A search for “air charter” on Google yields about 231,000,000 results.

Google also reports that advertisers are willing to pay $2.31 PER CLICK for advertising on this topic.

How does a charter operator or charter broker compete in this saturated market?

Paula Williams: Hey, I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

Paula: We are ABCI and ABCI’s mission is…

John: To help all you folks in the aviation world hell sell more, easy for me to say, sell more of your products and services.

Paula: Absolutely. And we’ve been doing a little bit of a series, a mini series if you will, of different types of aviation businesses and what they should include on their websites. So we’ve talked about MROs and FBOs. Today we’re talking about charter companies. Things that you should know, charter operators in particular, but also charter brokers we’ll include them in this episode. Things that you should have on your website that will differentiate from all the other charter companies out there, right.

John: Yes.

Paula: Okay. All right. So what is your favorite thing, if you were looking for a charter from X to Y, what would be the things that you would look for on the website first? Actually, while you’re thinking about that, let me start by saying that there are so many of these that look exactly like each other. So many charter company websites that have a picture of a VIP business jet and a form saying, “Get a free quote on your charter.” That’s all there is. It doesn’t say who they are. It doesn’t say where they are. It doesn’t say what they specialize in. It doesn’t say anything like that. So that said…

John: She’s trying to get her 50,000 words out for the day.

Paula: Obviously, but anyway. Okay. I also wanted to give you some time to think about it.

John: Of course, you did.

Paula: Okay. You are chartering a trip from X to Y. There are 5000 charter companies with websites at your fingertips. What is going to impress you or make you decide?

John: Having been in that boat…

Paula: Yeah.

John: …it’s amazing how many people don’t answer the phone when you find a phone number.

Paula: Yeah.

John: They say, “Well, now wait a minute.” Well, if they’re not going to answer me now, why would I call. I mean, here, I’m ready to spend $40,000 to $60,000 or more depending where I’m going, and they don’t want to talk.

Paula: Yeah.

John: What’s up with that?

Paula: Right.

John: Then along with that, well, what kind of hardware do you have? I mean, I’m, depending on how far I go and I tried to charter one to Hong Kong from Houston I believe. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it was to find somebody, one, that would talk to you and two, that would even talk to you about the trip. On top of that, I wanted the crew to stand by for four days, “Well, we can’t do that.” What do you mean you can’t do that? You just charge more. I mean, come on. I’m off my soapbox.

Paula: Right. Do you even use the little automated forms that are on the website before you make a phone call?

John: Oh, hell, no. No, because it’s all crap. Each trip is so distinctly different and that’s just a generic, so that they’ll give you a call. I’m not playing that game.

Paula: Exactly. And between some of these trips that people are organizing, it’s more complicated than just from X to Y, as we said. In some cases, they want to get into a smaller airport than you may have listed on your form.

John: It may even be the routing.

Paula: Yeah.

John: I mean, there’s more than one way to get to Hong Kong depending on size aircraft you use. I mean, I need to talk to somebody when I’m doing this.

Paula: Okay. Thing number one for you, is a phone number with a human being that answers the phone.

John: Oh, yeah.

Paula: Okay.

John: Big time.

Paula: That’s not really a website thing, but it certainly is a website thing to make the phone number prominent and clickable.

John: Well, but the next website thing is what size planes do you have and explain in terms that somebody besides somebody like me, but my client can look at and say, “Well, that one will go 2000 miles.”

Paula: Right, so…

John: Then can I do that one or do we need the one that goes 4000? Then I can talk him through that. I mean, if you’re going to have popular city pairs, there’s no reason to do that unless you’re going to give a discount because you’re flying that route. If you’re not going to give a discount, who cares?

Paula: That’s true.

John: Because you’re going to go wherever you’re going to go.

Paula: All right. I always say you want to assume, especially for a charter company, that your customer is a doctor, somebody that doesn’t know anything about aviation, but is not an idiot, right. They are somebody who is very smart and successful. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in a position to be commissioning a charter.

John: Or an attorney.

Paula: Right. But assume they are some type of professional person or the assistant of some type of a professional person that is very smart and educated, but not about aviation. They don’t know the difference between a Gulf Stream and a Falcon. They do not know the difference between great circle and straight to a place.

John: And nor should they know.

