Fractional Life's Top Fractional Innovators 2011
Welcome to Fractional Life's exclusive list of the fractional ownership industry's top innovators in 2011. Last year, the list was limited to real estate professionals, but this year's has been opened up to all sectors, including aviation, yachting and supercars, allowing us to give a great snapshot of 2011's vital movers and shakers in fractional ownership. So, in alphabetical order, here is the class of 2011.
Sheikh Mubarak Al Suwaiket, International Yacht Collection and Trinity Yachts
Sheikh Mubarak is a man with a vision, and the wherewithal to make that vision a reality. He is chairman of the Al Suwaiket Trading and Contracting Company, which has offices across the Middle East and Europe, and international interests in the construction, oil and gas, real estate, agriculture, education, travel and tourism, and trading sectors. He was recently ranked at number 16 in the Arabian Business.com Rich List. Sheik Mubarak is heavily involved in introducing the concept of fractional superyacht ownership to the Gulf. He is the partner and representative of International Yacht Collection Middle East and Trinity Yachts in the region and spoke about the subject at the 2010 Shared Ownership Fractional Summit Middle East in Abu Dhabi.
“With the proven success seen in different fractional ownership sectors such as in resorts and jets, and with the renewed evidence that the financial crisis is passing, this is certainly to right time to promote the concept of yacht fractional ownership,” he says. “The aforementioned crisis has caused even the affluent to be more prudent in their major expenditures. Fractional ownership is a cost efficient means of enjoying the prestige and luxury without high capital outlay, yet still maintain the status and benefits of full ownership.”
“As with any high dollar, high maintenance low frequency of use assets, i.e. aircrafts, yachts, international vacation real estate etc, I believe cruise lines are trying to apply this concept with some of their exclusive cabins. Who knows, the next frontier in fractional ownership may be space tourism?” he says.
Amy Anderson, Timbers Resorts
Amy Anderson is director of marketing for Timbers Resorts, a resort development, sales and marketing and management specialist which has had a busy 2010, and looks set for an even more hectic 2011, with plenty of innovations on the horizon.
“Timbers Resorts has seen tremendous growth in 2010 as we expanded our brand into hotel, restaurant and spa development and management,” she says. “We made a conscious decision that if we could control every aspect of the experience, whether the meal at the restaurant or the treatment at the spa, then we could really bring added value to our owners and our guests. In 2010, Timbers Resorts brought its first managed hotel into the portfolio of properties called The Sebastian – Vail. This property has three food and beverage outlets as well as a full spa and private residence club in addition to the 100 room hotel. The professional highlights for me were focusing on the expansion of the Timbers Resorts brand to encompass not only five-star fractional clubs but now hotel, restaurants and spas. All maintaining the levels of service and character that people have come to expect from the Timbers brand.”
Anderson says Timbers saw a “major uptick in buyer activity” in 2010, and is positive about the year ahead. “2011 brings more expansion of the portfolio. We are always looking for the perfect locations and properties to get involved with. We are focused on social media initiatives in the first part of the year and the developing culture of Timbers Resorts online. We are also creating an Owners Application for the fractional industry that we will launch in the third quarter of the year. It is a web based application focused on trip planning the fractional reservation selection process.”
“For 2011, we're committed to expanding the Timbers Resorts brand both internationally and in the States. We are focused on Castello di Casole initially and are moving quickly towards the hotel opening at the end of the year. This will be the second managed hotel in the portfolio with more restaurants, bars and spas managed by Timbers Resorts. We are focused on expanding our portfolio of residence clubs in many locations and look forward to announcing another international beach location in the middle of the year. There are many new properties on the horizon for Timbers Resorts. In addition, we are focused on bringing in another area of development and luxury to the Timbers Resorts brand. Another product we feel will be successful in this evolving industry. Stay tuned for future announcements on this later in the year.”
Philip Bacon, HVS Shared Ownership Services
Madrid-based Philip Bacon launched HVS’s Shared Ownership Services for EMEA & Asia division, which specialises in all forms of shared ownership, from fractional interests to branded residences, particularly within hospitality-based mixed resort developments.
