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Why combining chartered and scheduled flights works for MICE

Air Partner - 11 Apr 2016

In the run-up to IMEX 2016, for which Air Partner is arranging the hosted buyer flights for the fifth consecutive year, Clive Chalmers, Director of Commercial Jets UK at Air Partner, discusses the best aviation solutions for group travel.

Air Partner has over 50 years of experience in the MICE industry, acting as a one-stop shop for flights, transfers and accommodation. The specialist team can help fly groups of any size to events across the globe in the most cost effective way possible – whether this is by charter flights, scheduled tickets or a combination of both.

When is a charter the best option for group travel?

If a destination is not directly accessible by scheduled services, then a straight charter is often the best solution. Chartering a flight gives the client the most flexibility and control; not only can they choose the flight date and time, but they can also enjoy a personalised experience both at the airport and on-board. For example, Air Partner recently flew 200 passengers on a business incentive trip without ever revealing the location. The dedicated account team arranged for the destination name to be faded out on the check-in monitors and obscured on all the boarding passes. The undercover mission was a complete success, with the passengers only finding out where they were going when they got there.

Are you able to give us an example of a successful ‘brand experience’ on an incentive trip?

In 2015, our European office organised an incentive trip for a Hamburgian insurance firm which was themed around the destination city, Salzburg. The hostesses at check-in were dressed in traditional rococo costumes and Mozart's serenade was played during boarding. Once onboard, the passengers were served a traditional Austrian quark strudel with custard and on arrival at Salzburg airport, the gate was decked out with Austrian decorations. The theme continued on the return flight as well, with passengers receiving individual Mozartkugels on the flight before being presented with small gift baskets full of Austrian goodies at baggage reclaim. The team also made sure the company’s logo was displayed prominently throughout the trip, featuring on the check-in screens, napkins and headrest covers.

Why and when did Air Partner add scheduled tickets to its service portfolio?

With client budgets being squeezed ever tighter, there has been increasing demand for tailor-made yet cost-effective flight solutions. Depending on the group size, time of travel and destination, scheduled air travel can be a cheaper alternative to charter and as a result we have offered this option for 17 years now. This way our clients can fulfil all their aviation requirements in the same place, with the same high level of service.

When does a combination of charter and scheduled flights work best?

The combination of charter and scheduled flights is becoming increasingly popular as it is often the most cost effective solution - particularly for larger events. For example, it works well when groups of passengers are coming from different locations, as they can fly to one central airport on scheduled flights and then board the same chartered aircraft from there. And depending on the group size, it can be cheaper to charter a smaller plane and then book scheduled tickets for the remaining passengers. For any brief, the most important criteria are cost, time and convenience and so we always provide our clients with several flight options.

What are the advantages of booking with you and not directly with the airlines?

Booking with Air Partner is the easiest and safest way for companies to arrange their air travel. We are a full-service provider, offering everything from VIP service at the gate and specialist catering to off-airport check-in (OAC) at the hotel. We take all the hassle out of booking, offering 24/7 global support to our customers and ensuring that all flights are personally supervised. We are fully independent and not affiliated to a particular fleet or one particular aircraft, so we can give clients the best possible solutions from across the entire market.

Crucially, Air Partner also takes full contractual responsibility for its flights, meaning that we are required to rectify any problems that may occur. Our CharterPLUS policy gives our clients a replacement guarantee, meaning that in the event of an issue, they will receive the next available aircraft from our range of suppliers. The policy also protects clients in the case of airline bankruptcy filings.

Will Air Partner be attending the upcoming IMEX conference in Frankfurt, which takes place 19-21 April?

Air Partner’s Travel division is arranging the flights for IMEX’s Hosted Buyer Programme for the fifth consecutive year and therefore it was an easy decision to book our own stand again. We will be exhibiting on stand G220, where we will have our own nail bar so we can treat guests to a free manicure while they learn more about Air Partner’s services. Visitors will also be able to refresh themselves with a fruit smoothie, which will be served 11am-12pm every day as part of the IMEX Wellbeing programme.


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