Have you ever thought about what luxury items you would purchase if you hit that multi-million-dollar jackpot? Your entire life would change essentially. To top it all off, you’d have more freedom to travel more, so one luxury purchase you may consider is a private jet charter. URComped CEO, Craig Shacklett, talks to Vault Aviation’s co-founders, Wes Hull and Paul Taskalos, to get the low down on the private jet experience and how it all works. Listen to podcast version.
Topics discussed include:
- What is Vault Aviation
- Vault Aviation’s business model
- The booking process
- Vault Aviation’s professional athlete market
- How COVID-19 has affected business
- Pricing variants
- The onboard experience (amenities and service)
- Jet Card Loyalty Program
- Foundations and Charitable partnerships
Full Transcript Below
(0:00-0:35) Craig Shacklett: Hi Everybody Craig from URComped here with a Comped Travel Interview. I’ve been talking about doing this for 2 years. Because I know at some point a URComped customer is going to hit a multi-million-dollar jackpot. Lives are going to change. And they’re not going to fly on Southwest Airlines in the C Class in the middle seat anymore. They are going to fly private. We’ve got an interview here today with Vault Aviation CEO and President. We’ve got Paul and Weston. Guys, thanks so much for being here.
(0:35-0:37) Paul Taskalos and Weston Hull: Thanks for having us.
(0:37-0:41) CS: Wes, why don’t you tell us about Vault Aviation?
(0:41-2:23) WH: Paul and I started this about almost a little over 4 years ago now. Basically beginning of 2016. Funny enough
we’ve actually been best friends going all the way back about 20 years ago. It’s about 8th grade. We never really had planned on getting into business together. But kind of the stars aligned timing-wise. He was an attorney and I was working for a different aviation company here in Dallas. We were unhappy like so many other Americans and people with their job. And so let’s just go for it. And how many times do you get the opportunity to start a business with your best friend? Fast forward to now. We’ve grown year over year. We have a blast. It’s a private jet charter on demand. Fly our clients on anything from turboprops to G650’s and everything in between. Full-service, international, domestic, local. Any type of plane you want as soon as you need it. We do last-second stuff. Stuff months in advance. We really haven’t met a trip or a need that we can’t fulfill yet. We’re just continuing to grow. We work primarily about 2/3 of our client base right now are in the sports world, athletes, coaches. Works well for us. It allows us to bring another passion of ours into the fold which is sports. It’s been a fun ride so far and hope we continue keep it going
2020 and beyond.
(2:23-2:31) CS: That’s wonderful. How does the business work? How do you guys make money by chartering a plane like this?
(2:31-4:41) PT: Sure. Basically what our business model is we’re a pure brokerage. So basically we are reaching out to our network of safety-vetted aircraft owners and operators. And then we purchase an individual flight. And then we resell it to our end-user client. We do the work of sourcing the aircraft. Make sure it meets the needs. The number of passengers. Depending on where it’s going only certain planes can land in certain cities or in certain airports. If there’s stuff like… Are you going to bring golf clubs? Are you bringing pets or skis? There are certain planes that are better for each one of those. We’re using our expertise in the aircraft to select the best one for our clients’ trip. For any particular trip lets say someone wanted to go to Vegas for a weekend. They say, “Hey, we need Friday through Sunday round-trip to Vegas for 6 people.” So we’d go ahead and reach out from anywhere. 5, 10 to 20 different aircraft operators. Then we’d get this range of prices. And we’ll identify the best plane to meet our client’s needs. And then we’ll negotiate on price. And then we present it to our client with our mark-up on it. And that’s kind of how we monetize the business. We use our negotiating skills and our expertise in finding the best, safest aircraft. And then it’s a service that a lot of our clients are really appreciative of because they trust us. They know we’re going to give them a safe
airplane that they’re going to have a good time. So the small mark-up we throw in there, it’s pennies compared to what the entire plane cost. But we’ve had a real successful track record of just being the best in the industry on price just because we negotiate a little bit harder than other people do. I was a lawyer. Weston used to work for an NFL agent. So just kind of in our blood to kind of
negotiate hard and get the best deal.
(4:41-4:53) CS: So when you say operators reach out to 5 or 10, 20 different operators, does that mean people that own the planes? Or those people like manage multiple planes for different owners? Or what’s an operator?