“2010 turned out to be a quite a busy year for fractional ownership and HVS Madrid office. The current state of the market is still very challenging but the activity level at the end of the year proved very different from the beginning, with an encouraging level of interest in shared ownership development, in particular fractional ownership, mainly within mixed-use projects. In 2011 we expect to see more fractional ownership products finally being launched as developers reach the point where they need to test market reaction, especially when the potential buyers are still very cautious about parting with their cash. We also expect to see a much clearer distinction being made between investment-driven products (for example those directed at the UK SIPP market) and those products that are squarely focused on providing customers with experience-based products that are not about the price or any potential financial "returns" but about offering true value for money. I look at it as the difference between the FT and the "How to Spend It" supplement that appears every weekend,” says Bacon.
He was heavily involved in the innovative Lausanne Hotel School Strategy Challenge, which saw 150 students taking part in forecasting the future of timeshare, branded residences, and fractional ownership (including private residence and destination clubs).
“What was very clear to me from the Challenge was the emphasis on making a proper distinction between the various major segments of the population, Gen X, Gen Y as well as the ubiquitous Baby Boomers,” says Bacon. “This is not just marketing speak, there has been a real shift in values for many people and the desire to accumulate property as a sign of wealth and success is, for some, becoming far less fashionable, not to mention ecologically questionable at a time when people want to be seen to be doing something to protect the planet.”
“The identification of major capital cities as prime destinations reflects a shift away from the traditional beach, countryside and mountain destinations that have been the focus for so many fractional ownership products to date. However, getting the right city product at the right price is easier said than done, especially when competition for property in limited supply is fierce.”
Looking to the future, Bacon says: “We should not think about a return to the boom period before the global financial crisis began to hit. This crisis has been a warning shot telling us that we simply got it wrong and that we need to think harder about what we develop and for whom. There is no going back; I for one would not want to take any backward steps, the future is a more interesting place than the past.”
Mike Balfour, The Hideaways Club
Mike Balfour OBE is one of the UK's most successful entrepreneurs, building up the Fitness First brand from humble beginnings to one of the largest international chain of health clubs in the UK, Continental Europe, Asia and Australia. Fitness First floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1996 and was taken private in a £415 million management buyout in 2003. With 1.5 million members operating in 21 countries worldwide and over 20,000 employees, Fitness First is now the largest chain of health clubs in the world.
After leaving Fitness First, Balfour founded The Hideaways Club, an international property investment fund that offers its members the opportunity to invest in and exclusively enjoy an entire portfolio of luxury villas, chalets and apartments throughout Europe, Africa, Mauritius and South East Asia. He is also an investor in, and advocate of, fractional yacht ownership.
“In 2010 we added eight new €2 million euro properties to The Hideaways Club portfolio, and now have 30 properties to date in the portfolio in which all members have an equity share,” he says.
During the year the company has looked to forge innovative alliances with other compatible brands, and through tie-ups with Equity Estates and Banyan Tree Private Collection members now have use of 50 properties worldwide. Hideaways saw a 60 per cent increase in membership during the year, and now has 200 members.
Focusing on the growing interest in urban fractionals, The Hideaways Club has recently launched its second fund, The City Collection, which will eventually offer 120 city apartments throughout the world.
Balfour is positive about the future growth of fractional ownership: “The fractional model, more so today than ever suits these uncertain economic times where the sharing of lesser used assets is a more financially astute method of ownership. Therefore to some degree this type of investment should work anywhere and we anticipate very considerable growth in this market over the next few years,” he says.
Carl Berry, Star Resort Group
Carl is CEO of Star Resort Group, which provides sales and marketing, development and management expertise to developers throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. The company also develops resort projects for its own account, and is unique in that aspect.
Berry is candid about the tough year the industry has just been through. “In the US we are still in the midst of the financial collapse and recession beginning in September 2008. A backhanded professional highlight is that my company is still in business! Most of our competitors have closed down. I am proud that we opened our second project in two years, this one at Dye Villas in South Carolina. We opened a Montana project in 2009. I cannot think of another company opening two projects in the midst of the recession. I have also remained positive about the resort real estate business, and that it will come back – eventually.”
