As Dallas-based private jet operator JetSuite gets ready to enter its second decade the company is making sweeping changes to its SuiteKey jet card program. Stephanie Chung, JetSuite’s recently appointed president, tells Private Jet Card Comparisons the moves are part of a “complete brand refresh” that will hit “every touch point…from a new website to invoices. Our goal,” she says, “is to bring a premium experience to the light jet category,” adding, “Most of the competitors tend to focus on their heavy aircraft because that’s where the biggest margin is.”
The most notable changes are that JetSuite is switching to guaranteed availability and hourly-based fixed one-way rates. Previously, SuiteKey members had to compete with on-demand customers for availability within 90 days of departure, and while the program offered fixed prices, it was on a route-by-route basis. There were over five million pricing records! Hourly rates are now expected to be $4,600 per hour for the Embraer Phenom 100 and $6,500 per hour for the Phenom 300 excluding 7.5% Federal Excise Tax, with variations based on the tier you sign up for.
The new SuiteKey will offer three levels: $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000. Chung says at the now discontinued $50,000 tier customers were zipping through their funds quickly and then renewing at higher levels, which was something they viewed as a hassle. Delta Private Jets last month hiked its entry price point from $100,000 to $150,000.
In addition to addressing the biggest holes in its program – not having guaranteed availability and simplifying its pricing structure, Chung says the overarching focus is on delivering a premium experience by giving customers a bunch of new perks. In-flight snacks are being upgraded to Dean & DeLuca, customers at higher tiers will get complimentary catering from AirCulinaire, there’s a new partnership with Blade offering complimentary helicopter transfers, jet card members will get free flights on JetSuiteX they can use or assign to somebody else, and its new JetSuite Experiences will enable members to network at intimate events. As an example of the latter, the company is taking a VIP box at the upcoming Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers game in Las Vegas where LeBron James will make his debut in what will become one of the NBA’s hottest rivalries. In addition to giving top customers access to a hot ticket, it gives JetSuite senior executives an opportunity to mingle with and get more direct feedback from the folks who pay the bills.
Another discreet but significant change for service delivery is a newly created group of dedicated account managers who will work in teams and act as concierges for higher-tier jet-card customers. Chung says customers fly for “life-changing moments…Every flight our customers are making is an important trip to them, be it for a business meeting to close a deal, flying to the Mayo Clinic for treatments or simply to get home in time to see their daughter’s soccer game. We are changing our entire mindset that it’s not just about the flight. The trip starts from the time the customer calls us until they get wherever they are going.” She believes by having dedicated account managers it will give the company a better understanding of why customers are flying and enable JetSuite to deliver more personalized service.
Seemingly small changes such as the complimentary catering and higher quality snacks are important in building the higher end experience, according to Chung. With the vast majority of its flights under three hours and its light jet focus, most customers currently eschew ordering catering which is expensive even for routine items. “You get on the plane and all of a sudden, you’re hungry, and you want something to eat – something that’s high quality and healthy. Now, they’ll have a really premium selection. It’s something that will add to the overall satisfaction, ” she says.
The Blade partnership will provide complimentary helicopter transfers between the Downtown Los Angeles heliport and Santa Monica, Van Nuys, Burbank or Hawthorne and in New York from the East 34th Street heliport to Teterboro, White Plains, Farmingdale or Morristown. The number of comp transfers like catering and free JetSuiteX flights will vary based on the membership level you sign up at, but it underscores that customers book private flights to save time and JetSuite’s new end-to-end outlook. “You have this great 45-minute flight, get off the plane and then sit in traffic for two hours, and you forget about the great flight,” says Chung.
JetSuite recently finished tops in customer service, peak-day policies, and value for price paid in Business Jet Traveler’s 8th Annual Reader Survey coming in second to Sentient Jet in overall satisfaction so Chung feels the moves are a transition from strength to strength. While the program is being launched today, officials say some details are still be worked out, which we will update as we receive them. You can compare SuiteKey with over 250 jet card programs by becoming a paid subscriber of Private Jet Card Comparisons.