(4:53-5:58) WH: Both. The vast majority of the private jets you see friends, celebrities, whomever booking. They’re owned by a business or a corporation. And when they’re not, the days that they’re not using it, the owners that is, they basically have a company. Aviation company manage it and market it and quote it out so that they can make some revenue on those flights to offset their fixed costs like pilots, maintenance expenses. All those things that really add up as an owner. And there are a handful of big companies out there as well big operators that they own the fleet outright themselves. So they’re just strictly charter planes. So it’s a little bit of mixing both. And there’s some pros and cons to go in either direction. We have a mix of both. Just depends on what kind of plane you want. And that’s really where we determine what direction we go versus whether its aircraft that’s wholly owned by a company. Or whether it’s a charter aircraft owned by a single individual.
(5:58-6:10) CS: In general, is a plane constantly on the move? They don’t want their planes just sitting there not making money.
(6:10-7:29) PT: It really just depends on whether it’s individually owned by just a charter company. All they do is charter out the planes. Then they want that thing flying all the time. Because they’re making money all the time. If its one where its a managed aircraft. So if it’s a managed aircraft anytime we want to book it the management company has to go get approval from the aircraft owner. So sometimes they’ll turn down a trip for any number of reasons like they may need the plane or we’ve had some people say, “We don’t like to do flights to Vegas.” Because they think everyone’s going to party and destroy their plane. Or “We don’t want to do a trip that has a dog on it because it could pee on the airplane.” All kinds of stuff. It really depends. And you’ll get like the weirdest reasons for people not accepting trips. But it’s kind of a toss-up between which one is better. They both have pros and cons. The managed aircraft tend to be in better shape because they’ve flown a lot less. But you could sometimes get better pricing, better availability on the owned aircraft. There’s pros and cons to both. We use both all the time. And it’s a pretty good system for us.
(7:29-7:44) CS: So generally speaking, one of these pro athletes call you up. How much lead time do you have to book a flight? Walk us through… What time you get the call? What do you do? You texting all these operators? Or how does that work?
(7:44-7:53) WH: It’s all over the board on that. There’s just so many variables. Everybody asks us questions. And it’s like well it just depends.
(7:53-7:54) CS: Give us a frantic one.
(7:54-9:30) WH: We really do kind of pride ourselves on being able to handle last-minute flight needs. We have guys call us up all the time that are like, “Hey, I need to get to…” “I need a jet to get to practice.” They either stay at home to stay with family for an extra night after a game. And they got to get back to the team facility. They didn’t ride back with the team and they got to be there. And literally the cost of the jet if we can get them there in time will help them avoid a hefty fine from being late to practice or missing practice. Like those instances “How fast can you get me a plane?” is what we get a lot. And typically the standard
we try to shoot for 2 hours on average. Sometimes a little more. Sometimes you get lucky and can do it even faster. But that’s obviously on the very short end. And then we obviously have clients that do plan stuff out typical vacations and stuff weeks -months in advance. But we do handle a lot of last-minute stuff. And that’s really part of how we’ve grown our business is
because we really pride ourselves on truly being available 24/7. Almost all these companies that we compete against claim to be 24/7. But we’ve gotten clients a lot because people have called their broker at midnight on a Tuesday and been like, “Hey. Someone pick up. I need a flight.” And then they end up not being able to reach them. And they ask a teammate or friend or whomever and they get in touch with us. We answer no matter what time of day it is. So it’s difficult. We kind of live by that. We’re going to market us ourselves this way. We need to live up to it. But it’s really kind of one of the founding core principles we built our business on.
(9:30-10:27) PT: Our all-time record is 45 minutes when we got a phone call to when we got someone airborn because they needed to go out to Midland, Texas. It’s just very random. And then we started doing our thing. And we got a call from an operator. And they’re like, “Hey. We have a plane in Midland right now. The crew is there. A hot standby.” So as soon as they can get there we can take off. So sometimes we’ve been able to pull off crazy stuff like that. We’ve also have like the random 2 a.m. phone calls. With the people we work with. It’s like, “I need to get back to L.A. by 5 because my dancing with the star shoot starts at like 6.” So it’s like all kinds of random stuff like that. But it’s interesting and fun and challenging. But it’s rewarding because a lot of the guys are super appreciative that we’re able to actually make that happen for them. So they can live a very fun life and they know they can count on us to have their back whenever they really need it.
(10:27-10:40) CS: So you get this last-minute thing. Is there like some kind of uber? How do you hit all these operators? I got somebody that needs to go now. Are you texting these guys? You emailing?