Berry is more positive about 2011: “I am modestly optimistic about 2011 due to current, lower tax rates being extended. However, buyers will not come back, for vacation property, until buyer confidence increases and the banks begin to lend again. We have found that very low prices will bring in some buyers, but it’s an uphill challenge to make sales.”
He emphasizes the importance of trying new business techniques and models as a key factor in trading through tough market conditions: “We are rewriting our playbook daily as we try new and varied marketing programs to attract buyers. Once we get to talk to a prospect we have refocused our relationship selling skills, to move the prospect into the sales process. The majority of time this does not work, but when it does we have improved our toolbox and selling skills to pretty much 'marry' the prospect. We just don't let them go unless they 'divorce' us! At the same time we are closing harder than we used to. Better to know if a prospect is interested vs. being led along. This may sound contrary, but it's not. There is no compelling reason for anyone to buy resort real estate today in North America. Amongst the menu of items to attract interest are: very, very low prices, prepayment of HOA dues and amenity fees, deletion of amenity fees, bonus use, Registry Collection vacation weeks, rounds of golf, complementary use of the water ski boats, food and beverage certificates and the like. All this means that when buyer confidence returns it will be very hard to increase prices and reduce the reliance on freebies.”
George Bonelli, SailTime
George Bonelli is the founder and chairman of fractional yacht operator SailTime. If any sector has really felt the pinch of less disposable income in the market, it's the marine sector. But Bonelli is upbeat about the prospects for this company due to a string of new intiatives.
“As a result of the recent financial trauma of the past 24 to 36 months I believe that the shared asset/fractional space will continue to see growth. Due to the continued efforts of the many fractional businesses in the market and the long term viability of many of them the good sense for sharing these low use, high costs assets supports the 'simplifier' movement that has struck the consumer. Many more consumers will be looking to increase the 'experiences' side of their personal balance sheet as opposed to the high cost, low use asset side. I am bullish on our market for the coming year as well as the foreseeable future.”
Our team have been working hard to ensure that we are well positioned as the market(s) turns around. Our continued growth despite marine industry realities has been something that we are extremely proud of. We continue to build close bonds with our manufacturers across the globe. Our newest operations in Australia are seeing explosive growth with the addition of three more locations. Another highlight for me in 2010 was being invited to present at the ICOMIA (International Congress of Marine Industry Associations) annual meeting in Chicago.The continued interest in the fractional concept from outside as well as inside the industry is another indicator of the longer term prospects for what we are doing,” says Bonelli.
He adds: “For 2011, we are planning to focus on new initiatives that will bring value to our customers, both existing and new. New exciting products are being worked on and we expect to see a few new things roll out in spring and summer. Many new locations are in discussions across the globe and building our fleet and customer base organically is a focus. Continuing to hone our operations and improving how we deliver our already market leading products to the market will also be an area of focus for us. We believe 2011 will be a good year for us. More specifically, 2011 is our 10th anniversary and we have already begun offering special promotions to celebrate this milestone in the growth and development of the business. We have a few interesting programs we are working on for this special year that have yet to be announced.”
David Disick, David M Disick Associates
A familiar figure to readers of Fractional Life and Fractional Trade, David Disick is a former Wall Street attorney, a pioneer of the PRC industry, and a regular author and commentator on the fractional ownership industry. He is CEO of David M Disick Associates, a strategic consultancy involved with fractional real estate and was responsible for the launch of one of the first ever PRCs, the award-winning Franz Klammer Lodge in Telluride, Colorado, in 1994.
For much of the last year, Disick has been occupied with the fractional finance conundrum – seeking innovative ways to free up both developer and buyer finance. “In 2010, my company engaged an advisory group within UBS, the multi-national institution, to generate developer and purchaser financing for sound fractional real estate projects,” he says. “Candidates will be developments in major global resort and urban destinations. The engagement resulted after many months of discussing the growth of fractional real estate and the investment opportunities offered by the industry. I am currently finalizing agreements with several developers requesting assistance in raising equity, debt and purchaser financing. They also seek advice on marketing and sales strategies and on structuring fractional offerings with user-friendly reservation systems.”
