Michael Slavin – Private charter in 2020

29 Jan 2020

Michael Slavin covers sales in the Northeast United States, where you can bet charter brokers and operators set a high bar for speed, efficiency, and boosting sales. What will be their priorities in 2020? Michael gives his take on existing and emerging trends.

What characterizes Avinode members in the Northeast, compared to other regions? 

For one, it consists of a lot of brokers. Compared to my colleagues who manage a portfolio of over 75% charter operators, my portfolio is more 50/50 since there is such a large concentration of brokers in the Northeast, especially in the New York region and Boston. 

A lot of people have a Wall St background and the persona that goes along with that. They have high expectations of the product and what we deliver as a service. And they don’t like to take no for an answer. 

Looking at trends for 2020 and beyond, what do brokers need to be looking at to stay competitive? 

With access to information on the internet, there’s a lot of people aiming to “Uberize” the private jet booking process. This trend has brought a lot of attention to the industry so there are a lot of people flying private that may not have been flying private before. I think brokers have faced a lot of competition, and to stay competitive they need the best access to information, which is what we strive to provide with the Marketplace availability information and pricing. 

What about charter operators – what do they need to look at in 2020? 

From what we hear, a big pain point in the industry is scheduling software. Some of the systems they’ve been using forever are becoming antiquated and irrelevant, and have really slowed down their ability to create quotes and get those out to brokers and other end clients. 

On our end, we’re steadily developing Schedaero into the tool that can address this operator pain point. We have a great offering and we’re excited about what we’re going to build in the near future to address the operational side of things. 

How much interest have customers showed in creating their own technology, and using Avinode APIs to do so? 

I think it really depends on the organization. A lot of the old school outfits really don’t have any interest in it. Whereas others are using custom technology to help drive the booking process. We see everything from one side to the other. 

And then we get calls all the time from people that don’t have an aviation background who have an interest in getting involved with the private jet side of technology. They think that they can bring over their tech expertise and knowledge – and have it completely cross over. But these conversations don’t last longer than a few phone calls because of how complex the industry is.  

In the coming decades, do you think there will there be a dominant “Uber” for flying private or will the playing field be more distributed? 

I think what a lot of people like to compare it to is the financial services industry, where you have pure tech financial services and the brick-and mortar-options, where technology is becoming more popular, but there’s still that need for the old-school offering. 

How about you personally? What kinds of things are you focusing on in 2020? 

The past year or so I’ve gotten into endurance sports. I started doing triathlons a year ago and then just recently completed my first half Iron Man. Just like working in sales it’s fun having goals and very concrete initiatives you have to hit – numbers and quotas and things like that. It’s a very data-driven sport so it’s cool to be able to look at the data and improve your performance over time. This year my goal is to complete at least one Ironman 70.3 and hopefully compete in the Berlin Marathon too. 

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