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Mike Prachar – How Paynode is proving to be the perfect payment partner for this fast-growing operator

28 Sep 2022

Volato is a private jet operator on the up and up. We sat down with Chief Operating Officer, Mike Prachar, to talk about how Paynode is helping make life easier for his team, how he’s looking forward to the Paynode customer base growing, and the charter-specific features that add real value to his business.

Hi Mike. Can you tell us a little about Volato

We are a full-service private aviation company that primarily operates the HondaJet. We offer fractional ownership, the Stretch Jet Card, charter and aircraft management. In our fractional program, by offering shares down to a 16th size, we remove the cost of entry barrier for more people who want to get involved and enjoy the benefits of private jet ownership.

What’s special about our model is that owners in our fractional program can fly as little or as much as they like, and they earn a revenue share every time their aircraft flights a live mission – even when they fly. The HondaJet is perfect for four passenger missions, is 40% less expensive to operate, is quieter, and yet has all the comfort and luxury of larger jets.


And I believe you’re growing fast

Yes, we are. We’re getting a lot of requests for larger aircraft, which is something we weren’t planning to do right away, but we’ve listened to our customers.

We have 11 HondaJets in the fleet with 18 more on order and we just announced our order for four Gulfstream G280s in a ten passenger configuration that we will also fractionalize.  

Our charter operations incorporate an even broader range of modern aircraft. These are exciting times for sure.


How did you first come to use Paynode?
When we were exploring how to best manage payments on the charter side, it made sense to choose a solution that was as close to turnkey as you can get. Paynode was an easy choice for us because it ticked that box, plus we were already Schedaero and Avinode customers since day.

With the revenue share model we offer, we want to fly our planes as much as possible to offset our owners’ costs. If they themselves only fly a little each year, the majority of their costs can be covered by us. That’s where Avinode and Paynode play a big part in our story.


How about dealing with other brokers who are Paynode users?
That’s something we’re not taking as much advantage of just now, but we hope to do more of in the future. We have a couple of customers buying from us through Paynode, and it’s so nice to avoid the whole wire situation. As Paynode’s footprint grows – especially here in the US – we’ll be doing even more of that for sure.


What features would you say offer the biggest benefit to your business?

Not so much a feature, but I find the entire process of managing a reservation very easy with Paynode.
From placing a credit card hold, then either collecting the money on the card or, if the ACH comes in time, switching to that and being able to manage that as a single translation. In my opinion, that’s the most useful feature in terms of saving us time.

Paynode also manages credit card holds seamlessly and removes the complexity that you find with the standard direct banking way of doing things.


And what would you improve?

There are a few improvements that I’d like to see which would enhance Paynode.

Right now, there’s a ten day hold on the system, and it’s not always clear when these are going to expire. Some form of notification on this would be helpful. Also, if we have to do a refund there’s no way to do that or track it with Paynode. It would be nice if we could design something into the system that makes this easier to manage.

Having said that, the overall concept of Paynode is really sound, and the feature set is very good. It would just be even better with these new additions.


How have you found using the Paynode system?

Personally, I was shown the system, and was up and running right away. It’s that straightforward. Part of the beauty of Paynode is that you train your team – like we did with our Charter Sales team – and it just works.

It enables them to always be fully aware of what’s happening. They can access the payment mechanisms and know when cash comes in, without having to go back and forth to accounting all the time. Also, we don’t have to give every team member access to more of the financial system than they need.


So, you’re happy with what Paynode brings to Volato

Absolutely. The integration with Avinode is a big deal for us. Avinode is one of our key input streams for charter business and as long as there continues to be enough business for us on the platform, we’re happy there.

We have a number of accounts payable and accounts receivable mechanisms in and out of the company, and we’re very happy keeping the charter business on Paynode. We haven’t found the need to look for a better solution, and I don’t think there even is one that’s more tailored to the charter industry.


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