Want to travel in style?
We caught up with the founder and CEO of Stratajet, Jonny Nicol to find out everything you need to know on the firms private jet booking service. This is what he had to say…
For those who don’t know, what is Stratajet?
Stratajet is a private jet booking service aiming to make private jets more accessible to the mainstream traveller and thus making it easier than ever before for travellers to get from A to B.
The app brings private jets to your fingertips, allowing you to search for and compare the largest range of aircraft for charter in real time and book them instantly. The app also shows the exact prices for your trip so you won’t be stung with any additional late charges.
How did you come up with the idea behind your business?
I have always been very passionate about flying; I trained as a fighter pilot with the RAF and then served in the British Army. After my stint in the military I worked as a freelance pilot, which included flying private jets. On one occasion I was flying an ‘empty leg’ [an aircraft that needs to be positioned without carrying passengers] from Nice back to London. It struck me that if it were possible to make empty flights such as this available to commercial passengers, private aviation would be able to reduce the industry’s inefficiency and wastage.
So the concept of Stratajet was born. I set about building a piece of software that would bring private jets online for the first time and streamline the booking process, making private jet travel more widely accessible.
What’s your USP?
Stratajet’s USP is its technology. Gone are the days of waiting for a quote from a broker or going back and forth on email, Stratajet allows you to search for, compare and book from the largest selection of private jets in seconds.
What’s more, Stratajet is able to automatically include empty legs in its search results. By determining if it would be cost-efficient to assign empty legs to flight requests and adapt them, where necessary, to suit the passenger, the system can reduce wastage across the industry, improving the margins of the aircraft operators and driving down the cost for the customer. Our ‘adaptive empty legs’ sell for up to
75 per cent off the original price, meaning that many flights on Stratajet.com compare in cost to first or even business class tickets on commercial.
How do people get involved? Is it a difficult process using a private jet?
In theory the process of using a private jet should be very simple. But the traditional method of phoning a broker has complicated the booking process.
Stratajet.com and the official Stratajet app make the booking process very simple. All customers have to do is enter where they’re going from and to, date and time of travel and number of passengers and the system will provide all the available aircraft for that flight. Once a specific aircraft is selected, passengers have the option to customise their flight by selecting the FBO of their choice and Stratajet’s client services team is available throughout the process to help passengers tailor every element of their journey.
Another unique element of Stratajet’s incredible technology allows you to enter your specific address and final destination and the system will work out the full travel time from A to B including transfers to and from the airports. Customers can choose to enter their preferred time of arrival and the system will work backwards to calculate their ideal departure time.
What’s been the company’s biggest success so far?
Now that the platform is operational, I believe the overriding success of Stratajet is the attraction of new customers to this means of transport. Due to the reduced inefficiency of the online booking process and our ability to include empty legs in searches, we’re making private jet travel more accessible. The proof is in our customer base, 32 per cent of whom are first-time private jet fliers. This is a staggering statistic when compared to the industry norm of less than one percent. Ultimately it’s our aim to give everyone who wishes to travel by private jet the opportunity to do so.
Have you won any awards?
We were delighted to be voted the ‘Company of the Year (Aviation)’ at the recent ACQ5 Global Awards.
What failures have you faced? How did you get through it?
Interestingly our biggest failure eventually turned into the major success story of the company’s build phase – and that was getting the technology to work.
It took us two years to programme a search engine intelligent enough to filter through all the various different fees that need to be considered when calculating the cost of a private jet. Stratajet makes upwards of 2.5m calculations when returning flight results but the first time we ran a search it took around 20 minutes to produce these final prices. The next stage of the technology build consisted of getting this down to a consumer-friendly time.
Eventually we had an idea that brought the search time down to around 12 seconds and I can’t describe how incredible and emotional that moment was for my team and myself. In hindsight it was a computer science miracle and we went from a worthless company to a company whose evaluation was increasing by a million a day.
What do you think is the best thing about your business?
Even though Stratajet offers a fully online booking system, passengers need not be concerned that they aren’t getting a personal service, as we also have an industry-leading customer service team that is available 24/7. When a customer makes a booking they are allocated a designated account manager for that journey and all elements of the booking can be tailored to meet any specific requests, whether it’s a particular dietary requirement or even taking a pet on board. Stratajet gives its customers complete control over every element of their booking.
What do customers think of the private jet experience?
That’s an interesting question because in my opinion private jets are now seen as a thing of luxury, when they should be seen as the more efficient means of travel. Efficiency is the concept that Stratajet is built on – optimising door-to-door private jet travel and offering you a way to save time getting from A to B. The booking process is completely streamlined and when it comes to travelling, there are no delays, no airport queues and no stress. Stratajet puts control back in the hands of the passenger.
We’ve had some very positive reviews on the Apple Store:
⦁ “Managed to get a quote within minutes, and completed my entire booking through the app with no issues.”
⦁ “Finally a way to search and book flights instantly – no waiting on quotes by email, no pushy salespeople.”
⦁ “What an amazing way to search and book jets!”
Where do you think the business will go in the future?
Having successfully launched the platform across Europe and in the United States, our key focus in the early stages of 2017 is
to maintain growth of the platform in these regions. We are continually speaking to operators in order to expand our network.
We are also looking at new markets. We are launching in Mexico and the Caribbean imminently and further expanding to the Middle East and Far East later in the year, with the aim of providing global coverage. We hope that there will be an industry defining moment when people will say there was private aviation before Stratajet and private aviation after Stratajet.