn, that knowledge empowers cabin and flight crew to confidently deliver a safe, bespoke and personalized service. Finally, it enables customers to have real time transparency throughout the flight preparation process and to be fully in control.

Companies around the world are spending incredible amounts in technology. Strangely, business aviation does not seem to follow the trend, however. Change naturally carries an inevitable component of risk and within a conservative industry  this is a forbidden word.  It also does not help that the market is very fragmented with many local operators managing a pulverized owner’s fleet. In order to be successful, technology initiatives require continuous capital investment that some businesses lack the size afford. Digitization – the practice of moving business processes to the digital world – is key to enable a business to consistently address the complexities of the industry.

As corporate and personal demand for tech converge, more of the customer touch points will go online. The drivers are simple and very similar to other industries :

  • Empowering customers makes a difference
  • Convenience is important
  • Instant customer access to live & online data is becoming the norm
  • Consistency is key

Some businesses have already advanced into the digital world: companies (brokers) offering price comparison for flights on a given routes across several operators.  Various seat sharing ventures have taken form. Undeniably, their contribution is finding competitive prices for their customers through technology – and they are good at it.

Price, although important, is not the the only lever of a value proposition. These businesses can never really consistently ensure the customer gets the best throughout the whole flight journey. They cannot fully guarantee the availability of an aircraft they do not own (subject to owner’s release). They can never really vouch for the consistency of a service which they have no control of.  The “holy grail” is to ensure all of customer touch points (beyond lead generation and sales) are improved and seamlessly moved online.

To deliver the ultimate flight experience, an organization must be able to influence every step in customer journey : from Sales to Operations to Cabin service to Catering to Finance and beyond.

Only technology can help make this fantastic business tool an even more powerful one.