“I also wrote Fractional Vacation Homes: Marketing and Sales in Challenging Times. This first-of-its-kind book has won accolades from industry leaders and rave reviews from professional media. The book is currently owned by professionals in 15 states in the United States and in six countries abroad,” adds Disick.
Disick is hopeful his efforts in the financial field will bear fruit over the coming 12 months. “In 2011, I foresee potential increased availability of both developer and consumer financing as economies slowly recover. This will not occur of itself, however. Industry professionals need to reach out actively to money center sources and educate them as to the substantial profit opportunities offered by our relatively new and expanding industry.”
John Hare, Yachtplus
As chairman of YachtPlus, John Hare has gained an in-depth understanding of the fractional yacht business. Since 2009, YachtPlus has launched three stunning 41-metre motor yachts designed by Foster & Partners, with a total asset value of €45 million.
Hare says: “It is an innovative design for a groundbreaking launch into the superyacht market. The yachts spend the summer in the Mediterranean and winter in the Caribbean. There are eight owners per yacht and each get four weeks use spread throughout the year. Unlike many fractional offerings, we deliberately decided to not add any premium to the yacht price. We operate on a fully transparent basis as the yachting industry has a poor reputation for inflating costs.”
2010 was an eventful year with Hare's highlights including “getting the second and third yachts launched – construction takes almost two years, so it is good to get the yachts in the water. Spending a night on board with Meg Ryan at the Cannes Film festival was quite fun too.”
“Now that we have sorted out delivery, our focus has been on the logistics of managing a fleet and ensuring that all the owners have a wonderful, unique experience on board. Getting a quick turnaround between owners has been the challenge as well as keeping the yachts in top class condition - there are so many more moving parts on a yacht fleet than a property portfolio! We are getting great feedback from our owners, so all the hard effort is worthwhile.”
2011 holds new challenges for YachtPlus. “We have done the hard bit, in establishing the fleet and our reputation for service delivery. The Rational Rich now have tangible evidence that fractional yacht ownership is the most sensible way to access the unique lifestyle of being on your own yacht,” says Hare. “The fleet and choice of sailing locations will continue to evolve as we start to access owners in Asia, the Middle East and South America. We are bringing new people into what has traditionally been somewhat of a closed/limited market. Very few of the people who can afford yachting are currently in it – fractional yachts significantly reduce the barriers to entry. Many things are described as ‘exclusive’ but your own Norman Foster designed 41-metre yacht is definitely worthy of that label.”
Peter Kempf, Peter Kempf International
With 30 years experience in real estate and 12 years in fractional real estate, Peter Kempf's has been directly involved in the sale and marketing of multi-million dollar properties in 31 states in 22 countries on four continents. He has held positions including director of international real estate for Christies Great Estates, vice president and Midwest regional manager for Sotheby's International Realty, CEO/Europe for DCP International and a member of Who's Who in Luxury Real Estate.
Since leaving DCP, Kempf has launched Peter Kempf International, which has celebrated its first year of successful trading and represents some of the leading fractional and PRC developments around the world, including Palazzo Tornabuoni and Villa Bossi Pucci in Tuscany, The Lodges at Calistoga Ranch in the Napa Valley and, most recently, The Palms, a PRC at Playa Flamingo in Costa Rica.
“There are a couple of professional highlights for 2010,” says Kempf. “First, and most importantly, is the acceptance of the fractional and PRC concept by UK/EU buyers as evidenced by the strong sales made to this market in 2010. Second, is the recognition of this increased market acceptance by UK/EU developers who are now incorporating a Private Residence Club into their development plans.”
Kempf has spent most of career operating in the luxury end of the real estate spectrum, and he sees potential for considerable momentum for fractional products in this sector: “I see continued sales growth in the luxury spectrum in 2011 as more and more buyers learn about the benefits of ownership in a PRC. We are now speaking with buyers who never would have considered a PRC two years ago. They now realize that with a properly structured PRC they can have their cake and eat it too.”
