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Harvey Murphy

Program Sales Executive, New York

Have your day to day responsibilities changed with COVID-19?

In terms of my day-to-day tasks not much has changed, which is nice because it feels familiar. I still wake up, have a morning meeting with my team — granted, remotely — and discuss what needs to be done to get a deal to the door. I might even say it is helping me to work from home, as I am removing over an hour in commuting, allowing me to answer emails quicker and get more work done.

At the very beginning when COVID-19 first hit, we had an influx of enquiries, especially from people trying to understand how private aviation and our repatriation flight program, Community Support, worked. Most people were curious to understand what VistaJet could offer that others in the industry could not.

Did you find that the enquiries you were getting were mainly from first time flyers? Or were you engaging with people who were already flying private?

It was a real mix. From an experienced flyer standpoint, particularly aircraft owners, the pandemic has been a unique opportunity for them to step back and really evaluate their asset portfolio. They can actually ask themselves whether it is worth having a $20 million+ aircraft sitting in a hangar, when they may or may not be able to use it. Because of this, VistaJet’s asset-free offering is engaging a lot of interest from experienced flyers looking for the best value option. For other flyers like Fractional Owners or Jet-Card Members, most of them already have a flying solution in place and are simply in an exploratory, information gathering phase. For them it is about collecting information and collateral so they can make an informed decision later on.

A lot of the first-time flyers we have engaged have enquired because they want to connect with their families. I had a flight request for a family in California, who were trying to get to Michigan so that they could enjoy the 4th of July weekend with their grandparents. Flying private is new to a lot of people, but it’s great to see that they are willing to engage and view VistaJet as a solution. To me it means that we have a pretty strong business model and brand presence, along with our partner brand XO.

You mentioned XO, do you find you are engaging and working more with them to handle enquiries and flight requests?

100%, my engagement with XO has increased tenfold since the start of lockdown. As a matter of fact, the trip I alluded to above for the family flying to Michigan was on an XO* aircraft. Where VistaJet has been at capacity on the silver and red fleet, it’s been great to have XO* as a resource to ensure that we can support all enquiries. It’s important that everyone works together during this time to capture more business, the team dynamics are definitely evolving as a result of this.

Has your outreach strategy changed?

We’ve definitely narrowed down who we are speaking with and how we are speaking with them. In these times, it’s important to get our messaging out there and for people to know that we’re ready, able, and willing to arrange flights, but of course doing it in a sensitive and mindful way is even more important. I usually like to take the approach of “we’re here if you need us, but by no means should you feel obligated to entertain me” — corporations and individuals tend to appreciate this approach more.

In terms of targeting, we’ve been looking at the tech industry more. For many executives in these companies it’s still business as usual, so they are looking for a safe flying solution to get from point A to point B. Others may already have an aircraft that they own but are looking to reduce the cost on their balance sheet and in this instance, I would typically introduce them to the VistaJet Program offering. The medical field has also evolved. With COVID-19 we’ve seen a lot of medical labs/factories requesting the use of private jets to transport goods.

The pandemic has slowed everything down and allowed us to pinpoint leads clearly and carefully reach out to them.

Were there any new customers you welcomed during the pandemic which stood out?

There was one. Back to the point I was making about companies needing to reevaluate their assets and look at the best financial options for themselves, this particular company was initially looking to lease an aircraft as they had several American executives traveling for work and charting private jets on an ad hoc basis. We managed to speak with them during their decision-making process. After highlighting the financial benefits of the VistaJet Program, the best-in-class service standards and our global reach, we managed to close a deal for 600 hours. It just goes to show that even during a pandemic, companies aren’t afraid to close a deal if it means benefiting the company in the long run.

Are you seeing positive signs for the future?

Things are already getting better. I worked over the weekend and we had a flurry of new requests coming through, probably two, if not three times the amount we got the month before. This just illustrates that people are engaging with us, and ultimately see how we can help them. It’s been a rollercoaster, but we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now as bookings continue to increase.

*XO Global LLC is not a direct air carrier and does not operate any aircraft. All flights will be operated by properly licensed air carriers or foreign air carriers. All services are subject to the terms and conditions available at flyxo.com/legal/. Fla. Seller of Travel Ref. No. ST42114.

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