Stratajet founder Jonny Nicol reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the fast-growing segment of private jet users are aged between 18 and 26. In other words, Generation Z.
What is Stratajet and why is it innovative?
Stratajet is a private jet booking platform – available via stratajet.com or the Stratajet app – that is the first in the world to give fliers direct access to the private jet marketplace.
Where it’s innovative is in the incredible technology that allows this to be the case. We’ve removed the time-consuming, old-fashioned means of booking a jet via a broker and built an incredibly user-friendly interface that does millions of complicated calculations – that were previously done manually by aircraft operators, and still are in other companies – in mere seconds.
This makes it easier than ever before to get from A to B by allowing customers to search for a particular flight, without having to go through a broker, see accurate costs of as many as 50 aircraft available to charter for that flight – not just a select few – and book instantly.
Describe a typical user – who are you targeting?
That’s a very interesting question because the perception of private jet travel is one of a luxury toy for the rich and famous but our vision is to give everyone who wishes to fly by private jet the opportunity to do so.
Typically, private jets have been employed by CEOs (and celebrities) but our bookings are a mix of business and leisure.
The 18-26 year old age bracket is the fastest growing and we estimate that around 30 to 40 per cent of our bookings are families travelling with children.
What are you doing to attract younger travellers?
The fact is that we truly are doing something to attract a younger segment of travellers, when no other provider is. The trouble with the traditional booking process I mentioned is that operators can often be reticent to provide quotes to first-time flyers.
They see this as a risk since the booking is less likely to be finalised and paid for than with a regular private jetsetter. The result has been a slowly ageing customer base across private aviation, with the industry struggling to attract new and younger audiences.
However, the immediacy of Stratajet is paving the way for a new and younger audience of travellers to benefit from the perks of private jet travel. Because we can provide accurate costs of flights instantly – without any work being required from operators – we’re making private jet travel available to a new wave of flyers.
What are the key differences between Stratajet and other young jet companies such as SurfAir, JetSuiteX, XOJet and Jetsmarter?
Other providers have different models but they are still based on the principle of a broker organising your flight requirements for you. Even platforms that claim to provide an online service don’t actually do what they say “on the tin”.
Rather their websites collect flight requests and these are then pushed out to operators, who have to manually calculate the costs. Once quotes are delivered, you then have to finalise the booking with your broker.
It’s a terrible, long-winded, convoluted and inefficient process and, due to commissions taken by the broker, unnecessarily pricey.
In contrast, Stratajet is the only platform that has built, from scratch, its own technology that can make these calculations, meaning that aircraft are right at fliers’ fingertips.
It also has no hidden fees or membership costs.
Can Stratajet accurately be described as the Uber of private jets?
That’s an easy analogy and other companies are claiming a similar “tagline” but Stratajet is far more complex than that – it’s a remarkable piece of technology. On day one I asked myself why such a system had never been built before; and after five years of labouring to get the technology to work, it’s now obvious.
The reason is the vast complexities involved in calculating how much a private jet flight will cost. Whereas aggregators such as Skyscanner and Expedia make it easy to book seats on commercial aircraft, the nature of private jet travel – in that it offers a bespoke service – brings with it the need to calculate the cost of every potential flight from scratch.
There are 15 sets of fees involved, each with hundreds of variables, and the Stratajet search engine can make upwards of 2.5 million calculations every time a customer requests a flight.
How many active users do you have?
We’ve enjoyed some very strong growth since our launch and now have over 10,000 members. But “members” is a misleading word as we’re not an exclusive community. It’s important to note that – unlike other providers – our membership is free and doesn’t require a long-winded sign-up process.
You can get a flight costs without even registering and it only takes an email address to “sign-up” before going through to the booking page.
How much does it cost to fly on a private jet? Is it only for the super rich?
Not as much as you’d think. The average booking via the Stratajet app is around £6,000 but the platform comes into its own on trips where groups of friends are travelling together. We can often be priced better than the equivalent cost per person for business class seats on commercial flights.
Naturally there are always different ends of the spectrum and our dedicated customer service team is always on hand to help you customise your trip if you wish to add a little extra – perhaps a chauffeur pick-up or a particular bottle of champagne – to your flight.
What destinations can people fly to?
Any destination they like. The beauty of private jet travel is that the flight will work around your travel requirements. Stratajet is particularly clever as you can enter the address you want to travel to and from, and the system will calculate the best airfields for you to use.
There’s much more choice of airfields too. We’re live in 44 countries across Europe and there are over 2,100 airfields available to private jets, whereas only 500 are regularly used for commercial travel.
So there is huge scope to get to locations that are “off the beaten track”. It invokes a sense of adventure in exploring new places. For example, someone from London wishing to visit the remote and beautiful island of Islay in the inner Hebrides would have to fly to Glasgow on a commercial flight before connecting on a smaller aircraft.
Naturally there would also be a lot of waiting around for flights and transfers. When flying privately, however, you can go direct and be salmon fishing or whisky tasting in no time.
What advice would you give a first-time user?
Before Stratajet I would have advised to shop around. But now that the marketplace is available to all, I’d simply suggest visiting stratajet.com and seeing for yourself how easy it is to charter a jet. If you’ve got any questions, phone our charter team and they’ll be happy to help guide you through everything.
What is the future of private jets?
Our dream is to make private aviation available to the mainstream traveller and we’re already opening up the industry as shown by our customer base – 32 per cent of whom are first-time private jet fliers, which is a staggering statistic when compared to the industry average of less than one per cent. It shows just how much the industry has been struggling to attract new customers.
As more and more people use Stratajet, we believe there will be a watershed moment in the industry – private aviation “before Stratajet” and private aviation “after Stratajet”. It’s a total game-changer.