Since Sentient Jet, inventor of the jet card, doesn’t sell on-demand charter, it has an advantage over the many private aviation providers pitching their online interfaces as booking and quoting tools. They’re taking advantage of that difference. Here’s how.
Sentient’s clients deposit money when they buy their prepaid jet cards in 25-hour increments. With it, they get contracted terms for how they can redeem their funds. That includes hourly rates for various sizes of private jets, how far in advance they need to book, and where they can fly.
It’s different than most “booking” apps you read about. Those claiming to be uberizing the private jet market are generally trying to attract one-off sales, called on-demand charters.
Even so, for the most part, they really aren’t booking apps or interfaces. They generate quotes or estimated pricing. The principal benefit is less for you and more for the provider. Most require you to provide your email and phone contact to actually get the quote, which may not even be connected with reality. The principal beneficiary is the provider, who can then ring you on the phone or pummel you with emails.
Sentient’s application of technology isn’t about trying to collect email addresses and phone numbers for future marketing. You’re already a client. Instead, it’s about making flying easier.
Sentient uses technology to reduce the “friction” of booking the flights members already purchased and managing their accounts. The app gives them an additional option to a desktop booking interface, phone calls, emails, or even texts.
Since launching its app in 2017, Sentient Jet has reached more than $125 million in mobile transactions and is anticipating hitting $150 million in mobile transactions by approximately June. In fact, $50 million of those bookings were in 2020.
Andrew Collins, CEO of Sentient, points to a McKinsey report that is the source of the oft-quoted statistic that only about one in 10 folks who could afford private jets were partaking before the pandemic. He notes in that same research, the group claims in the first 10 weeks of the pandemic, consumers made a 10-year leap in the tech adaption cycle. Driven by ordering groceries and drugs online, items they would normally visit the supermarket or pharmacy and buy in person, folks became comfortable clicking the buy button on their smartphones.
An interesting part of the story is bookings from the app are much higher than its desktop booking interface. That infers its customers are using the technology on the go, from their smartphones or other mobile devices.
Part of the popularity might also have to do with the fact the Sentient app is focused on the practical applications of completing a booking. For example, Collins says the app will alert you if you try to select an aircraft that’s not right for your mission. There’s also a live chat function if you have questions.
That might seem pretty basic. I’ve been testing dozens of digital interfaces, and you’d be surprised how many give you light jet options for flights from Los Angeles to Honolulu. If you aren’t sure why that’s a problem, that’s another reason you will appreciate Sentient’s approach.
Behind the online bookings are the same levels of quality control that goes into analog bookings. Client preferences are checked and verified just as they would be if you called up. In other words, if you make a mistake, you can still blame somebody else.
While Sentient doesn’t have to worry about using technology to sell its flights, its sensible approach for the app is probably one others should consider. It’s likely pitching media on stories about Uber-like apps is more effective. However, giving customers an additional and simple way to book flights and manage their accounts will likely resonate well with the folks who actually fly privately frequently.