Why PrivateFly.com won FlightGlobal’s Site of the Year award February 9, 2011Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing.
Tags: Aerospace, BizAv, eBusiness, International Business
When FlightGlobal’s 2010 webbies winners were announced last week, it was probably the first time many people in the industry heard of PrivateFly.com. This small UK-based company was founded just over four years ago by Adam Twidell, an ex-RAF pilot and NetJets alumni. The company’s purpose is to compare instant pricing and book Private Jet flights from an accredited global network of operators. PrivateFly aims to bring the use of business aircraft into mainstream air travel. Sounds interesting, but what is so special about PrivateFly.com?
PrivateFly exemplifies how the Internet can be used to solve challenges that cannot be addressed in any other way, offering the possibility of truly industry changing innovation. Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly, agrees: “Every other area of travel and brokerage has been transformed by the Internet. Despite the creation of giants like NetJets and others, BizAv is still an extremely fragmented industry. For example, there are over 700 operators in Europe alone. We are aiming to be the disruptive technology that finally offers customers the transparency and flexibility they need to book a private flight from a safe and reliable operator at a competitive price.”
To achieve this goal, Twidell and his team have been hard at work designing the powerful technology behind the website. Harvesting data from aircraft databases, airport information, and other public sources, the development team in India produced a simple interface design with efficient functionality. Then it was time to involve the community of Operators. “That was the hardest part, but the recession helped a lot”, says Twidell. “Many operators were worried that this platform would generate price wars that would lower the value of their services. But once they saw that this was much more about safety, reliability, and transparency, they started coming on board. Our platform does not sacrifice luxury or customer service in favor of price. It provides the potential customer with knowledge to make an informed decision with the confidence they obtained the value they wanted. Small operators with a handful of jets but that offer great service can now be recognized globally on the value they provide rather than by the size of their marketing budgets.”
PrivateFly harvests industry knowledge and public information to instantaneously provide a “ballpark” pricing for any global trip from a small jaunt in Florida to a safari trip from the UK to Kenya. It then aims to educate the customer with the choice of aircrafts available for the trip as well as airport information. Finally it offers to send out for a formal quote from its network of operators. In the RFQ, the customer can specify additional requirements such as aircraft age or other services to further refine the list of targeted operators. The application is also available on iPhone. Already quite an achievement, Twidell says this is just the beginning: “We are working on introducing a feedback loop from both operators and customers to help raise the bar on quality. We also want to use technology to help educate customers about choices and options. Too many times have I flown American customers into Heathrow because nobody ever bothered to tell them about some of the other London BizAv airports such as Northolt or Farnborough that would have saved them thousands of dollars and potentially hours of ground transfer time. I would like to see the website offer customers alternatives based on aircraft size, final destination (after the airport), or specific services required. I also want to develop the mobile application to support the actual flight, not just the booking. For example, I think customers should be able to precisely locate their aircraft and access its pilot on their way to the airport from the convenience of their iPhone. ”
Today, the company is gathering momentum based on the successes it has earned with a number of operators as well as its stringent quality control. PrivateFly has dropped several operators from its network when they failed to meet its required service standards. Now in the middle of their next financing round, the company plans on expanding both its technology and its network with the £2M it hopes to raise.
PrivateFly has the potential of changing Business Air Charter in the same way iTunes changed the music industry. As its community grows, so will its functionalities and before you know it, this website will be the de-facto standard for private jet booking. Because it aims at profound industry changes by promoting transparency and distributed knowledge through web-based innovation, PrivateFly.com deservedly earned FlightGlobal’s Site of the Year award.