(10:40-11:28) PT: So we have like a software we use. Where we can kind of send requests. And then we also have this like email forum where we basically just send one email saying, “This is what we need.” And then it goes out to every one of the industry that has aircraft available. So that’s how we do it. Then we also do like the texting and the phone calls to certain people especially if it’s like one of those late-night things like you have to wake people up. Sometimes it’s kind of awkward and you have to apologize. Like, “Sorry we have to wake you up. But trying to give you money.” The main way we do it is through basic email. We know like who to ask and what cities and stuff like that just over once you get the repetition in there. Just like someone needs something out of Denver it’s like we know exactly who to ask immediately.
(11:28-11:45) CS: How long did it take you to become an expert? Because you mentioned there’s a lot of like weird requests like I hate poodles or whatever. How long did it take you to understand what the pros and cons of every plane? What plane will work
for different requests? Tell us about that kind of development for you guys personally or as a company.
(11:45-12:58) WH: It takes a while. I was brand new to the industry when I got in it. Neither one of us have an aviation background at all. I couldn’t tell you Gulfstream from a little single pilot Cessna. Learning all the individual planes. and what trips you’d use those for? How many they can seat? How fast they can go? How many hours can they go without a fuel stop? And then also all the pilot FAA regulations and everything that goes into it. We do pretty intensive training. And I’d say we typically say anywhere from 4 to 6 months before people can really handle most trips autonomously. But it’s kind of one of those industries where things change, rules change. New types of planes are rolled out where I’m still learning. Every trip is a little bit different. Every client’s needs are a little bit different. So we’re learning new things on the fly constantly. I’ve been in this business since 2012. And Paul’s been in it like we said since we started this thing in 2016. But we’re still kind of refining our craft to this day. But on average I’d say with intensive training anywhere from 4 to 6 months before you to really have any sort of grasp on what you’re really doing.
(12:58-13:20) CS: So you said you guys are big in the athletic world. You got a lot of players, a lot of coaches. I saw on your website Brady Quinn is on there. And if you can’t name names, it’s fine. I know in industry like in gaming where you can’t always name names. How do you get into that athlete space? And how do they grow from there?
(13:20-16:57) PT: It was just kind of like luck in that. When we first started back in the early 2016 I do a lot of like LinkedIn outreach to people that I could think to be prospective client like a CEO of a company or President of a company. I sent probably a hundred LinkedIn like email requests. And like the one person that responded was Brady Quinn. Actually we didn’t know him in college because we went to Notre Dame and he’s a Notre Dame Star Quarterback. He took the time. He read it. He said, ”Okay these Notre Dame guys.” And then we started chatting. And then he invited us up to his charity golf tournament in Dublin, Ohio
which is right by Columbus. So we went up there. We did a sponsorship of the golf tournament. And it was like 42 degrees in pouring rain. And we like stood out there on our little hole sponsorship the entire time. And so I think after that he was kind of
impressed by us enough to where he’s like, “Alright. Well, I got a bunch of people I can connect you with.” And then that kind of really started like opened up all these doors for us. Because that led us to two of the biggest sports agencies in the world. And you just kind of went like that. It’s just having to constantly network and you never know who is going to open what door for you. Because Brady hasn’t even really ever flown with us because he doesn’t fly private a lot. He gets flown by Fox whenever he’s traveling for games and stuff. It’s just been such a valuable asset to us because he’s just been so good to us. Then in turn we’ve been at his charity golf event every single year. And anytime we can help him with something we do that. But it was kind of just the one guy that answered the LinkedIn email led to all these dominoes starting to fall. And then here we are. We probably fly over 50 NFL players. We fly probably dozen or more NBA players. We’re in with the biggest agencies in football and basketball. Like Athletes First, NCAA, BDA Sports. It’s pretty humbling that we get to kind of work with these people and they trust us. And then they send us their clients. We’ve had a just a ton of just success growing the business that way. And it just comes down to doing good job for them since we get almost all of our new clients from strict referrals. We don’t do any advertising. So it’s just kind of
you take care of a guy and they’re gonna recommend you to their friend or their teammate. Or if you take care of an agent’s
client they’re going to tell the other agents in the company, “Use Paul and Wes they took great care of us.” This is kind of how we grew it and expanded into it. We never really intended to be… Athletes entered with our business. It just kind of happened. We love it. It lets us stay kind of sports adjacent since we’re both huge sports fans. Just getting to meet some of the guys getting to see the other side of them that other people don’t see. And we never talk about sports with them. So all they want to talk about is
their families. And then we form these great friendships with them. And they care about us. And it’s just something I never thought would happen this quickly. But it’s just incredibly humbling and gratifying.
