New, ultra-exclusive destinations: Because of the shifting, post-COVID reality, travelers will seek new, previously inaccessible, ultra-luxury destinations for a one-of-a-kind yet safe vacation experience. These under-touristed destinations will only be accessible by private air and will reap the economic benefits that tourists bring to local economies.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Kiefer Sayer.
Lisa Kiefer Sayer has over 20 years of aviation experience, including 10 years as Director of Charter, 8 years of charter sales and 3 years in aircraft sales. In addition to sales she handled all flight operations and flight services where she dealt directly with each airport location domestically and internationally. In 2013 she started her own Part 135 charter consulting company Jet Run Aviation. Here she spent several years successfully turning around the sales departments for multiple Part 135 operators. One of her signature trademarks became the ability to connect her retail clients (travelers) directly with available charter aircraft. After watching the changes in the industry over the years and listening to her client’s needs, she realized there was an opportunity for a better way to sell charter direct to travelers. This in turn led to her next startup company, JetASAP. JetASAP is a real-time aircraft charter booking service that transparently connects travelers with aircraft operators through a mobile application. The service allows travelers to submit a charter quote request which is automatically sent out to their worldwide operator network of over 6,000 aircraft. Operators are then able to respond with all their information and send live bookable quotes back through the APP where travelers can select and book trips direct with each individual operator. Traveler’s information remains strictly confidential until time of actual booking. More specifically, travelers can create a JetASAP profile and use the service freely with no fees, memberships or commissions. The service also allows travelers the ability to manage all their trip requests and booked trips directly from within the APP, as well as chat on demand in real-time with relevant parties in order to facilitate rapid communication to answer questions, share information and resolve issues.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was working in charter sales for an operator and sold a trip on one of their Falcon 50 aircraft (a supermid jet) to a charter broker from Raleigh Durham to Seattle for 25,000 dollars. The passenger had a medical issue prior to the flight which the crew handled impeccably. The broker called me and said they had multiple issues with this client and were glad they sold her the trip for 40,000 dollars! I realized in that moment that there had to be a better way for people to avoid paying such outrageous fees using an open market to send requests and receive multiple quotes directly from charter operators. I started JetASAP a month later to do exactly that.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think that the most interesting thing has simply been the response we’ve received from flyers. I knew that they would appreciate having direct access as a matter of convenience and efficiency, but I was not prepared for the outpouring of emotional support we’ve received. They are honest to goodness shocked that they suddenly have unrestricted access to a previously tightly controlled world and can see what trips actually cost. It’s humbling to watch how quickly people have embraced us, but it’s invigorating at the same time since this is exactly what we built JetASAP to do.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A client booked a trip for 11 passengers on an aircraft that only seated 10. During booking, the operator missed this detail; fortunately, one of our reps caught it. Service being of the utmost importance, I immediately and admittedly somewhat impulsively, called the client to explain the situation. He calmly responded, “We already handled the situation directly with the operator over chat”. Due to the overwhelming relief, I said, “Oh, that’s great, I could kiss you right now!” — realizing immediately after, this was not a professional choice of words! Fortunately, he laughed immediately and replied, “Thank you, but that won’t be necessary”. While he was so gracious in his response, it does not minimize the embarrassment I felt thereafter.
Lesson Learned: Sometimes we need to step back for a second and stay out of the middle unless we’re asked to get involved — the whole point of the app!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
Working as part of a charter sales team it is typically a 24/7/365 affair, and it is easy to get sucked in and lose track of yourself. Some of our busiest times are when most people want to be with their own families. It is very important for people to have hard time off as most smaller operations have people on call even when they are not in the office or working from home as most are doing now. It is very important to have some backup even if it is a crew member or the owner of the company.
Ten years ago, I was working charter sales for a small operator with five aircraft. I was doing sales, dispatch, flight following and selling 40–80 hours of flying on each aircraft every month. One day, after close to three years with no time off as the only person on call 7 days a week, I was getting ready for a horse show. As I put my foot in the stirrup to ride, my phone started ringing off the hook, so I literally threw it down a driveway as hard as I could. It just bounced over an over down the driveway, ringing constantly the whole way. I started laughing and thought to myself, “this is nuts, I can’t even break my phone so nobody can find me!” After that day, I finally took some well-deserved time off.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am forever grateful for our investor. She has been instrumental in the launch, support and growth of JetASAP. Her belief in me, our team and the company’s vision are amazing.
I remember sitting with her and pulling out my huge art book with all my drawings of how I envisioned the company. We went through every diagram, flow chart, potential revenue model and business plan I created. I left her home that day not expecting anything, especially since I have never pitched anything to anyone before. I met with her a couple days later and she simply said, “Let’s do it.” We wrote our deal in a spiral notebook, each signed it and that was that. We both laugh at my “presentation” now since I did not show up with a professional pitch deck, but rather just my passion and determination. I honestly cannot describe how wonderful it is to have her support, and I was, and still am, on cloud nine. We hit the ground running and have never looked back. She gives me great insight and ideas based on all of her own considerable success and experience. I listen and have learned to heed her advice to help further the success of myself and JetASAP.
I also want to express my deep gratitude for my entire JetASAP team, all of whom have all been instrumental in getting the company to where it is today and continually making it better. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with, and we have incredible people.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We definitely have it in our future plans to bring amazing goodness to the world — and goodness comes in all forms. After all, helping others is a core value for me and part of what inspired me to start the business to begin with! In the meantime, with JetASAP being new, our focus is to continue to make the aviation charter industry more transparent and more accessible to the world, one trip at a time. In doing so, we feel comfort knowing we are bringing peace of mind to those who want to keep their families safe from Covid-19 when traveling, and even to those who thought private travel was beyond their reach.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the Aviation and Air Travel industries?
