In the hospitality industry, when the next newest and greatest opens up, it can mean serious declines in occupancy for existing resorts and hotels, as tour operators go with the latest and greatest, and ignore the old standbys.
Withthe business thus being not only seasonal, but also based on the whims of tour operators, it has created an unpredictable and thus nerve wracking field, with hotels and resorts literally having their customers held for ransom by tour operators.
Toresolve the conundrum, many hotels and resorts are looking toward a newsolution: chartering their own aircraft and bringing in their own customers. Just one advantage of shipping in their owncustomers is that rooms can be sold for full price—not the discounted blockrates demanded by tour operators.
Withreputable air charter services available that are willing to step in under avariety of lease agreements, an air service can be up and operating in a matterof weeks. The air charter service wouldfly the plane and supply the flight crew and attendants along with all requiredmaintenance and insurance. In fact, fullcharter options are available that include everything, right down to the magazinesand bags of peanuts. All the hotel or resortdoes is supply the passengers.
For hospitalitymanagers, chartering large aircraft can help cover times when the customers areall getting shipped elsewhere, or allow them to make the best of seasonalslumps by shipping their own customers in.
Aswith any industry, there are reliable operators and less reliableoperators. It is a significantundertaking to enter into a charter lease agreement, so the hospitality managerwould need to know how to pick a reliable carrier.
Choosingthe right air charter firm can virtually guarantee that flights proceed withouta hitch. Air flight logistics veteranssay that finding the best charter air carrier is not difficult when following abasic checklist. Listen to industrybuzz, research company track records, test the stability and transparency ofeach air charter service by asking probing questions.
Finding Reputable,Flexible Air Charter Services
Emily Duncan, operations manager for WorldwideCharters is well aware of the advantages charter air services can provide. Before expanding into domestic and internationaltours and corporate business trips, she organized flights for athletic teamsand the fans who wished to travel to bowl games and other events. She knows that the ideal charter carrier ishighly competent in maintenance and flight operations, and backs it up withstringent oversight.
“I’ve worked with a lot of airlines clarifyingcomplicated issues. I can quicklyascertain what type of person and company I am working with. If I’m putting my client and future businesswith that client in the hands of an air charter company, I need to know they’restrongly qualified and capable of delivering first class service.”
Chris Lapointe, general manager of Flair Air, aCanadian charter firm operating B737s and soon 767s backed by the venerablemaintenance provider Kelowna Flightcraft, says failure to address due diligencehas long-term consequences that can sink a charter aviation start-up.
“Thedue diligence aspect is important,” says Lapointe. “If flights are cancelled due to mechanicalfailures, or delayed while the charter company chases down a replacement part,clients are inconvenienced and that can be financially ruinous.”
Lapointealso warns hospitality managers entering into agreements with air charterservices to beware of the “implied sense of safety and quality” the airlineindustry exudes simply because it is “regulated.” He suggests utilizing online resources suchas the EU (European Union) blacklist or the Aviation Safety Network to researchcarriers.
“Anyonechartering aircraft should understand as much as possible about the carrierbefore they enter into an agreement,” says Lapointe. “It’s not always an equal comparison fromcarrier to carrier. Cost may be less,but also safety may be compromised.”
Competency andCustomized Comfort
Ben Nierop, president ofTravel Guild Inc. agrees that safety comes first. But once that competency has beenestablished, in today’s market his clients want customized comfort and highstandards in the cabin of an aircraft. The “economy” consciousness once associated with “working man” leisuretours is a thing of the past.
“I used to sell economy class seating for theseround-the-world trips, now the travelers want the big, luxurious seats. That puts pressure on me and my staff to finda charter company that can customize an interior to create VIP seating,” hesays.
If swapping out seats seems like a trivial issue,think again. Altering the Location ofPassenger Accommodations affects the aircraft balance. It is therefore a costly, time-consuming taskthat requires approval from strict civil aviation regulators.
Yet two years ago Nierop learned how quickly goodthings can happen when hiring a nimble, flexible and determined charter aircarrier.
Nierop’sties throughout the industry had made him well aware of a Canadian air charterfirm that had been on the rise since 2004. He called them within a month of the departure date of a world leisuretour. They were able to provide anaircraft with 72 business class seats, mount a crew, devise an internationalflight plan with ground services, and gain regulatory authority from 14jurisdictions. The company was FlairAir.
“Flair Air grabbed a job that had fourteeninternational destinations and made it all happen without a glitch. They are superbly professional. They were able to totally customize anaircraft, including painting the exterior to match brand. They’re willing to do it. Some companies say no,” says Nierop.
Duncanadds, “With the economy being the way it is, stability and financialtransparency are really important. Weknow, for example, their planes won’t suddenly be repossessed. This can happen with a lesser firm. You sign a contract and then a week laterthey are in bankruptcy and you have to eat the loss.”
Once the mechanical and flight operation detailshave been vetted, Duncansays successful aviation comes down to people. Travel customers want an air carrier that has a flight staff and crewthat are friendly, helpful, and show interest in the care and well-being of thepassengers.
“Receiving a beverage while in flight and beingspoken to nicely is important and can make all the difference with yourpassengers,” says Duncan. “Some people that purchase charter servicesforget about that.”
“An air charter service basically says, ‘leave theflying to us,’” concludes Lapointe. “Youhandle the business aspects of the hotel or resort. We can be in and operating a service in weeks.”
Formore info about Flair Air visit http://www.flairair.ca/or write Flair Airlines Ltd. 5655 Airport Way, Kelowna, BC, Canada V1V 1S1 or call(250)-491-5513. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org