EvoLux is launching the first helicopter online marketplace
EvoLux is gearing-up to launch the world’s first global marketplace for regional helicopter charter.
Founded by Ray Leavitt in 2007, EvoLux’s online booking platform allows helicopter travellers to search for available aircraft in their area and either book a charter flight directly from an operator, or use a ridesharing service to find other passengers interested in a particular charter flight.
The two reservation systems offered by EvoLux are branded as SkyLimo and SkyShare.
“SkyShare is social collaboration for private booking,” says Leavitt. “We think of it as fractional charter.”
A major innovation of EvoLux is its ability to search for nearby helicopters by GPS and book empty legs in a similar way to the ridesharing taxi service offered to the Uber smartphone app.
“Helicopters are currently charging wait time,” says Leavitt. “Our users will be able to reserve a helicopter based on where they are located. It makes it more affordable for the customer and allows the operator to make more money.”
Leavitt sees this technology as an example of EvoLux’s commitment to modernising the out-dated and overpriced helicopter charter market.
“Charter brokers really are ruining the industry,” he says. “Operators are quoting all day every day, but they are converting maybe 1-5 per cent of those quotes.”
“Rather than taking 30 minutes to send a quote back, our process does that in real time; it gets rid of all the in-between stuff.”
Booking a charter flight
After logging into EvoLux, users must first enter a departure location and intended destination, which can be a heliport, airport, helicopter-friendly hotel or excursion destination. Users then enter the preferred date and time for their trip and the number of passengers.
For a 28-minute charter flight from Boca Raton in Palm Beach, Florida, to Palm Beach International Raceway, the screen shows the option to ‘Reserve Now’ for $1,001 or book a single seat using SkyShare, with prices starting at $342.
When selecting an aircraft, users can select from four classes, based on price: Ecolux, Delux, Astrolux and Ulta-Lux.
“The old weight classes don’t tell you anything,” says Leavitt.
Sharing a helicopter
Adding passengers to SkyShare brings the price of each seat down, and users are able to set a target price that must be matched before the flight is able to take off.
Passengers are able to message other EvoLux users directly and use selective social media sharing to fill the seats as quickly as possible. Leavitt says groups that have already committed to the flight offline will be able to fill the helicopter quickly, but solo passengers “may want to plan a couple of weeks ahead” – at least while EvoLux is still in its infancy.
“Eventually, you will be able to book in a couple of minutes depending on whether it is a hot route,” says Leavitt.
Free sign-up for operators
Helicopter operators can sign up to EvoLux for free, but must offer their charter flights at a wholesale rate, allowing EvoLux to turn a profit.
“All the operators are loving the product, but I do not want to charge them for it,” says Leavitt.
The 22 operators that are currently on the system have the ability to edit their profiles – which is viewable to users – adding a description, embedding a video if they wish and displaying a quality rating if, for example, they are part of Wyvern Consulting’s Wingman Operator Network.
Operators can easily add the helicopters in their fleet and the ‘vertiport’ that they operate from.
Investment needed for take-off
Around 50 helicopters have been added to the EvoLux marketplace so far and the company is already in operation in New York and South Florida.
Leavitt is now looking for further investment from the helicopter community in order to expand operations into Los Angeles and San Francisco, São Paulo, Monaco and the UK, as well as secondary markets where operators have already expressed an interest in EvoLux, such as as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Ontario, Canada.
He also wants to add very light jets and turboprops to the system and, eventually, large and mid-size jets as more members sign up.
EvoLux already has $250,000 in the bank after winning Sikorsky’s Global Entrepreneurial Challenge. It has also formed strategic partnerships with BMW and Rolls-Royce, where it needs to hit certain milestones to raise money.
Last week, it arranged a four-hour exclusive helicopter excursion to Palm Beach International Raceway as part of a promotional event organised by Rolls-Royce.