Brad Lincoln, Best Group
Brad Lincoln is CEO of Best Group, which has advised, structured, marketed, sold and operated in fractional ownership developments around the world since 2006.
During 2010 Best Group continued to expand its business, launching a number of innovations including car parks and fractional hotel investment opportunities. “Our financial performance for the year was our best ever, reflecting our exciting products but also rewarding us for being selective and innovative,” says Lincoln. “Products designed by Best Group have achieved sales of over £24 million in 2010, and the order book for early 2011 is already very strong. In addition, our funds related to the shared ownership industry have achieved exceptional performance, one growing by over 17 per cent in its first six months, and the other looking likely to exceed this. We are very pleased to have achieved this performance against an otherwise difficult property market. We have brought shared ownership to new areas, including residential care homes and car parks, and in doing so seem to have tapped into an area that many people are finding attractive. We have also developed excellent relationships with a number of global hospitality brands that we expect will bring the European fractional industry to greater prominence in 2011. In some ways, 2011 could be the year in which fractional ownership comes of age and genuinely challenges more traditional models for property investment and ownership.”
Having broken in to new sectors, Lincoln is keen to bring fractional ownership to a new audience in 2011. “Fractional ownership as a concept can be applied to a huge number of sectors. From sharing the costs of running an expensive car or house, to sharing the benefits of an appreciating asset. In 2011 we plan to expand some of the innovations we introduced in 2010 (such as car parks) and introduce new ones. We are particularly interested in assets which combine investment appeal with a real usage demand – hotels and care homes amongst others. We will also be launching fractional concepts in 2011 which will help selected developers reduce their reliance on banks for construction finance, which will in turn increase investor and developer profitability. We also plan to be instrumental in bringing fractions right into the centre of the mainstream, linked to major hospitality brands,” he says.
Catherine Monaghan, Firstlight The K Club
Catherine Monaghan is project director for Firstlight the K Club, which is selling 1/8th and 1/16th fractional interests at one of Ireland's most iconic resorts. Before joining the Firstlight team she worked as a consultant for various start-up organisations in the travel, communications and financial services sectors. She is also a qualified financial advisor.
It has been a busy year for the K Club fractional project. Monaghan says: “Highlights for 2010 at the K Club include Firstlight being awarded Best European Golf Development and Five Star Award for Best Golf Development in Ireland at the Europe & Africa Awards in Association with Bloomberg Television and The International Property Awards. The K Club Hotel & Golf Resort was also named AA 5 Star Hotel of the Year 2010/2011 which is an accolade bestowed on the top hotel in the country for outstanding service and amenities. Outside of awards, launching Firstlight The K Club in May 2010 saw us bring a number of the UK's top celebrities and sports personalities to the K Club to help us celebrate the launch of the project and host a golf tournament named the Firstlight Challenge. Celebrities included TV's Ant & Dec, actors James Nesbitt, Dougray Scott and Claire Forlani, and football legends Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan, Dwight York and Gary Speed.”
“Firstlight hopes that 2011 will prove just as celebrated with the closing of our first properties in Q2 of this year when the Private Residence Programme will become fully active. We look forward to industry events such as the Fractional Summits in London, USA and UAE throughout the year and hope we can achieve further acclaim through competing with other top luxury fractional awards at the various property awards to be held during the year,” she adds.
Monaghan is optimisitic about future prospects for fractional real estate: “The economic environment of today has made people think long and hard about investing large sums of money in a property they may only use for six weeks a year. Second home owners are more concerned with matching capital with usage. They still want to have great family holidays and still aspire to have a home away from home which offers luxury and ease of stay, but do not want to be tied to that asset when they are not using it. Fractional ownership offers buyers an alternative – a share of their own asset, which as the economy improves has every chance of achieving capital appreciation that can be used for a certain amount of weeks a year. For these reasons, I believe the fractional ownership industry, particularly at the luxury end of the market, is set for real growth in 2011. In terms of Ireland, and growth in this industry here, I believe we will see a significant positive impact on tourism and second home sales in 2011. Weather patterns in Ireland and the UK appear to have shifted to offering very definite seasons, as shown by the wonderful summer we experienced last year and the levels of snow fall in 2010 and 2011 so far. Add to this the freak occurrence of the Ash Cloud in May last year, and I believe that more people are already looking for holidays closer to home.”
