Some brands focus their efforts on offering a luxury product or service. Other brands work hard to provide luxury customer experiences. Imagine if a brand took a luxury product or service, doubled their efforts to ensure a luxury customer experience, and at the same time revolutionized an industry thereby making a luxury lifestyle available to a broad, diverse consumer population.
Wheels Up, a revolutionary membership-based private aviation company, has made this type of imaginary brand a reality. By significantly reducing the upfront costs of flying privately, while providing unparalleled flexibility, service and safety, Wheels Up provides a truly unique luxury experience for its broad range of members.
This month we shine our Thought Leader Spotlight on the Chief Strategy Officer of Wheels Up, Miles Rogers, for a closer look at how this brand continues to reach new heights.
Do you have a history of traveling, either personal or professional, that motivated your entry into the private aviation industry?
My father was an attorney for the International Olympic Committee. Growing up I was always fascinated by the logistics to get into all of the different Olympic cities.
What life experience(s) do you feel best prepared you for a leadership position?
Being a student athlete is great preparation for a leadership position. I was lucky enough to play college tennis and I took leadership roles within the student athlete advisory committee staring my freshman year.
Who had the biggest impact on you throughout your professional development?
I have had the chance to work with our founder and CEO, Kenny Dichter since 2004. He is a brand and marketing genius but most importantly I have witnessed the way he treats his employees and creates a “family” culture.
Wayne Gretzky was my first client in private aviation. Just the opportunity to be around and work with Wayne has made a tremendous impact on me. The respect he shows to everyone, the way he interacts with others, and the way he always thinks about the next steps in all situations are great life lessons.
How would you describe the Wheels Up experience to someone who is only familiar with the traditional, commercial airline experience?
Imagine waking up and deciding you would like to go on vacation and being able to dictate the time you would like to go, the passengers on the plane with you, the meal you will eat, and when you would like to come home.
Wheels Up offers an opportunity to make your travel enjoyable. We give you back the time spent traveling to and from large commercial airports, waiting through delays, and working around an inconvenient travel schedule.
We give you back the time you want most with those that you care about whether that is a family vacation together or a flight that takes off just after a meeting that gets you home for dinner with the family.
Your website (www.wheelsup.com) mentions “social aviation,” which is presented as a ride-sharing option. Do you see this as an upcoming industry trend or an offer that will remain unique for Wheels Up Members?
We expect the shared economy to remain a part of private aviation and grow. As more and more individuals look for a more convenient way to travel and the cost of our time becomes more important the opportunity to share flights and subsidize the cost of your travel will become more popular. As our technology surrounding the ability to share travel grows there will be more opportunity.
Wheels Up emphasizes its philanthropic efforts and has a unique way of supporting different causes. Can you share details about how philanthropy became a significant part of the Wheels Up brand identity? How did the “Color for a cause” idea come about?
Kenny and Marketing came up with this idea and it has been very successful. Through Wheels Up cares a King Air 350i aircraft is custom designed to represent an established cause and annually enters the fleet where it remains indefinitely as a flying symbol of each charity’s mission.
In February we unveiled the first-ever red Wheels Up King Air 350i in support of American Heart Month. The Red Plane will raise awareness for the cause and benefit the American Heart Association’s Life Is Why we Give fundraising campaign and SIMON’S Heart, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about and preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children.
September 2017, we unveiled the first ever teal Wheels Up King Air 350i in support of Ovarian Cancer Awareness. The Teal Plane will continue to raise awareness for the cause and the benefit of the Janet Burros Memorial Foundation, an organization that focuses on funding promising programs to help with early detection prevention and treatment of ovarian cancer.
October 2016, we unveiled the first ever pink Wheels Up King Air 350i in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. The Pink Plane will continue to raise awareness for the cause and benefit the Dublin Breast Center of the Tisch Cancer institute at Mount Sinai in New York City.
What is your favorite quote?
“Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
This is reflective of Wheels Up. We introduced a revolutionary business model that allows our members to enjoy the same benefits of full Ownership while paying as they fly at a disruptive price point on a new aircraft. We offer the ultimate in safety, consistency and certainty while offering more flexibility than any other private aviation solution available today. We will continue to lead in innovation and make private aviation accessible to millions.