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On demand options represent a rapidly growing area of the private jet charter business. One of the biggest factors driving this trend is the attraction of choice.
Thomas Flohr, who has spent 20 years pioneering the global private jet industry, opened up the market to more alternatives with his creation of XO in 2019.
Flohr designed XO, which allows clients to book private jet travel through an online platform or an Aviation Advisor, to meet the needs of on demand business aviation. When he announced the company’s debut, Flohr told the SherpaReport that it allowed for the “instant booking, instant payment, and instant execution” that modern travelers need.
His prediction proved correct. In the past year, the number of people booking flights through on demand services increased 20%.
XO Combines Latest Technology With Customer-Centric Approach
The roots of XO begin with the 2018 purchase of XOJET commercial arm and the 2019 purchase of JetSmarter by Vista. Founded by Flohr, the Vista group of private aviation companies provides worldwide business flight services that include VistaJet, the only global private aviation company launched by Flohr in 2004. In 2019, Vista launched XO, which combined the customer-centric approach taken by XOJET with the technology from JetSmarter, creating a cutting-edge, on demand platform for private flyers.
Through XO, customers have the ability to book an entire private flight or a seat on an existing flight. The main offering through XO are their memberships which best match the frequency of client travel, whether it’s weekly or a few times a year. XO offers access to a fleet of over 2,400 safety-vetted aircraft spanning all cabin categories, including the Vista Members’ fleet.
How XO Works
The key to XO is the company’s digital platform that allows clients to instantly book a flight, either through the company website, via the XO app or an Aviation Advisor. They also can use the site or app to find current pricing and available global routes. The idea is to allow people to book a private jet flight instantly from wherever they are, 24 hours a day.
XO provides each client with a dedicated Aviation Advisor who walks them through the process, providing guidance and answering questions.
Before the flight, the XO Client Services team arranges amenities such as catering, ground transportation, and concierge that meet each client’s preferences. On the day of the flight, they greet each passenger at the private jet terminal and assist them with anything they need. At the final destination, they arrange the required ground transportation.
Clients can choose to “buy as they fly” or join an XO membership program that offers a variety of options. The XO Reserve Membership offers priority access to the Vista Members’ fleet and requires a $250,000 minimum deposit. While the XO Membership is designed for those who wish to book seats or entire flights, offering limited access to the Vista Members’ fleet of 300-plus aircraft. It requires a $100,000 minimum deposit (unused deposits are refundable).
Members can earn up to 4% credit on each flight. In addition, XO memberships are refundable and members have no blackout dates or expiration. XO also offers members preferred pricing and access to travel and event opportunities from partner companies.
Customers also benefit from how XO structures its flights. As Thomas Flohr told Forbes, “The customer books an entire airplane to fly [from] New York to Aspen. It costs maybe $25,000, but they can bring the price down to $12,000 because they sell four seats.”
Providing a “Journey Beyond the Jet”
Similar to VistaJet, Thomas Flohr focuses on creating an elevated experience for XO clients. The company recently announced XO Firsts, a program that offers those who fly with XO access to products and services from partner brands.
XO Firsts are available on a first-come, first-served basis. They include complimentary access to sporting and cultural events. Examples include behind-the-scenes access to a racing weekend in Austin, Texas, and a day spent on a yacht off the coast near Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For those with a more artistic bent, XO Firsts offered a personal invitation to Brazilian painter Romero Britto’s Palace Studio in Miami for an interactive tour, as well as a private dinner hosted by Britto and prepared by celebrity chef Daniel Boulud.
Leona Qi, President of Vista in the U.S., said in a statement that the company created XO Firsts to offer Members more travel possibilities and enhance their membership experience. “Each XO Firsts includes a complimentary beyond-the-jet travel opportunity designed to align with the passion points and travel interests of our innovative member community — including private viewing and personal interaction at sports and cultural events and relaxing getaways in unique locations,” she said.
Who Is Thomas Flohr?
Vista Founder and Chairman Thomas Flohr created a global private aviation company after seeing the need for better charter jet service during his time working in the asset finance business.
The Swiss businessman, who also races with Ferrari as part of the Vista AF Corse racing team, also saw the inefficiency in private corporations owning jets. Used infrequently, the jets represent a high cost with relatively little return. He formed VistaJet in 2004 to offer a subscription-based way for people to only pay for the private jet travel they actually need, while accessing an entire fleet anytime, anywhere around the world.
“I saw high inefficiencies and low utilization of assets, with jets sitting in one base and only occasionally being used,” Flohr told Gentleman’s Journal. “This didn’t make sense to me, so I came up with a solution where you could take a jet wherever you needed to, you’d know exactly which aircraft you’d be getting, and you’d have guaranteed quality of service.”
With the formation of Vista and the launch of XO, Thomas Flohr continues to operate as a key player in the growing on-demand trend in private jet travel he helped create, with a strong dose of the luxury and perks his private jet companies are famous for providing.