(16:57-17:15) CS: I know we talked before off camera that you like to go to Vegas. You guys both bet on sports once in a while and are sports fans. Have you ever seen an athlete get on a plane. “Man. Guys looking. He’s ready for this game. I’m putting some money on that.” Or vice versa he’s walked with the limp. “Aren’t you supposed to play on Sunday?”
(17:15-17:30) WH: We definitely have had a couple of instances I guess of like knowing things before the public does. Just a guy hits us up and he’s like, “Hey. I need to go.” Like, “Wait you have a game tomorrow or tonight or whatever.” But typically…
(17:30-17:33) PT: We can tell if they’re checked out sometimes.
(17:33-17:55) WH: We may get a tip every once in a while, but we really don’t share anything about our clients to anybody of course. But we really don’t. I rarely if ever would gamble on anything because of that. Rarely ever turn into gambling. But it’s always kind of interesting to know something and then see it may be on SportsCenter a couple hours later or
the next morning or whatever.
(17:55-18:18) PT: So that’s one of the fun things. Like a lot of times we’ll set up a flight and then like we’ll know. It’s like before Adam Schefter reports on ESPN. We’re like, “Oh yeah. I know that guy’s flying because he has to go sign his contract.” Just stuff like that. It’s like fun just for me and him to know. But it’s like we never tell anyone. But it’s just like, “Man. If we could’ve scooped Schefter.” So fun stuff like that.
(18:18-18:27) CS: That’s cool. So COVID affected Pro Sports and so a lot of your clients. How has it it affected your business overall?
(18:27-19:59) WH: I’ll say there was that time basically from late March through April where we were busier than most people. But it’s slowed down for everybody across the industry. I think the industry was down 77% this April compared to April of 2019.
And that was mostly due to literally the strictest lockdowns that we’ve seen where it were in place during that month. People were ordered to stay at home essentially in almost every state. But we still stayed way busier. We’re blessed to stay busier than the industry average. But now a couple months later when states are to re-open actually went from pretty dead to really, really crazy busy. So you really had to be prepared and kind of shift your focus and how you were going about doing the job because planes were rarely available. If you got a quote for a trip in a couple days you had about an hour to close on that or else somebody else is going to book it. And what we saw was a lot of people that had never flown private that had previously say flown first-class exclusively. Had the money. Was maybe more of a stretch. They weren’t ready to do it yet. It kind of force their hand a little bit as they felt like, “Well, I really don’t feel comfortable flying commercial yet. Even though they’re running that doesn’t seem as safe to me.” So we saw a whole bunch of people doing they’re taking their first private flights. So we served a lot of new client referrals first-time flyers. So it was kind of a total shift for us. Something we hadn’t seen in quite a while but it went from dead to crazy busy really fast.
(19:59-20:18) CS: Nice. Congratulations on that. So right here we got a Citation 10 behind us. We’re talking about people that hit that jackpot. We’re doing a service to them. So if they want to fly this, we’re filming this from Dallas, TX.They want to fly this to Las Vegas. What does something like that cost them?
(20:18-22:11) PT: So like something like a round-trip on this is Citation 10 Super Midsize Jet seats 8 passengers. For a Friday through Sunday round-trip and I mean nice clean round-trip 3 days a plane like this is going to be like somewhere in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. So it’s a nice, big airplane. You can get something smaller like a Light Jet like a Hawker 400 or a Midsize Jet like a like a Lear 60. Those are going to be lower down on the price scale. You’re going to be looking like $20,000 range $25,000 range. You get to the bigger aircraft you’re looking in that $30,000 range. We also do a lot of one ways. So that’s like kind of one of the places we really excel is that say someone is just flying. Say there’s a plane on the West Coast maybe California based and it’s just going to be dropping someone off in Dallas. And then it’s going to be flying empty back to L.A. or the West Coast Area.
