When Montage International’s chief sales & marketing officer Chris Hamaway lost a $100,000 villa booking at one of his resorts because the potential customer couldn’t secure enough airline seats and didn’t want to venture into the opaque world of private jet charters, he knew there was a need to find a private aviation partner.
While these alliances have become common, his three-year search led him to realize he needed something different. “We didn’t want to be one of 27 logos on a web page offering a 5% discount with a bunch of fine print,” he says.
Discussions that started over a year ago ended this week at Van Nuys-based Jet Edge, the ninth-largest for-hire private jet operator in North America, which has over 90 super-midsize and large-cabin aircraft.
While there are hard benefits you would expect, like free nights for members of Jet Edge’s Reserve jet card program – and special charter rates for customers staying at either Montage or Pendry properties – executives are hoping to deliver something more, something they believe others have missed.
Beyond the cut and paste VIP perks that are typically part of these deals, the two companies are working towards a continually growing integration of services. On the Jet Edge side, that means it will be training its cabin crews and customer contact teams about the Montage properties, so they are familiar with the layouts and amenities. In the future, technology may enable flight attendants to assist in booking or changing spa appointments or dinner reservations inflight.
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On the ground, Jet Edge customers will receive special treatment akin to Montage’s best customers. At each property, general managers will organize personalized amenities based on your interests, from cooking classes to a family outing with the Bernese Mountain dogs that are part of its Canine Ambassador Program. In other words, the goal is to offer something more than a complimentary bottle of wine, cheese plate and note from the general manager.
If you are staying at any of the group’s hotels and resorts, which are located from Maui and Los Cabos to South Carolina and soon New York City, there are discounted one-way flight prices. Jonah Adler, Jet Edge’s chief commercial & marketing officer, says the tariffs are better than anything consumers can buy directly. One-way pricing means you don’t have to pay for ferry flights, an expensive proposition on big jets when traveling to Mexico or Hawaii. From the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, South Florida and Texas, there are flat rates to each hotel.
“We didn’t want a lot of asterisks,” says Adler, pointing to the litany of rules and disclaimers that typically come along with special offers. Hamaway says Jet Edge’s top safety ratings along with its large cabin fleet was key. “Many of our guests travel with friends and extended families and nannies,” he says.
Beyond the high touch service will be special events, packages and access offered first to Jet Edge clients. An example is a six-day event at Montage Los Cabos celebrating the 10th anniversary of Atelier Crenn, the world-renowned restaurant in San Francisco. Highlights include a 10-course menu of Atelier Crenn signature favorites and an array of distinct Baja flavors at one of the resort’s signature venues. The limited seating allows guests the chance to engage master chefs while enjoying curated, sommelier-selected wines.
All five Montage properties that were open at the end of last year hold 5-star ratings from the inspectors at Forbes Travel Guide. Its Healdsburg location in wine country opened in February. In 2018, Pendry’s Baltimore hotel was ranked U.S. #1 hotel in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards.
Both Hamaway and Adler say the focus of building the partnership going forward will be around creating more unique experiences. Adler says, “When you are on a Jet Edge flight and the cabin attendant can talk to you about the new cabanas at the pool, that’s the type of interaction our clients remember.”