By Angelo Fiataruolo
Communications technology has come a long way. While e-mail and video conferencing provide additional ways to connect with prospects, clients and colleagues, I argue nothing beats a face-to-face interaction. There is no better way to build a relationship, or solve an issue, than in-person, and in many cases that means travel.
While commercial travel makes sense for some business travelers, private business travel is an efficient and often cost-effective alternative. For those uncertain about the prospect of purchasing a company aircraft, but interested in private travel, charter services provide a way to dip your toes into private aviation without fully committing. The real value these businesses see when flying charter goes far beyond simply avoiding long security lines. Charter services provide businesses with expedited response times, expanded access and increased cost efficiency.
A Business Emergency.
Often, what spurs businesses to first utilize charter services is an unforeseen issue. Business emer-gencies, operational issues, or a potential new client that can be won or lost with an in-person visit may require last-minute travel.
An emergency trip from Overland Park to Shreveport, La., in a chartered Pilatus PC-12 can get you to the specific airport closest to your meeting in a mere 80 minutes. A commercial flight may involve 80 minutes of travel to and from the airports alone, plus layover time between connections. In fact, most commercial flights to Shreveport first go to Atlanta. Clocking in at a little over two hours, that first leg of your trip is already considerably longer than if you simply flew charter. All in all, your flight could easily end up taking close to six hours—each way. So it’s important to consider the potential loss of two days on one meeting if there’s a need for face-to-face communication.
Capture the Moment.
We live in a world of constant interruptions and continuous connectivity. Rarely is there a time when you are without your computer, tablet or cell phone, making you constantly accessible.
However, in the air you can limit those distractions. What many of our charter aviation clients have realized is the ability to capture a moment free from interruption during travel. Whether with a client, business partner or your banker, private aviation enables you to create that personal, distraction-free dialogue for the duration of your flight. What would you pay to have a key stakeholder’s undivided attention for 90 minutes?
Commercial flights provide access to roughly 500 airports, primarily in larger cities. While this may work for some business trips, companies often need to fly to smaller, satellite offices that lack direct access to a major airport.
By contrast, charter services provide access to more than 5,000 airports, often placing you directly where you need to do business. Places like Russell, Kan., or Fort Dodge, Iowa, which are often considered “fly-overs” by commercial airlines, are easily reached by charter—all without the need to change aircraft, rent a car or book an overnight hotel stay.
Factoring in All Costs.
Under close examination, it can be surprising how close the cost of charter is to commercial. Last-minute commercial flights to Shreveport can range from $600 to $1,200, round trip. By using an efficient charter option, the total cost of this flight, for up to six people, can come to just over $6,000.
Factoring in the additional human cost of traveling, specifically productivity, travel time and stress associated with travel, the cost/benefit analysis changes.
You can replace equipment and most other assets, but your management team is likely your most limited and critical asset. Providing efficient business travel options for senior leadership means less burnout, which will then lead to less turnover in positions not easy to fill. Additionally, because of the efficient use of your senior leadership’s time, their productivity will rise.
It won’t always be the answer, but with the expedited response time, expanded access and potentially higher cost efficiency, charter offers your business the opportunity to experience the ease of private aviation and determine whether it is right for you.
Angelo Fiataruolo is president of KCAC Aviation, a full-service aviation company in Kansas City.
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