Kenn Ricci’s Directional Aviation does everything from repairing (Constant Aviation) and remanufacturing private jets (Nextant Aerospace) to pilot training (Simcom). Still, outside the industry, private aviation fliers likely most know it for its three consumer brands – Flexjet, Sentient Jet, and PrivateFly – all housed under OneSky Flight, LLC.
Now Tuvoli, which means, “to fly” in Italian, promises to make life easier for private jet charter operators and brokers, with several key benefits flowing directly to consumers. Greg Johnson, Tuvoli’s president and chief information officer for OneSky, says his goal is to take the friction out of on-demand charter.
Tuvoli pairs technology, modern methods of payment processing and charter industry intelligence on one clean platform, to unlock growth potential for private aviation companies of all sizes.Kenn Ricci, principal, Directional Aviation and Tuvoli
So while OneSky’s brands are themselves are among the largest B2B charter customers – Flexjet for supplemental lift during peak periods, Sentient Jet for its jet card customers, and PrivateFly for its on-demand brokerage – Tuvoli will seek to be a pan-industry solution offering operators and brokers the ability to transact and also wall off their data.
In a way, it’s not dissimilar to how in the early days of airline reservations technology, the airlines that owned a GDS like American Airlines with Sabre or United Airlines via Apollo provided third-party services to other airlines that oftentimes were competitors.
Johnson points out, “Even internally, we’ve been dealing with separate brands and separate sales teams, and we don’t share data, so it’s something we are sensitive to.”
“The entire industry is being held back by a lack of direct connectivity to each other, including the ability to pay or be paid, anytime, at rates that make sense; that was the driving force behind Directional Aviation’s incubation of Tuvoli,” said Ricci, adding, “Tuvoli pairs technology, modern methods of payment processing and charter industry intelligence on one clean platform, to unlock growth potential for private aviation companies of all sizes.”
So what are the benefits to consumers?
If you ever needed to get a last-minute re-quote on your charter because of a mechanical, a pilot being sick or the inbound flight getting delayed or diverted, you may have found your broker needed you to front the money for the replacement flight while he or she waited for the refund from your initial payment they had already passed along to the operator that canceled your flight.
In the case of Tuvoli, after you pay the broker, your funds are transferred to a protected account that Tuvoli cannot access. The operator can see the trip is funded, so they know they will get paid, however, the monies aren’t released to the operator until after you land safely at your destination.
If for whatever reason, the original operator cannot perform your flight, your funds can be quickly reimbursed and used to secure the replacement flight on a 24/7/365 basis, taking away worries about moving large amounts of money after hours or during holiday periods.
Another clever feature is an airport finder so you and your broker no longer have to figure out the closest airports from where you are and where you are going. By telling your broker the street address you will be leaving from and where you need to be after you land, Tuvoli uses Google maps to show your broker the various airports suitable for your flight on both ends, saving time spent using a less optimal choice.
The third benefit for consumers is that the platform handles everything from finding an airplane, ordering catering and special requests, to issuing invoices all from IOS and Android apps. It also tracks changes, so your broker can quickly see any updates and also receive confirmation they’ve been made. That should mean when you are on the phone with your broker, he or she will be able to make or request the changes you want on the app while talking to you.
Many people believe the renaissance of high-end travel agents was enabled by the smartphone, cutting the cord, or more specifically the need to sit in front of one of those green screen computer terminals from nine to five.
Now as these travel advisors tour a dozen new resorts in Bali scouting out the best suites and villas for their clients and x-off the ones that get noise from the Tiki bar, they can simultaneously change your Wednesday flight from Miami to Boston to Thursday, and do a bit of marketing by posting pictures in real-time on social media.
For top private jet charter brokers, who are speaking to customers, but then having to call back to the office or whip out laptops to actually get things rolling, Tuvoli envisions them being able to do everything from their phone.
There are no costs for operators to have their aircraft on the site or brokers to use the system, although there will be some type of transaction fee, which Johnson described as less than 1%.
Johnson says there are slightly under 4,000 private jets from just over 500 Part 135 operators in the U.S. it eventually hopes will be part of the live inventory. That list includes operators with at least one jet and excludes helicopters, air ambulances, and cargo companies that are also Part 135.
The platform provides the ability to add features and customization, including apps designed by third parties. A future example could be a streamlined carbon-offset option.
Several private jet charter brokers say they are intrigued to learn more about Tuvoli.
Peter Maestrales, CEO of Airstream Jets, which sells both jet cards and on-demand charter, says he likes the airport finder function, and while there are other payment functions designed for the charter market, he has yet to find one that meets his needs.
Having a comprehensive inventory of aircraft will be the key. In recent years smaller operators have been dropping off Avinode, one of the main platforms brokers use to source available aircraft, Maestrales says.
That means more time spent using additional platforms such as FlyEasy, Air Mail, and Air Charter Guide to source aircraft. Additionally, he will flight track tail numbers that recently arrived at an airport where he has a customer who needs a plane and even calls FBOs to find out about available airplanes.
“The smaller operators don’t necessarily update where their airplanes are, particularly on multiple platforms,” Maestrales says.
Andrew Flaxman, operations director for ExpertJet says if the system has the ability for operator and broker to confirm who pays for additional charges, for example, having to circle for 30 minutes, deicing and Wifi, it would be valuable so there are no after the fact misunderstandings. He says anything that saves time and streamlines workflow is worth a look.
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