How BLADE Is Combining Image and Aviation to Make Flying Stylish Again
BLADE has become known as the 'Uber of Helicopters' and is the largest arranger of helicopter flights for civilian travel in the US. The company has just launched a 5-minute service that operates between Manhattan and New York and is tapping into the current on-demand transportation market, targeting young, affluent commuters.
Before the age of budget airlines, aviation was a luxurious affair which really only attracted the wealthiest of customers. People wore their "Sunday best" to board a plane. Flying was special. It signified status, wealth and prosperity. Today, however, flying isn't necessarily such a glamorous experience - but BLADE wants to bring some of that glamor back, while at the same time offering a flight service as an alternative to the daily commute by road or rail (so long as you can afford it). As BLADE Founder Rob Wiesenthal puts it, BLADE is focused on "bringing back precision, style, and detail to aviation."
For $195, customers can book a seat on a sleek helicopter to be whizzed across NYC - and BLADE has been able to apply the same digital technology employed by Uber, meaning that customers can now book their seats instantly by simply using a mobile app.
BLADE is one of many up-and-coming companies that focus on selling experiences and lifestyle over specific products. The company's carefully curated Instagram page has a strong focus on targeting a younger and more image-conscious generation of people.
This is key in the marketing of BLADE's service, as it means the company can organically channel lifestyle- and experience-based marketing campaigns to its target audience on the channel they use most. Younger people today are spending more of their disposable income on experiences rather than products, and this is the market BLADE is tapping into.
The idea that many young people are choosing to have memorable experiences rather than material possessions is something that the aviation market can harness by focusing on style and comfort over affordability. BLADE as a company has become massively popular, mainly because of its mission to rediscover the former luxury that aviation once held in the 50s and 60s.
Aviation and practicality
Flying can also provide a solution to a lot of the congestion that is occurring within the US currently.
"We are trying to solve a huge problem," said Wiesenthal. "We're dealing with an infrastructure in New York City that was designed hundreds of years ago. So, you have three options. You can make the roads wider, you can go underground, which we already did, or you can go into the sky. That's why BLADE is evolving into an urban air mobility company."
Like ride-hailing technology company Uber, the BLADE Continuous Service offers customers a method of on-demand travel they can access simply by using their smartphones. Once you've put in your request for a trip, you are picked up from a departure lounge by a BLADE taxi driver and taken to a helipad where your seat on a helicopter awaits you. When the flight has landed, another BLADE taxi is there, ready to whisk you off to your destination.
The whole booking process is completed via a few simple clicks on a mobile app, providing customers with an easy solution to get from one location to the next quickly and efficiently.
"We fly more people in and out of city centers than any other company in the US right now. We want to focus on the areas where we see friction. Our sweet spot is this under 50 mile, 'get out of the congestion' model. That's the friction we want to address," said Wiesenthal.
BLADE has been able to successfully pinpoint its market focus - affluent young professionals - and tune its marketing to cater to them through mobile technology and its Instagram account. The company has managed to successfully merge the practicalities of avoiding rush hour traffic with the luxurious image of airborne travel from times gone by.
With our world changing so rapidly and people having much less time, companies must find smart solutions to the issues that we are presented with. BLADE has found a creative way to significantly cut down on the amount of time people spend traveling or commuting from one part of the US to another.
Busy people need to find quicker modes of transport to avoid getting stuck in congested city traffic. By combining faster travel with a stylish image, BLADE stands a great chance of achieving its goal of becoming aviation's answer to Uber.
You can hear BLADE's Head of Digital Acquisitions and Marketing, Andy Rapp, speak at Digital Travel Connect US 2019, taking place this October at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.