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My Other Ride is a Bentley

Posted: May. 1st, 2008  |  By JustLuxe TeamEditorial Staff
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Private Aviation Services: How do you satisfy the customer who has everything? For luxury brands, that is one of the eternal questions - and one crucial to private aviation in particular. Private aircraft are at the top of the luxury heap; their clients' are the wealthiest people in the world. And perhaps no company has worked harder to cracking the code of how to satisfy the earning elite than Blue Star Jets.

"For a long time the traditional private jet ad had a business man in a suit walking off a plane, but today's customer is not juts a guy in the suit", says Ricky Sitomer, CEO of Blue Star Jets. "This is a finicky clientele, they move around a lot, they are diverse, and they make you work for their loyalty." To appeal to them and keep their attention, you have to think outside of the box.

Blue Star Jets first caught our eye last year when they rolled out private aviation's first rewards program, allowing customers to receive points for every dollar they spend and can be redeemed at an online store for luxury items such as Bang Olufsen televisions, diamond jewelry, and in-flight massages. Clients with open debit accounts accrue points at a rate of five to one. The program met with success, but left the company in the rather interesting position of figuring out how to further demonstrate its customer appreciation.

Starting this past January, the company has begun gifting their top clients with a Bentley Continental GT.

The program is simple: Put up $1 million on your Blue Star Jets SkyCard and the company will put a Bentley Continental GT in your driveway for a year. "We have a lot of car lovers, and a Bentley is the most luxurious thing besides a private jet so we are giving it to them," said the CEO.

Sitomer, a car lover himself, knows first hand. His fleet includes a Bentley Continental GT, as well as a Ferrari Maranello, a Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet, two Range Rovers and an Escalade. Which is his favorite?

"Right now I would have to say the Bentley because it is the newest," he explains, "but I am partial to the Maranello, I must say, because it is a Ferrari and it drives like a race car."

The company, which was founded shortly after 9/11 by Sitomer and fellow business partner Todd Rome, operates as a private jet broker. According to Sitomer, after 9/11 increasing concerns about safety and the inconvenience of commercial travel started pushing more people to look into flying privately, but were not flying enough to justify owning their own aircraft.

"There are a lot of new fliers, a different generation of moneyed individuals from various different backgrounds are utilizing private jets to go to second or third homes to to Europe for the summer or to see their mothers in Florida," says Sitomer.

With offices all over the world, including Aspen, New York, Beverly Hills, Miami, Chicago and London, Sitomer has seen the market shift with his own eyes. With such a variegated customer base, Sitomer has adopted a philosophy of customer service that he calls "personalized luxury".

"People have their own ideas of luxury, so we try to accommodate their ideas," Sitomer explains. "If you want catering from Nobu or a yoga instructor on board or a facial or customized aircraft for your trip, we will arrange it."

Business theory tells you that trying to be all things to all people is usually a recipe for disaster. But for Blue Star Jets, success is less dictated by following the conventional wisdom than following the numbers. Their customer retention rate is at an industry best 91 percent. And they have again been ranked No. 1 in customer service and brand luxury by The Luxury Institute, besting names like Net Jets and Marquis.

James Borden
Aviation expert
JustLuxe.com Contributor
jamesborden2@gmail.com
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