There are so many companies that try to automate charter by integrating with scheduling software to produce quick quotes via third party vendors. These quotes are not real and must always be backed up by live bookable quotes sent in by each charter operator. It is simply not practical to automate for a variety of reasons, and it just does not work.
With JetASAP, we took the manual process that currently works and automated it only where it makes sense to do so. By taking this hybrid approach, we are able to make the process of requesting and receiving live bookable quotes a simple automated process, while at the same time allowing clients to communicate directly with operators on their own terms to get important questions answered.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing these innovations?
Allowing flyers to directly source and book their private travel without the help of a third party, whether human or digital.
We are addressing the much-needed option for a “DIY” platform that allows flyers to take control of their travel and book directly with charter operators. Until now, flyers have not been able to source and book directly with operators on one platform without the help of a third party such as membership services, jet card providers and on-demand charter brokers, each of which comes with additional fees. With one click of a button on the JetASAP app, flyers can send their trip requests out to over 700 operators across the U.S., receive live quotes, communicate directly with operators via chat, phone or email, and ultimately book the option that best fits their needs.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
Like Airbnb disrupted the hospitality industry, JetASAP disrupts the private aviation industry as third parties have largely controlled access to private aircraft charter for over 20 years. This leaves the charter industry largely unchanged since the late 90’s. JetASAP is democratizing the industry by providing access to the same information on a scale previously available only to industry insiders. While a flyer could always search for operators online and contact them directly, it is a time consuming and sometimes frustrating process. By aggregating quote information in a single place via a trip request, as well as directly facilitating the pre-booking communication, trip booking and post-booking information exchange, we allow flyers to source and book their own private travel quickly and efficiently via a simple app that guides them through the process. JetASAP now gives the control back to the flyers.
Are there exciting new technologies that are coming out in the next few years that will improve the Air Travel experience? We’d love to learn about what you have heard.
There is a lot of exciting innovation happening right now, including new electric propulsion systems that will lower operating costs considerably, and therefore make private aviation far more accessible in the form of short haul air taxis and eventually, longer range regional charter. At the other end of the spectrum, quieter supersonic flight technology is evolving rapidly that will soon allow private flyers to cross the continent without concern for the associated noise pollution that previously relegated such travel to ocean crossings only.
As you know, the Pandemic changed the world as we know it. For the benefit of our readers, can you help spell out a few examples of how the Pandemic has specifically impacted Air Travel?
Traditionally, the private jet set comprised individuals with a net worth of 10 million dollars+, but recently due to COVID JetASAP has seen a huge uptick from a new demographic of travelers with a net worth of 2 dollars to 3 million dollars. The increased interest can be attributed to the worldwide pandemic, during which health and safety have become paramount. A recent survey of JetASAP clients underscores the rapid shift in flyer demographics. Responses indicate that a large percentage typically fly first class but have shifted to private aviation due to the number of private charter options and accessible pricing they regularly encounter on the JetASAP app.
Can you share five examples of how the Air Travel experience might change over the next few years to address the new realities brought by the Pandemic? If you can, please give an example for each.
Increase in personal charter travel vs. business charter travel:
In the past, private charter used to be mainly composed of business travelers. We now see a shift towards leisure travel, which we predict will continue over the next several years. At the moment, while lockdowns and restrictions vary from state to state and country by country, the discerning flyer can simply charter to an open location for some vacation time or move family members who are concerned about health and safety. Going forward, this new customer base will continue to utilize private charter for their travel needs.
Shifting from commercial air to private air travel:
Travelers who typically flew with their families in first class cabins are now entering the private aviation space. This trend will only grow in the years to come, and we see JetASAP playing a key role in making private aircraft travel more accessible than ever.
A new demographic of flyers with a net worth of 2 dollars-3M dollars is entering the private aviation charter market:
Travelers and families who typically take 1 to 3 family vacations per year are moving into the charter marketplace to book private air travel due to the global pandemic. Many high net-worth individuals who would not justify spending money on a private jet charter in the past can justify it now.
More private jet shuttles and shared flights:
With limited commercial flight route options, some private air companies are trying to venture in to the selling seats charter market. At JetASAP we are experiencing an increase in requests for shared flights, i.e. clients trying to coordinate their travel together with others (one-way or round-trip) to help offset the price of the charter.
New, ultra-exclusive destinations:
Because of the shifting, post-COVID reality, travelers will seek new, previously inaccessible, ultra-luxury destinations for a one-of-a-kind yet safe vacation experience. These under-touristed destinations will only be accessible by private air and will reap the economic benefits that tourists bring to local economies.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
In an ideal world, I would start two movements. The first one would focus on tapping into the knowledge and experience of both seniors and our veterans to help them contribute to a variety of industries in a meaningful way. Often, we take people at face value and don’t take the time to understand ways in which they might be able to contribute. I would love to build an organization that matched companies with these valuable members of our society to help them make a meaningful impact.
The second one would focus on helping troubled or handicapped children and youth using my other love, horses. They are highly intelligent, attuned to peoples’ emotional states, and are typically great judges of character. Because of this, they are great for helping people with emotional and physical issues find confidence and self-worth. I’d love to create an organization to help build self-esteem and impart the value of caring for something that gives unconditionally.