By Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive of Luxaviation UK
Across business aviation globally, we all benefit when we work together. So many parties cooperate to create the perfect flight, from fixed-base operators (FBOs) to catering companies. Pilots and crew function seamlessly as a team to deliver the ideal passenger experience. And those passengers sometimes join forces to share fractional ownership of an aircraft none of them could afford individually.
Strong relationships between operators and their aircraft owners and clients are also absolutely vital to the success of the business aviation industry. And let’s not forget the very close and important relationships between operators and brokers. In fact, let’s look now at how brokers and operators work best together in more detail.
The mutual need is clear. For most operators, I’d say around 80% of business comes through brokers.
Shared customer service goals
The specialist knowledge of excellent brokers can be invaluable for operators and passengers. Yes, business aviation is an industry undergoing consolidation but existing fragmentation can still be challenging. Many parties must work together to execute a flight successfully. Operators greatly admire the well-connected brokers who can smoothly coordinate those disparate resources.
As well as the mutual need between brokers and operators, there must always be mutual respect. Amongst professionals, that respect is easy to achieve. After all, good brokers and operators want the same thing – to deliver the perfect flight experience to each and every one of their clients.
At Luxaviation UK, we really appreciate brokers who save us time, scrutinising all enquiries, ensuring the request is authentic and viable and establishing exactly what the client wants and needs before contacting us. Equally, we know brokers value precise responses from operators committed to meeting the flight requirements exactly.
Be very thorough and very quick
Alongside detail, speed of response is essential in building the broker/operator relationship. Whether communicating by phone, e-mail or through an online air charter marketplace, brokers want rapid quotes for clients often requesting last-minute flights. Delays are unacceptable, especially for demanding clients who feel frustrated when brokers, unlike airlines, cannot deliver instant confirmed prices.
Trust complements the respect between top-class brokers and operators. I consider many brokers my friends as well as my business colleagues and that trust is critical to our personal and professional relationships. I enjoy the time we spend together at exhibitions and I enjoy speaking to brokers at conferences, whether I’m giving a presentation, participating in a panel discussion or simply chatting at the venue.
To have trust, brokers need reliability. Every good operator is committed to never letting a broker down in any aspect of the service provided. From aircraft availability to cabin comfort, every detail matters.
Some brokers and operators formalise their relationships, officially joining forces as parts of larger aviation services groups. In September 2018, for example, OneSky, a Directional Aviation company whose portfolio of private jet travel businesses includes on-demand charter providers, bought broker PrivateFly. And, similarly, Dubai-based business aviation holding company Vista Global, owner of operator VistaJet, bought (and then rebranded) broker JetSmarter (now XO) this year. I suspect the idea of forming ‘brokerators’ will be explored by more business aviation companies in the near future.
Critically, however, all good brokers and brokerators acknowledge the client’s needs and safety must remain the first priorities. There must be transparency and an open market. No reputable brokerator would propose the use of a jet from the company’s own fleet when a better third-party option was available. The relationships between brokers and operators are vital elements of business aviation. When those relationships are strong, everyone wins. Most importantly, clients enjoy the benefits. Let’s make sure brokers and operators keep working together productively, sending our industry soaring higher than ever before.