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When Adam Twidell, CEO and founder of PrivateFly, left the Royal Air Force, he began flying commercially in Europe. Before long, he noticed an opportunity for a business in the private aviation sector. In 2007, he and his wife, Carol Cork, the company’s sales and marketing director, created PrivateFly, a global booking platform for private jet charters.
Geoff Villano, senior vice president of sales for PrivateFly, sat down with us to talk about the company’s new preferred partner status with Virtuoso and the benefits of flying private.
What led to preferred partner status with Virtuoso?We went through quite an audit of questions that gave Virtuoso intensive information about us. Then, after doing surveys with a lot of its travel advisors as well as executives, they awarded us our preferred status in February.
One of the biggest takeaways in working with Virtuoso is to let travel agents and their clients know that private aviation is accessible to them. For a long time, advisors just didn’t view it as an option. We’re here to dispel that myth and offer something unique, especially for group travel.
What are some of the unique tools you have for agents?We bring technology to the table in the form of our price-estimate tool on our website. It helps agents understand quick estimates, even without having to call us; they can do it right online. The tool also helps them easily compare commercial and private flights for clients.
Additionally, our airport finder tool finds the closest airport to a client’s destination — there are 10 times more private jet airports than commercial airports. Our back-end system sends out the advisor’s request to a network of operators that we’ve vetted. Those operators then ultimately bid on winning the client’s business — it’s almost like a backward eBay. It keeps things very transparent and the cost competitive.
What types of amenities can luxury travelers expect with PrivateFly?We don’t operate nor own the aircraft; we are a middle person. There’s more than 7,000 aircraft globally across all the operators we deal with. Within the U.S. specifically, all aircraft are equipped with liquor, beers, wines, juices, sodas, cookies and snacks. But, if you want to have any sort of additional catering, we can have that set up as well — anything from caviar to an In-N-Out Burger. We can also brand an aircraft inside and out for corporate events, birthdays or any other occasion.
It’s also all about personal service. If a gentleman who flies from New York to Europe wants his bed to be made before getting onboard, or he wants it to be 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the cabin before he gets on the plane, we can have these things arranged. The pilots can even fly at different altitudes, depending on what the client wants, as long as it’s allowed within Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
How else does PrivateFly support its clients’ needs?Having our headquarters in London and our U.S. office in South Florida, we’re able to have people working around the clock. With the different rotations, somebody is always available over the phone. We have a very knowledgeable, passionate flight crew team. They know their aircraft from top to bottom. They are familiar with types of aircraft, runways, airports and geographical locations.
We’ve done it for 10 years, we’ve done it well, and we will continue to grow and make our processes better. Plus, by 2019, we plan to have a West Coast bureau.