So we can track those and identify them. And instead of paying $20,000 for a one-way flight to Vegas we can give it to you for 10 or 12 grand. That’s kind of one of the main benefits that we can offer to our clients. We have a lot of people though fly private one-way, fly commercial the other way. There’s also the bigger aircraft like the Gulfstream G4 Heavy Cabin Jet kind of area that’s
in your 30 to 35, 40 thousand dollar range. We even do a lot of trips like especially with our athlete clients like after the season the bunch of guys will want to take a trip to Vegas together. And the plane may cost, 40 grand or 45 grand. But it’s 10 guys splitting it up. So football players they can $4,500 is reasonable for like a round-trip. And it’s a great experience with the guys.
(22:11-22:12) CS: Want to kick-off return.
(22:12-22:13) PT and WH: Exactly.
(22:13-22:25) PT: There’s a big range. So if it’s just a small group there’s a lower price. If it’s your big group bigger price for a bigger plane.
(22:25-22:35) CS: If let’s say it’s a 3-day. they rent the same plane a week. Do you generally say like, “Alright. Let’s take one plane
out. And we’ll just find a different plane to come back.”
(22:35-23:24) WH: It really kind of depends on these trips. How long they’re staying. If you’re going to Vegas and you’re staying for 3 days, it’s going to typically, you come from Dallas, it’s going to be the same plane. So this plane is based here in Dallas, would take you there, it’d stay there on the ground for a couple days, and take you back. You’re talking, “Hey. I’m going to be staying in Vegas for 10 to 14 days.” You’re absolutely going to be looking at a situation where we’re trying to match up two one ways.
So the plane that takes you out there is almost surely not going to be the same jet that brings you back home. So it really does depends the length of stay for all these trips. Whether it’s going to be kind of that what we call “A clean round-trip.” Same plane up. Same plane out. Same plane back. Or it’s going to be, even though it’s round-trip in their eyes, we’re viewing it as 2 one-ways.
(23:24-24:00) PT: It’s a little counter-intuitive. If you think you’re flying commercial, you’re thinking like even if you’re gone for 2 weeks it’s a round-trip in your head. So what happens is like say you took a plane out there and you’re going to stay a week. The operators would charge for the plane to stay on the ground for that amount of time. So it’s like if you’re paying like yesterday maybe 2 hours of flight time per day that it sits. So it actually makes more financial sense to not have it stay there to do just 2 one-ways because the fees to have it just sit there for a week are going to be more than flying it away and getting a new plane back.
(24:00-24:12) CS: So we’ve been talking about outside the plane about getting places. I want to see the inside of the plane and learn about what kind of parties we can have on-board on our way to Vegas. Should we move inside?
(24:12-24:13) PT and WH: Let’s do it.
(24:13-24:16) CS: Alright. So we are on-board a… What’s the name of this plane?
(24:16-24:17)PT and WH: Citation 10.
(24:17-24:25) CS: Citation 10. Beautiful plane. So for something like this, how many people can fly together on the Citation 10?
(24:25-24:51) WH: It’s 8. This one’s pretty easy to tell. It’s just got the 8 individual seats. Some of the number of planes have a couch or divan. It’s hard to tell sometimes just by quick glance whether it’s 2 people can sit on those. 3, 4. Kind of depends on model. The bigger planes the owners can also configure. I’m like a G4 can sit anywhere from like 10 or 11 people all the way up to 18 in some instances depending on how he outfits his plane.
(24:51-25:12) CS: Got it. So I’ve got eight buddies. We’re going to Lake Tahoe or the Bahamas or something. I’m calling Vault Aviation and say, “Hey. We’re going to have a guys trip. We’re gonna have a lot of fun.” How do I get the booze and the food? And how does that come on here? Do you guys take care of that? Or what happens?
(25:12-26:47) PT: So we actually try to accommodate any requests that we can. Usually it’s pretty basic. Every plane is going to come with what they call a standard stock which is going to be just some beer, some mini bottles of liquor, some snacks. But then sometimes people want big sandwich platter. Some people even want like full meals like steak and lobster. There’s different ways we get it done. There is what we call “Private Jet Catering Companies” and they do these big beautiful spreads. But they’re also really expensive. So we’ll try to do stuff like we’ll get DoorDash, GRUBHUB or Uber Eats that drops only at the airport. Or
we even had to go like sometimes people want crazy stuff that even they don’t deliver. So we’ll actually get car service to like go just pick up like something from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Something like that. We’ll do whatever we can to get what our client wants on there. And in terms of the booze, they tell us what they want. We’ll get a case of patron or whatever they want. So a lot of times they actually bring the liquor themselves because they want to make sure that part isn’t messed up at all. So that’s definitely the important part. We never had a request I don’t think we’ve never been able to meet. Once we realize, “Okay. We can get this car service company to do it now.” We can get the money thing now.