Paula: …they have no idea. Right.

John: They don’t care.

Paula: Exactly. All they want to know is…

John: Can I go from here to here and how much.

Paula: I have X number of people that I need to get here by this date, and I have X equipment and luggage and whatever.

John: Okay.

Paula: And maybe I have another stop to make and so on. Sometimes it does get complicated.

John: Yeah. I mean, and then typically when I’m doing this for somebody I’m dealing with a CEO, sometimes the CFO.

Paula: Yeah.

John: Mainly CFO or CEOs and they’ve got their own companies to run. It’s not aviation. They just say, “Get me a ride.” All right.

Paula: Right. Every charter company has a specialty. Some of them specialize in oil and gas, some of them specialize in moving set, of location finding. Some of them specialize in helicopters in the Gulf. Some of them specialize in vacationers in New York to Florida. Whatever your specialty is, that is your target market and you want to make it obvious that that is your target market because that’s what you know, and that’s what you’ll be able to speak to in an educated way, right.

John: Yeah, and the AFA is trying to make space travel charter 135.

Paula: Right. If you are Virgin Galactic, you’re a different kind of charter company, right.

John: Exactly.

Paula: Space tourism. Okay. What you do want to put on your website is, “We are happy to talk with you. This is how you get in touch with us.”

John: Yeah.

Paula: That’s the umber one thing. Number two, I think you want to put on happy customer success stories. I realize that one of the things about charter nowadays, and one of the challenges about charter, is that there’s a lot of confidentiality involved. You may not be able to use names and stories and logos of the companies that you’re probably working with.

John: Maybe not names and logos, but you can certainly tell the story and have somebody give you the words. They don’t have to be assigned to anybody just say, “One of our customers said…”

Paula: Yeah, exactly. We got somebody out of The Bahamas when all of the airlines were shut down because of COVID or because of…

John: Whatever.

Paula: …a storm something like that. Every charter company worth its salt has stories like that, whether or not they can use customer names.

John: Exactly.

Paula: You can tell the details of the story. If you do fly people who don’t mind using their names and their stories, and a lot of times that would be things like attorneys or car dealership’s attorneys that fly to the location of their clients. Other people that want to have that publicity, then by all means, ask them for a testimonial and use their name and use their picture because that’s good for you and good for them.

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Paula: But if it’s somebody, a political candidate or something like that, that doesn’t want anybody to know that they were flying a private jet, that’s fine too. But you can say we took somebody to these, six locations in one day. That’s something that you can say whether or not, without divulging any details

John: The people I work with now in charter companies, they answer the phone. Simple.

Paula: Yeah. Cool. So that ended up not being entirely website advice.

John: Yeah, I got on the soapbox. Apologies for that.

Paula: That’s okay. But if you do run a charter company, there are some things that you should have on your website. Those are, contact information an about us page, people love to know about your pilots. They love to know if they’ve been with you for a long time. That differentiates you from some of the larger charter companies that have a high turnover and unhappy pilots and everything else. All of those things that you can differentiate.

If you do other services like dry cleaning, car detailing, other things like that while people are away. Packages and partnerships, things like, if you are in an area that does sporting events, like the PGA tour, things like that, you may want to include some information about the things that your customers care about. We always say your website shouldn’t be about you, it should be about your customers. That’s exactly what we’re talking about here, what do your customers want…

John: Yeah.

Paula: …and how can you best serve them better than the other charter options that they have available to them.

John: Exactly.

Paula: Okay. If you can do that, your website’s going to be very successful. Of course, that’s aside from the SEO and all of the other industry best practices that, I’m going to say go without saying, but they don’t go without saying, but they go without saying in this episode, because we can’t cover everything, right.

John: Right.

Paula: Okay. If you have a charter company and you would like us to have a look at it and make some suggestions and things like that, we’d be happy to. You can go ahead and schedule a complimentary consultation and we will spend half an hour with you and send you some reports and other things about the competitive landscape in your area.

If you do decide to do a website refresh with us before the end of August, we have some new copywriters so you can get some really nice customer success stories, work on your bios on your about us page, interview your people and interview your customers, other things like that for free. You get three hours of copy-writing with your website refresh.

John: Great.

Paula: Yeah. Cool. So see you next week.

John: Stay safe, healthy and happy.