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Tag: airlines

Are We Hard Wired?

Hardwired Control Matrix

It has been a challenging month at Social Flights.   Our soft launch story was broken by FAST COMPANY, then it was quickly picked up by  THE NEW YORK TIMESBLOOMBERG TV,  FORBESINC. TECH,  WASHINGTON POST, and MASHABLE, then picked up by various other magazines and bloggers across the web.

Huge Interest in The Business Model

Social flights picked up tens of thousands of hits and several thousand members within a very short period of time.  We also received almost a thousand RFQ’s for charter service and our web traffic rank according to Alexa.com is under 20,000 – better than any other private jet broker in the country, including NetJets.

I personally communicated with dozens of 3rd party entrepreneurs that want to plug into our value proposition and we are discussing multiple high value partnerships in North America and around the world.

Are We Hard Wired?

Introducing such a radical approach brings many challenges, especially in the area of customer expectation.  People are hard wired to schedules, and lines, and pat downs, and waiting, waiting waiting. Social Flights was never conceived to dictate on a market how they should fly and to where.  Social flights will certainly not take people someplace where they don’t want to go – like an airport hub for transfer.  Social Flights will never hold a passenger’s dignity hostage behind some hidden cost or irrelevant regulation.

Losing The Hard Wire

We estimate that Social Flights will optimize at about  2.5 Million members – or roughly 5000 people in each of 500 locations across North America.  At that point our service model will begin to “simulate” the selection and convenience of the commercial airlines.  Keep in mind – this system will “simulate” scheduled service except without hard wires.

5000 people X 500 places model

  • This is the point where there will be a high likelihood that 8-10 people will all want to go to the same place from the same place within reasonable intervals of departure times.
  • This is the point where fluctuations in price and schedule such as de-icing costs, landing fees, fuel cost, or seat cancellation policy can be absorbed across the whole system rather than an individual passenger load.
  • This is the point where ground support vendors will commit substantial discount incentives to controlled bundles of passengers.
  • This is a point where the data that is generated by The Value Game and held solely by the players becomes valuable enough to predict the outcomes of future Value Games.

Not An Easy Puzzle to Solve:

Social Flights is attempting to do something that has never been accomplished in social media with such high value shared assets.  We seek to answer the question: Can people organize themselves around the concept of “Value” much like we have organized ourselves around the concept of “Money”.  Based on our earliest readings, the answer is that people are not as Hard Wired to money as those who control money would like us to believe. Looks like they’d jump the first plane out of Dodge if given a chance.

Watching The Birds Play The Value Game

To some entrepreneurs, the problems with the aviation industries signal many insurmountable obstacles.  At  Social Flights these challenges portend an extraordinary opportunity for a new business method to bring efficiency, order, social value while eliminating artificial barriers.

Social Flights value proposition is very strong for travel ranging from 200-1000 miles between smaller airports. Social Flights can deploy quickly in response to specialized market needs, environmental condition, opportunities, or events. Social flights adapts the mission of the aircraft to meet the opportunities presented to the market.

Conversely, commercial aviation struggles dearly in this segment because they try to get the market to meet the pre-ordained mission of the aircraft. The entire air transportation system would be best served if commercial aviation concentrated on the long haul/high volume “migration” service.  There is no reason why private aviation cannot perform the job that gridlocks commercial aviation.  This would make both industries more efficient.

Commercial Aviation’s Race to Nowhere

The Deregulation Act of 1978 in the Commercial Aviation system led to the development of the Hub and Spoke system whereas commercial carriers would fly people from small locations into a one or more large “Hub” cities where they would transfer on to the next destination – usually another hub, or on to the final destination.

Deregulation undermined point-to-point service regardless of market demand, ignoring social objectives of the passengers, having no regard for the final destination of the passengers, and blowing off the “time-value” of their passengers.  Recently, the ever expanding security layer has reached the point of personal privacy invasion.  With the age of the Internet, sites such as Travelocity and Expedia diluted the “service class” market segmentation of the airlines in favor of the “price class” segmentation of airlines.  These forces caused the commercial airline experience to become a deceptive, deeply invasive, and physically strenuous experience.

Private Aviation’s starvation diet

Meanwhile, the private aviation sector has fallen under the thumb of listing agents who tie up the industry behind the gilded walls of Charter Brokerage Houses.  FAA regulation hampers the ability to attract passengers on a per-seat basis, which gives private operators a hugely limited marketing position.  Brokers took over to mark-up the price of chartered flights far beyond the reaches of a mainstream market.

For these reasons, the private aviation sector has had difficulty organizing itself into a self-sustaining cooperative, until now.  In Fact, the smaller the airplane and the more widely distributed the airports, the simpler and more efficient the whole social system can become.

Social Flights changes the Game by Changing the Mission.

Who Needs Anti-Social Travel?

I recently returned from a trip from Seattle to Nashville. I am involved in launching a new airline applying The Social Value Game to a legacy industry.  The objective of this venture is to match a fleet of 15,000 private jets to social media networks for efficient door-to-door travel. The start-up is largely founded on the premise that a dismal travel experience is a dismal social experience.

