Startup City Magazine

Graduates Aren't Excited About Joining the Travel Industry Anymore. Here's How We Entice Future Generations:

By Jonathan Nicol, Founder & CEO, Stratajet

Jonathan Nicol, Founder & CEO, Stratajet

Headquartered in London, Stratajet is the world’s first 'real-time' private jet booking platform, providing instant and accurate availability and costs of private jets. Whether for business or personal needs, the entity’s groundbreaking technology facilitates journey in seconds effortlessly.

Dragging Private Aviation Out of the Dark Ages.

The fact that Apple coined the phrase, “There’s an App for that,” shows that just about anything is available online. And quite rightly in the fast-paced, modern world, people expect immediacy. In fact, when everything is so driven by technology, people deserve immediacy. If you look at the world of travel, this is the case for scheduled airlines, trains, boats; they’re all available online. You know instantly how much it costs and you can make a booking there and then. But until recently private aviation remained the only means of travel that was not available online. Till date this has held back the industry from being accepted as a viable means of transport for the mainstream traveler.

During time as a corporate freelance pilot, after a stint in the military, I have noticed the inefficiency and wastage in private aviation which were always going to prevent the industry from being available to a wider audience. The problems stem from the staggeringly archaic means of booking a private jet which traditionally involves phoning a broker and the repositioning of aircraft, which results in a huge number of empty flights. The result is hugely hiked prices for the passenger and the perception, therefore, of private jet travel being a luxurious ‘toy’, rather than a legitimate form of transport. That affects the customer base but also attracts the talented and young graduates coming into the sector.

Keeping Up with the Times.

Private aviation is now catching up with modern times as the industry begins to accept change in the form of technological revolution which can take things to a new level. The concept of people booking their own seats on a flight is not a revolutionary idea, in fact the ability to do so has been around for years, but it’s a far more complicated reality for private aviation than it is for scheduled flights as the principles are different. Critically, where private jets differ from scheduled jets is that when you fly privately, the aircraft works around you, whereas, when you fly scheduled, you work around the aircraft. This means that calculating the cost of a private jet flight involves far more calculations, so, automating this process saves aircraft operators a huge amount of time.

So the Stratajet platform is simply bringing the world of private jet travel up to speed. It’s been a pain-staking, five year process to gather the relevant data and code the necessary algorithms to make the software run fast enough to be a viable consumer proposition but necessary in order to drag the industry into the 21st century.

Opening Up a Closed Industry.

From a start up point of view, we have had to hire people with experience in the industry, but when starting the company it was my aim to bring people onboard that were not involved in aviation as they can provide a fresh perspective on things. The old-fashioned nature of the industry is having the same negative effect when the industry is actually exciting and varied. Some of the technical innovations within aircraft are huge and it’s a case of marrying this up with the potential industry staff and audience. It’s very indicative of the industry in that there is a shortage of technological expertise outside of pure aviation coming into the industry.

A shift towards accepting technology across the industry is paving the way for advancement as aircraft operators benefit from improved margins due to fewer man hours spent producing quotes and less wastage in the form of empty flights. This is allowing the whole industry to progress, in turn opening the door for brighter, younger talent to make their mark on the industry and I’m proud that 25 percent of the Stratajet team is under 25 years old.

The important distinction of Stratajet is that, private jet travel doesn’t have to be a concept that only the rich and famous can enjoy it’s more about the luxury of being wise with the time you spend travelling.

Company Perks.

There’s a growing trend for companies to offer perks to employees and I think this is extremely important as it creates a dynamic work culture. For example, ping-pong tables and coffee machines inspire a fun working environment. I believe that, wherever you work, make sure you love it. As a start-up you will spend more working hours in your office than anywhere else, so you have to make sure that your work environment is perfect. Do what you love and do it in a place where you love it.

Inspiring Your Staff

I’m a firm believer in inspiration. If you make sure that the members of your team understand your vision and enjoy what they’re doing, you can inspire them to pull out all the stops, go the extra mile and do something really special. At one point before our product launch, my whole staff had to work for three months without pay but we all believed in what we were doing and none of us were going to give up. We were inspired by the potential of what we were building to change an industry and the perception of that industry. Ultimately we’re looking at the potential to make private jet travel more accessible to the mainstream traveler. Every person at Stratajet is empowered with the knowledge that they are going to be part of this change.

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