Online charter booking portal Victor aims to increase available capacity almost tenfold. As of the end of last year, its site showed approximately 1,300 available private jet seats at any given time and it wants to boost this number to approximately 10,000 seats by the end of this year’s first quarter.
Victor allows members to book aircraft directly for what it guarantees are fixed, all-inclusive rates and then offers individual seats for sale to other members. According to Victor founder and CEO Clive Jackson, it is now looking to expand its customer and operations base beyond Western Europe to include more activity in the U.S., the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Since the company’s launch in August 2011, Victor’s membership has increased from approximately 700 people to 2,727 as of January 16. Last year, these members booked some 300 separate flights through the system. Victor takes a flat 5-percent commission from members for each booking, or 30 percent of the income from any seats resold.
“After our first full year of trading we feel pretty happy with ourselves,” Jackson told AIN. He indicated that the volume of business conducted on the Fly Victor site has increased more than fourfold.
Elimination of Intermediaries
According to Jackson, 90 percent of clients booking a second flight through Victor used the site exclusively, meaning that they do not approach a charter broker or operator as well. Victor provides members with full details of the aircraft being offered online so there is nothing to stop them from approaching operators directly.
“We believe we made the right decision to start a business with an approach that delivers complete transparency,” said Jackson. “Operators can see who the repeat bookers are, so they don’t necessarily feel obliged to pitch the lowest price to win the business. It helps some operators to fly routes with higher margins.” In his view, the Victor approach to booking flight has driven up utilization for registered operators, some of which had as many as 30 bookings from the site last year.
Jackson argued that the Victor approach avoids the cost of charter bookings being surreptiously inflated by the involvement of intermediaries, who he characterized as “sticky fingers.” He believes that the level of transparency involved in the booking process has encouraged corporate clients and government officials to use Victor, which had originally been conceived mainly with wealthy individuals in mind.
The company has recruited Steve Finch as director of operator relationships and he is seeking to expand the array of aircraft offered through Victor, and the geographical spread of operators making capacity available through the site. The company is also entering into agreements to connect flight-scheduling software with the site to allow more real-time feeds to show aircraft and crew availability.
The Fly Victor site allows members to offer to other members individual seats on aircraft they have chartered. The price of seats fluctuates according to how many have been sold.
Victor is now seeking fresh private investment to fund plans to expand the service.