(26:47-27:03) CS: Alright. Every like music video I’ve seen that takes place in private jet: dancing, champagne being sprayed.
I assume that’s not allowed What are some of the boundaries you have to set with customers? Like, “Okay. This is cool but don’t do this.”
(27:03-28:11) WH: You can have a pretty good time on here. And I think a lot of it really kind of depends on the crew you’re flying with. Some of them have a higher threshold in what they’re willing to let go, what they’re willing to try to enforce, what rules they’re trying to enforce. It also depends on “Does the company own the jet?”, “Is it owned by an owner?” Certain owners have rules. No red wine on my plane because red wine gets on the carpet. It’s really, really difficult and expensive to get out. And usually they let people have a pretty good time. If there is a cleaning fee, if there’s stains or spills, food, whatever, they’ll charge. We’ll get charged the cleaning fee which we’ll pass along to the client if we have to. But all in all, as long as you’re not outwardly distracting the crew or like being ridiculously loud and just trashing the plane, basically, being kind of almost disrespectful, you’re allowed to have a pretty good time up here. There’s some planes or even outfitted with like legit stereo speakers to where you can like you can play your iPod and it’s like a full-blown concert up here in the sky. So we’ve seen a little bit of everything. You think of any other..
(28:11-29:22) PT: A lot of the guys are just like usually they’re flying with their family or they’re tired. There’s not too much crazy stuff. But every now and again there’s certain planes can even change this lighting to like neon red and blue and I kind of feel like a club in here. If you’re respectful you can pretty much do anything. We actually get some awkward questions sometimes about like wondering what can they do with their significant other or something like that? And then it’s like we’re having to be like, “Okay.
How do we tell them what they can and can’t do?” But other than that the craziest thing we had happened probably was a bachelorette party. Like you wouldn’t think like that would get too crazy. But that was like the amount of damage done to the airplane was bathroom door was broken-off the hinges, toilet overflowed. We had a bunch of issues. We’d pay like $5,000 to repair that. But we ate that cost because that’s what we do for our clients.
(29:22-29:23) CS: We don’t want to encourage that behavior.
(29:23– 29:26) PT: I know. That’s like quite extreme that we don’t necessarily want.
(29:26-29:27) WH: One-time thing.
(29:27-29:32) CS: Obviously, we’re not going to name names. But is that some household name I could…
(29:32-29:48) PT: No. That’s the thing. It’s like of all the household names like we fly in like you think certain football players or basketball players like, “What do you know? We partying?” It’s like, “Nope. It was just a group of ladies going for a fun weekend.”
Hey. You never know.
(29:48-30:07) CS: So flight records. I heard the Epstein Case. This guy was on the flight. Like is that public? I don’t know. Like does everybody gets on the plane have to be reported? Is that a public knowledge? Or how does all that work?
(30:07-31:02) PT: So in terms of like security for private jets, there’s not your typical like you’re not going through a body scanner, no one’s searching your bags. All we have to do is provide the passengers’ names for the pilot manifest. And then they cross-reference the TSA No Fly List. So there is a record of it. It’s run through the TSA. There is like a record of it in that sense. So it’s there. It’s not publicly available. Like the only way you could get that is via some sort of a lawsuit. A subpoena. A subpoena. So we keep. everything very private. Nothing would ever kind of get out to anyone. But there is an official record just since it has to.
The FAA is involved. TSA is involved.
(31:02-31:07) CS: So you’d have to check I.D. of the people coming in. I can’t just say, “Yeah. Ron Mexico.”
(31:07-31:39) PT: Some people may do that. Generally that’s basically it. So we tell the operator who’s gonna be on the manifest.
So then they’ll check those like, “Okay. Paul from Vault told me XYZ is going to be on there.” And they check the I.D.’s, It matches then they’re good to go. And especially for international stuff with passports and customs that creates another record.
But that’s all private on our end. Unless the government comes knocking on our door it’s not getting out to anyone.
(31:39-32:08) CS: Sure. You mentioned a 45-minute turn-around. Because we deal with a lot of cruise lines. So we know like, “Hey. Sorry the manifest went out already.” And with a big cruise ship, the big ones are 7, 8 thousand passengers. They generally have to send it out the day before, the night before. So like we can’t do like, “45 minutes. Yeah. Get on the…” So what with International Air Travel? What’s the general like how much time do you need to give the manifest?
