LONDON -- What client -- or agent, for that matter -- stuck in a
long airport security line, tarmac traffic or a cramped economy
cabin wouldn't give an arm and a leg to be whisked away to a
private jet, departing where they wanted, when they wanted?
Although that prospect is a pipe dream for most, new British
luxury operator Jeffersons is looking to sell U.S. travel agents
and high-end clients on commissionable European short breaks
pairing private jet transportation with luxury hotel stays.
"Our product is built around the growing number of travelers who
resent the long check-in lines and waiting times involved with
scheduled flights and who want improved service from what's on
offer at the moment," said Mike Bevens, sales and marketing
"There's not much that's genuinely new in the travel product
market," he added. "This fits things so well at the moment, in
terms of convenience and a sense of security."
The lowdown ...
Launched last October in the U.K. and just now entering the U.S.
market, Jeffersons operates a chartered fleet of four- to
eight-seat private jets from London to -- or between -- most
airports in Europe.
Clients set their own travel times, check baggage at their
planes and enjoy immigration and customs preclearance.
The company also publishes a Jeffersons Private Jet Holidays
brochure -- recently mailed to Virtuoso agencies in the States --
of 30 prepackaged, two-night air-and-hotel plans across western
Catalog prices start at about $3,995 per person, based on four
people traveling together and staying at the Montalembert Hotel in
Paris; packages include air by private jet; champagne and snacks en
route; limousine or helicopter transfers; suite or equivalent
accommodations; and continental breakfasts or meals.
Brochure prices top out at about $30,350 per person for a
two-person, seven-night stay at the Hotel Cala di Volpe in
Classified in categories such as "tranquil," "chic" and
"glowing," destinations include cities such as Paris; Florence,
Italy; Dublin, Ireland; Barcelona, Spain; and Berlin, and resorts
in Sardinia and Portofino, Italy; and on the Cote d'Azur and in
Saint-Tropez in France.
Although Jeffersons mainly sells direct to consumers in Britain,
it views travel agents as the conduit to the high-end market in the
The company normally pays 5% on prepackaged breaks, said Bevens,
"but from the U.S. agency point of view, most bookings will be
tailor-made, so we'll build whatever commission would be
Jeffersons can craft air-and-hotel vacations to any destination
in Europe, including Russia; the company envisions potential U.S.
clients connecting from business-class or Concorde flights at major
international airports across the Continent.
"This brochure just whets the appetite, and many clients tailor
the programs they want," said Bevens. "In fact, our first clients
went to Austria for skiing -- and we don't even feature ski resorts
in our brochure."
Jeffersons also offers complete concierge services and can tack
add-on services, reservations and excursions -- perks it views as
essential for U.S. vacationers -- onto its packaged or custom-built
"If clients want a yacht for the day, a golf professional to
take them out on the greens, or just a restaurant reservation, it's
no problem," said Bevens.
... On the high end
Travel is aboard two-engine Citation and Learjet planes piloted
by a crew of two; cabin staff can be hired at extra cost.
Champagne, soft drinks and a snack hamper are offered on board, and
some jets feature DVD entertainment systems.
Bevens said Jeffersons' business-jet holiday packages differ
from competing products in that clients don't have to share a plane
The company's product "is for two to six people who want to
travel in their own little cocoon," he added.
"It's built around a convenience and style that flows through
the whole vacation," Bevens said. "That's vitally important if
you're dealing with clients who are cash-rich but time-poor; they
want the best -- but as quickly and efficiently as possible."
Those concerns are exactly what led managing director Robin
Fawcett, former owner of successful U.K. tour operator Kirker
Holidays, to found Jeffersons in the first place -- after a year of
careful market research and product development.
"He happened to travel on a low-cost airline one day, had a lot
of problems and hassles, and thought there had to be a better way
to travel, particularly at the top end of the market," explained
Bevens, formerly of top-end operator Abercrombie & Kent.
For more information, call (011) 44-870 850-8181, send an e-mail
to [email protected] or visit www.jeffersons.com.