In an industry where salespeople are sometimes viewed as too aggressive, and where there are all sorts of independent contractor business models (for example bartenders and bottle hostesses) and other brokers who lack industry experience selling private jet services, there is often the perception that it’s all about closing the deal, and sometimes it is.
With the above in mind, it makes sense XOJET believes it’s taking a contrarian approach, starting with the fact that it calls its salespeople “advisors.” Behind the focus is longtime New York-based NetJets sales executive Gregg Slow, who has been with the San Francisco area headquartered operator and broker for five years.
Slow has been growing XOJET’s brokerage model it launched in 2009. The company took flight in 2006. It owns and operates 41 Bombardier Challenger 300 and world’s fastest jet, the Cessna Citation X, giving it the perspective of both an aircraft owner and broker.
Slow, Executive VP of Sales and Client Services, says, “You don’t establish a (deep) relationship (with the customer) until something goes wrong or you go out and see them face to face,” so not surprisingly he encourages his sales team to go out and meet customers. XOJET has 36 aviation advisors based in offices in New York, San Francisco, and Orange County and is about to open an office in Palm Beach, Florida. It also has salespeople based in Boston, Ohio, North Carolina and Scottsdale, Arizona. Many of the face-to-face meetings are at airports, as in private airports, which speaks to the XOJET customer target.
XOJET is looking for the frequent private aviation user, somebody flying one to two times a month. Its focus is on “wealth centers” such as New York, South Florida, Los Angeles and the San Francisco/San Jose corridor. Slow says XOJET has over 7,000 clients, about 1,200 in its two programs, Preferred Access and Elite Access. The later provides a guaranteed rate of $8,500 per hour on its fleet and is targeted for Fortune 500 companies where the CFO needs to be able to budget usage and needs to understand what type of plane will be carrying executives. There is a minimum $200,000 prepayment. Preferred is a broker program with dynamic pricing where your XOJET salesperson provides you with various options. It requires a $100,000 deposit. Look for some announcements in the near future.
XOJET ticks off all the boxes when it comes to third-party safety audit checks, including IS-BAO of which there are only about 700 operators worldwide. In terms of going off-fleet, we like that XOJET only says it offers access to 1,200 aircraft. We frequently see private aviation companies throw around numbers like 7,000, which simply refers to every Part 135 airplane out there without any regard to the quality of the aircraft.
We did try to find out more about the upcoming program announcements, but no luck. We’ll keep trying. Hopefully, you noticed despite being around just two months Private Jet Card Comparisons was first to report on new programs from VistaJet, Netjets, Magellan Jets and Private Jet Services Group here, as well as the big executive changes at Delta Private Jets and Surf Air, so we do our best for you!
“The (XOJET) Elite program is for the Fortune 500 client who needs a guaranteed aircraft in 24 hours at a guaranteed price…Elite Access program is targeted to the Monday to Thursday traveler,” Slow says.
Elite reservations lead-time is actually 12 hours, and there are only 20 peak days where the lead-time is 120 hours. Its own fleet is 100% WiFi equipped. There is no peak travel surcharge (some fractional cards have surcharges up to 40%). Minimum flying time charged is 1.5 hours and you get a $400 per segment catering credit. The minimum age for sending unaccompanied minors is 13 years old. De-icing is extra. Service area is the Continental U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. You can get your money back at any time, and there is no expiration date. There is also no escrow program. The company is privately held by TPG (think Neiman Marcus and the money behind the 1990s turnaround at Continental Airlines) and Mubadala (Abu Dhabi-based). The company along with Sentient Jet and NetJets has built up one of the industry’s most extensive partnership programs with luxury hotels, concierge services and its hometown NBA champion Golden State Warriors for VIP access.
“I want our team to come in without a hidden agenda. Our mission is to be the trusted advisor and service provider of choice both for business and personal use for private aviation. (It’s) client first, company second and self-interest last, and good things will happen to you,” Slow says. “You want people’s business (but) if they’re not right for XOJET (we) introduce them to somebody who is right for them.”
Slow believes the XOJET approach combines his sales experience, including the integrity of NetJets and being able to work with from an “open canvas” when he came to XOJET. “We’ve built something that’s very different that what our industry is accustomed to. The reputation of brokers is like a used car salesperson,” he says.
Slow names NetJets, Flexjet, Sentient Jet and Delta Private Jets as key competitors, adding, “We’re in a market share play.”
Speaking about its Preferred Program, Slow says XOJET’s best customers are “efficient fliers (who) book in advance, don’t make last minute changes or cancellations (fly) the right cabin class…not one to two-hour flights (but) three to five-hour flights (and are) flexible on departure time (and are) not just peak period (travelers).”
He says, “If you are booking and canceling last minute and (flying) peak periods and only new planes (or are located) edge of the network where there aren’t a lot of charter-friendly (operators) fractional is great.”
Slow says about Preferred, “If you have flexibility…we’re going to play the market for you. We shop on a per trip basis” using its own and partner fleets. “We show the customer (the options) and they choose” based on what your budget is for that trip.
We would like to see XOJET offer guaranteed pricing for whatever new programs it will be unveiling at the Preferred Level. If it can beat the guaranteed pricing, that would be a nice point of difference enabling customers to know what the hourly rate ceiling is before wiring your $100,000.
Private aviation, Slow says, is like your investment portfolio with many heavy users having multiple solutions, so his goal is to be part of your private aviation fulfillment.