(32:08-33:26) WH: It really totally depends on which country you’re going into and what time of day it is. So if you’re trying to go into Canada. Somewhere we have really good relations. Its direct-border stay with the U.S. I’ve added people literally last minute.
10 minutes on the way to the airport. Get the passport copies. Photos over to the operator working with to file with customs.
Other countries can be a little bit more difficult. Not every country has customs that’s operating after say 6, 7, 8 p.m. Some just don’t have very much manpower to be able to turn it around very quickly. Even if they do, some weekends are not staffed too heavily. So it really does kind of depend. The typical tourist destinations are usually easier than some of the more remote countries. Countries you wouldn’t assume people may be going into to vacation on or anything. There’s politically-restricted areas
and states that we can go into. But we need a lot of time and clearance to get those permits filed. We can do that. But like we’re going to need a couple weeks probably to get this 100% cleared by all parties.
(33:26-33:46) CS: Got it. So we talked earlier about the Charter Model, most kind of 2 one-ways or it could be round-trip. And then where some people just buy the plane. Now, you guys have an option that’s kind of a hybrid where your invest a little bit up front, get a bigger discount. Tell us about the program. It’s Max Card? Is that right?
(33:46-35:19) WH: And I’ll say just a couple quick words. I’ll let Paul kind of add his cents. But Max Jet Card we kind of look to create, what can we create membership-wise. Some people come from other companies where they like having a Jet Card.
They like having some sort of program in place. And so what ours is it’s fixed rates but it’s really flexible. So it’s fixed rates for
all 4 major cabin classes: light jet, mid-size jet, super mid-size jet, and heavy jet. And so we have fixed hourly rates for those. And the way we look at it though rather than just automatically. Okay. If they want a midsize jet for this trip out to Vegas like what I’m talking about. Okay. We have this rate, this fixed price up for it. What’s the flight time? 6 hours round-trip. We’re going to multiply it by the rate and that’s your price. So instead we call it the Max Jet Card because those rates dictate the maximum that we can charge you for that. So it’s more or less like a price ceiling in effect. So sometimes if it’s a really busy time of year, the holidays or whatnot, it can be really difficult on availability. Without availability sometimes it’s hard to get good pricing. It’s hard to negotiate, create that competition. So it’s nice to know sometimes. Okay. This is the max, I can pay for this. Like I’m okay with that price. So anything less than that’s a bonus. Whereas if you’re just only on on-demand without the program you’re kind of at the mercy of whatever we’re able to find. So there are times and those instances where… We eat whatever the difference is just to honor those those fixed rates. So that’s kind of the core principle. But that kind of a lot of guarantees and other things that go into it.
(35:19-38:05) PT: Some of the biggest benefits that we found our clients really like is that say they put $100,000 deposit on file.
So that’s not a membership fee that is strictly used for the charter flights you use. So it’s just debited from that amount. For whatever reason at any time if they wanted their balance refunded, it’s fully refundable. Luckily that’s never happened yet since everyone seems to like the service. People like that their money isn’t being kind of held hostage and then the money never expires. There’s a lot companies where you buy specific number of hours. And if you don’t use those hours, they’re done at the end of the year. So you lose out on the amount of money you spent to buy those hours. Or they tell you you can roll them over to the next year but you have to pay this increased premium fee. So not having a membership fee is one of the big things. There’s not really a capital outlay upfront because you can get it back at any time. So those are some pretty key factors that clients really like. In terms of just like the way the program works it’s like say the jet card price for a big trip would be $100,000. If we can just source a great deal and give it you for $80,000. We’re going to give you for $80,000. It’s fair to us. It’s more than fair to you. So
that’s just kind of the way we do it. And people last like why wouldn’t you just take that extra $20,000? It’s because we’re so referral-based that we take care of people. And then it’s more profitable for us and not charge the extra $20,000 and have that client refer us 1 or 2 friends that want to become jet card members. So it’s just this constant cycle of we’re being fair to people and they appreciate that. And they show their appreciation by putting us together with their other friends that could do it. And
it’s just kind of our basic philosophy is we’re always going to provide you a safe airplane at a fair price. Because some people want to give you the cheapest option. And they’re just interested in getting you booked. But we’ve kind of figured out over time.