Bob Phillips, Ritz-Carlton Destination Club
Bob Phillips is vice president, business development at The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club. In this role he collaborates with all brand disciplines to deliver services to the nearly 3,000 members of the club and has operating responsibility for the Member Services organization. He joined Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) as director of product development to focus on strategic planning, and marketing and sales initiatives. He later founded The Ritz-Carlton Club brand where he directed the development and launch of this industry-leading, private residence club. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the MVCI business unit where he led the growth of The Ritz-Carlton Club business since its inception.
Prior to his service with MVCI, he was a member of the Disney Vacation Club business development team and transitioned to its executive leadership team. There he assisted in the launch of the Disney vacation ownership products in Orlando and Vero Beach, Fla. He implemented and led the groups responsible for accounting, consumer finance and condominium association management.
Phillips says: “2010 was a year of innovation for The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club. In addition to delivering our 10th club location in Vail, Colorado, we launched new membership options for new and existing members, including the first value for value exchange platform in the luxury segment. We also were very pleased to form an alliance with the Abercrombie & Kent Residence Club as the first affiliate of our Lion & Crown Exchange program. And to top it off, we introduced the new Ritz-Carlton Rewards program to our members this fall.”
Speaking to Fractional Life earlier this year, Phillips emphasized the importnace of listening to the membership's wishes when planning the future direction of the company. “For several years we've been thinking about how we can grow and expand The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, and we've transformed our membership offering quite significantly. Much of what we've done has been based on our members' feedback about where they would like to see us going. The response to the Lion & Crown Exchange program has been very positive and we plan to add more affiliates as we find the right opportunities.”
Fred Reid, Flexjet
Fred Reid is president of fractional jet operator Flexjet. During his career of more than 25 years in the aviation industry, he has earned an international reputation as a leader who has grown and strengthened businesses, with particular focus on customer service, brand-building and complex global operations. His executive management background includes experience at four of the world's major airlines, most recently as chief executive officer of Virgin America. He has also served as president of Delta Airlines, lead the creation of the airline's low-fare "Song"- branded airline and was the first US national to lead a major international airline when he was president and chief operating officer of Lufthansa German Airlines.
Reid says: “For 2010, we were gratified that Flexjet returned to profitability after the downturn in 2009. We started the year with the integration of Bombardier Skyjet, a charter brokerage services company, under the Flexjet name – and a subsequent rebranding effort – which put us in the position of being the only provider in the market to offer a truly comprehensive set of business aviation solutions. We also introduced at least four new products, signed and marketed a first-ever international alliance between a major international airline and a North American fractional provider and created a powerful alliance with Europe's premier charter provider VistaJet. We are also pleased to have become the only fractional provider certified by the Air Charter Safety Foundation.”
And 2011 looks set to be another year of innovation. Reid says: “This year we will have a continued focus on providing flawless service in every way possible, a hallmark of Flexjet’s brand proposition. We also anticipate introducing new and highly customizable product offerings for ever-increasing market segments, from the occasional charter aircraft user to the whole jet aircraft owner whose aircraft are maintained and serviced by Flexjet. We are also looking forward to a speedy rollout of onboard, high-speed internet service on all of our Challenger aircraft and a possible upgrade of our aircraft interiors. We will also welcome at least two new Challenger 300 aircraft to our fleet, in addition to the one we just accepted last month.”
“In 2011 we expect to see a continued – although slow and steady – recovery of the market for fractional ownership and jet card sales, building on the modest but distinctly growing rate of new demand in 2010. As halting as economic recovery has been, there are many more good signs than bad ones,” adds Reid.
Sarah Rezak, Resak Resort Consulting
Sarah Rezak is one of the new breed of fractional ownership consultants, bringing fresh ideas and energy to the sector. A former senior consultant with Ragatz Associates, her work includes consumer market research, feasibility analyses, creation of use plans, and/or facilitation of a client’s entry into the fractional business. She also works with various partners to launch marketing and sales efforts and successfully monitor them from the outset.