Here is how my trip from Seattle to Nashville went using Commercial Airlines:

11:00 I get in my car and leave home for a 1:00 Boarding
11:45 Drive 25 miles through heavy traffic and bad weather, arrive at self-park car lot near Airport.  I get into a cold shuttle bus.
12:00 Arrive at Airport Security and strip down to last layers of clothing
12:15 leave airport security after long line after harassment over 3 oz of toothpaste remaining in a 6 oz tube and a telephoto lens that obviously resembled a printer cartridge.
12:30 Arrive at gate. Airline took my baggage away because it did not fit in the “Impossible box” and charged $25.00 baggage fee. (95% of all carry on bags would never fit in the “Impossible Box” so why me?)
1:00 Flight was full.  Poked, bumped, cramped, body complies to shape of existing space
1:30 departure was late. Connection in Salt Lake City was tight
3:30 Lands in Salt Lake city, late. No attempt to release tight connections first
3:50 Exit aircraft with 10 minutes to use restroom, grab sandwich, and run 1/2 mile to the next gate
4:20 Board flight to Nashville. Crowded. Window seat. Poked, bumped, cramped, body complies to shape of existing space
4:30 Flight leaves. 30 minutes into flight, I drop my Ipod under seats. Absolutely impossible to recover until airplane lands. No music, sucks.
8:00 Airplane arrives at Nashville (10:00pm Local time). Baggage claim took forever
9:00 (11:00 local): Finally get into rental car
10:40 arrive at hotel near location
11:00 (1:00 local) set alarm for 7 am local (5:00 am Seattle time) head hits pillow
5:00 am wake up sore, tired, and feeling oppressed.

Total Travel Time 12 hours one way and 24 hours RT door to door.

One complete day of productivity wasted. One day of life squandered. Zero time spent with my family or friends. Zero personal time to enjoy or reflect. Zero moments feeling secure, healthy, or self-worthy. 24 hours of confrontation with my surroundings. Zero moments of inspiration. Zero opportunities to be exposed to new ideas. Zero interesting people to learn from. Zero trees, flowers, sunshine, or fresh air. Zero fresh food; no fruit, vegetables, or raw nuts. Zero memories – except bad. No laughter, no friendship, no community. No exercise except running in fear.

The opportunity of the next economic paradigm is the ability to articulate the social value on all of these things – the ability to predict into the future the True Value of all the things that are squandered by an anti-social experience.  That is the essence of The Ingenesist Project.

Who Needs Anti-Social Travel?

With a private airplane, I could leave my home at 11:00 for a 11:30 departure at a small local airfield 6 miles from my house. The flight would have been about 4 hours long and I would arrive at my destination for dinner reservations with my colleagues. The flight would cost less than 1400 dollars round trip and I could return a full day earlier (eliminating 2 nights) than the the commercial flight for the same set of meeting objectives.

If a person’s time is worth 50 dollars per hour, the difference between 10 hours of flight time is 500 dollars off of a 1000 dollar ticket. The commercial flight costs ($300), including parking ($100), airport taxes($50), extra airline fees (50 dollars), car rental ($300), 2 extra hotel night ($400) for a total of 1200 dollars (I have the receipts to prove it).

So if 10 hours of your life is less than 200 dollars, then fly commercial. If your time, family, community – your life – is worth more than 20 dollars per hour, then you should consider taking America’s newest airline.

Thank You for Flying Citizen Airlines, LLC

I will be introducing a number of applications of Innovation Economics in Social Media as continue writing part 2 of my book. The objective is to identify new business opportunities by disrupting the old economic paradigm with new ways to organize people around social media. In this case, a troubled industry would team up with communities that are not their direct customers:

Corporate-jet-001I live in Edmonds Washington near Paine Field – home of the sprawling Boeing manufacturing site of the 747, 777, and 787 aircraft. For years, the county executives have been trying to lure major airline service into Paine Field Airport claiming the economic benefits would far outweigh the drawbacks. Paine Field is about 1 hour north of Seattle Tacoma Airport and about 3 hours South of Vancouver, BC.

Many efforts over the years to locate another airport in this gap have hit political and environmental land mines. Paine Field expansion is no different. For years, the county, state, and FAA have been funding “improvements” that look a lot like accommodations for scheduled airline service. The county executive has been courting carriers, lobbying ‘unaffected voters’ and corralling legislators to this grand economic development cause.

The citizens of neighboring communities have not stood still. They have commissioned studies of every environment and quality of life factor from home value impact to distracted learning at the local schools. They cite urban blight, social deviance, and under development at other similar expansion projects. Political careers are made and broken over support or opposition to the airport expansion.

So far, the market has not proven large enough to support a major B737 sized scheduled service. Ironically, there have been very few studies of the impact of private aviation service expansions. Little data is discussed related to the noise foot print of small jets versus large jets. Very little data is presented to the community about distributed vs. concentrated air and car traffic flows and the upscale effects of a private aviation presence.

To the community’s advantage, small private carriers can soak up and diffuse the market that would eventually support a major carrier. These battles are raging all over the country against the political mantra of Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Local communities are running out of money, lawyers, and stall tactics to fight them.

With the price of seat on a (full) private Jet about the same as a business class ticket on a major airline, local communities may want to go into the travel agency business. By using community media, website, a booking website, twitter alerts, and tourism agents to identify and match travelers to destinations combined with some proactive social media marketing, Citizen Airlines LLC can stave off an airport expansion by competing with it.

Meanwhile, unemployed citizens are available to manage an on-line Community Branded jet service (operated by a private carrier). Advertising and marketing can be transferred to the community in exchange for reduced rates and shared access to private aviation reports and data which would help them fight airline expansion.

This requires that the private aviation industry empower communities who are not necessarily their direct customers but are stakeholders none the less. Social Capitalism is the act of elevating oneself by elevating the entire community rather than opressing then for capitalist gains. By giving people a voice, the economy gets a bullhorn.

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