Intuitive. Cheap is not good when you’re talking about an airplane when it’s something that’s flying in the sky. Cheap usually
means old. It could mean maintenance isn’t done. So cheap just isn’t something that we do. We’re about fair pricing, safer planes, great service.
(38:05-39:05) WH: And flexibility. Which I think like this model that Paul and I came up with really is. There really isn’t anything else out there like it. Because most other programs your tied into 1 type of jet or 1 size. Well that may make sense for your typical trips. But if your normal trip is 10 people international you need a big Gulf Stream 50. But if you have other trips, smaller business trips. A quick Dallas to Houston hop like that. That’s a total waste of money and resources to take any heavy cabin jet for that. So instead we’ll drop you down to, you can just pay for light jet. And so there’s just very little risk with it. There’s a lot of flexibility.
And you don’t really find that so much with the membership programs. It’s usually really expensive. You’re taking a risk in that. If I don’t like it, I’m on the hook until I use all my hours, my fun. So we try to create something that the exact opposite of that but also offers like the usual membership benefits.
(39:05-40:37) PT: One more thing about just these jet card programs, in general. The way that we run ours with it being fully refundable. A lot of jet card programs, if you actually read through the fine print, it says like the second you give them your chunk of money, not only is it not refundable, but as soon as they get it they claim it’s already earned. So say something happens. Say the company goes out of business. Like they don’t have to give you the money back. There’s actually a big bankruptcy case
based out of here of Dallas that just happened. Where something like a company had like 50 million dollars of client funds that were supposed to be on file. And then they filed a bankruptcy and they had none of it. So it’s like where’s 50 million dollars go?
They’re gonna be able to rely back and say, “Well. The contract said as soon as you give us the money it’s not refundable. It’s deemed to earned.” So that’s why we kind of just totally went away from that model. And yes. We’re pretty transparent and just explaining things. There’s a lack of transparency in this industry. So that’s just kind of one of the things kind of we offer. We shoot it straight with people. If for whatever reason our service is not for them. We’ll say, “Maybe someone else could take care of you better. Or like your needs are so specific that maybe it doesn’t make sense for you to go with a Netjets or someone else.” In general, we’re going to be able to handle almost anyone’s needs for probably the best price. Definitely the best service.
(40:37-40:42) CS: That’s outstanding. Is there anything I forgot to ask you guys?
(40:42-41:06) WH: Kind of ran the gamut there? I think we touched on pretty much everything, from the fun stuff to the serious stuff. It’s been a blast. Paul said, “Transparency. Low prices.” You’re getting something safe. You’re gonna get something nice. You’re going to enjoy. We haven’t gone wrong building our business on those principles yet. So I think we’ll probably stick to it.
(41:06-41:07) CS: Nice.
(41:07-42:51) PT: Just maybe last thing I’d say is just something that’s super important to us is giving back to the community and to our clients. So anytime we get an athlete client that starts flying with us. We always make the pledge that we’ll get involved in your foundation. And we do a lot of foundation work, foundation events, golf tournaments, dinners. So over the past 4 and a half years we’ve probably donated several hundred thousand dollars to different charitable events for our clients. It’s great for us.
It’s great for them. We get to go to these events and meet teammates or like agents and other people. Rather than spend money on traditional marketing we gone down this route where we build these. We think it’s like we actually consider us to be partners with a lot of these guys. Because they consume our service and we participate in their foundation, things that are important to them. So we just really enjoyed getting to go. And we get to do some really cool stuff that like you never think you’d do. Like one weekend we’re having dinner with this very famous NFL player. And then we’re out fishing Big Cedar Lodge in Branson Missouri.
All kinds of stuff like that. So we found just being dedicated to that. Keeping our promise that we will one, sponsor event and two, we will come participate in it even if it’s way out of our element. Like I’ve never fished before in my entire life. But I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to go fishing with a bunch of our friends. So it’s been really rewarding to do that. And just seeing that kind of making a little bit of an impact that way.
(42:51-43:08) CS: Good for you guys. It’s great doing business. Doing good. Help a lot of people. And bring them there safely.
So they hit the jackpot. And URComped customer hits the jackpot. Or goes on that magical craps run. Call Vault Aviation. They’ll take care of you. Wes.
(43:08-43:09) WH: Thanks man. Appreciate it.
(43:09-43:10) CS: Thank you.
(43:10-43:11) WH: Thanks so much.
(43:11-43:12) CS: Paul.
(43:12-43:13) PT: I appreciate it.
(43:13-43:18) CS: Thank you.