She says: “During 2010, Rezak Resort Consulting was pleased to consult with investors and developers of several potential fractional conversions in the US and Mexico. We were involved with the launch of the first Fractional Summit USA in Miami, which drew a great crowd and generated lots of new opportunities for us. We also actively continued our business development activities for LaTour Hotels and Resorts, which added five new properties to their management portfolio in 2010. In 2011, we continue to expect conversion and repositioned fractional projects driving our business and most of the new activity in the industry. Additionally, stay tuned for us to announce an exciting new fractional industry research effort for 2011 within the next few months.”
Rezak says that ensuring consumers feel they are getting value for money will be key in 2011. “Value-engineering – both the physical product and the experience will be vital,” she says. “Perceived 'reasonable' HOA dues are more important than ever. PRC consumers continue to have bragging rights for the 'smart purchase' of fractional rather than whole ownership, but today, more than ever, owners complain about high maintenance fees. The industry continues to be burdened with credit market challenges. I believe sales in 2011 will be largely supported by consumer paper held by sellers. We also expect to continue to see high owner usage and trading of their fractional properties, rather than vacationing in new places where accommodations are not already paid for.”
Steven Santo, Avantair
Steven Santo has served as chief executive officer, president and a director of fractional jet and flight card operator Avantair since its inception in June 2003. Avantair was founded as the exclusive fractional provider of the Piaggio Avanti aircraft and in February 2006, became the only publicly traded stand-alone fractional operator in the industry. Santo is a licensed, commercially-rated pilot who has been flying for 15 years. Before entering the aviation sector Santo practiced as a lawyer, from 1992 to 1995 as an assistant district attorney in New York working in the office’s major crimes unit; and then from 1995 as an attorney in private practice, concluding his law practice in 2001 as a name partner at the firm of Fields, Silver & Santo.
The highlights of 2010 for me have been growing the company, adding key senior management (including the appointment of former NetJets executive vice president John Colucci, chairman Robert J. Lepofsky and new board members) and improving systems by adding new technology,” says Santo. Avantair was the first company to deploy Jeppesen's new “eChart Viewer” digital navigation solution for business.
“In the coming year we intend to continue adding programs by listening to our owners and meeting their needs; and carrying forward our growth plan for the company,” he adds.
Santo predicts that the fractional aviation sector will witness steady growth over the next 12 months, specifically with more people buying fractional ownership shares as opposed to jet cards cards and chartering, and is confident that a growing number of people will realize the benefits of becoming an Avantair customer.
Chirag Shah, écurie25
Chirag is the ceo of UK-based supercar club écurie25, which offers its members access to a fleet of top-of-the-range dream machines such as the Ferrari 458. His goal is to expand the business internationally – he says: “Professional highlights for me in 2010 focused around taking the supercar club experience ‘beyond the UK roads’ – I concentrated the business on providing opportunities whereby members could find ways to integrate driving these amazingly powerful supercars into their lives rather than simply joy-riding or showing off in them. We organised events that combined socialising and even improving driving techniques with the fun of the supercars. In this vein, launching é25 Motorsport was probably the highlight of the year professionally, and the continued expansion of our rally programme was also a great achievement.”
“For 2011, I plan to capitalise on some of the international branding work of last year and take é25 to the international stage. Two overseas branches are already in the planning stages and hopefully there will be a couple more before the year is out,” adds Shah.
He is in no doubt about the continuing forward momentum of the fractional sector. “I think in 2011 we will see a 'Perfect Storm' in the supercar sector. Banks remain unwilling to finance the purchase of exotic cars, there is enormous pressure on C-level executives and bankers to behave more modestly in their consumption patterns, and of course swingeing taxes make outright purchase even more unaffordable – the fractional option is no longer the smart choice, it has become the only choice. And all this at a time when there’s never been so many new models being launched in the supercar sector. There is no other way to enjoy the variety of products in the market at this point in time. The clubs that have survived the recessionary years will enjoy significant growth,” he says.