Hard Truths Will Set You Free

Lexi Tucker
Posted on February 19, 2018

Ronn Torossian, CEO and founder of public relations firm 5WPR and the CMO for JetSmarter

Ronn Torossian, CEO and founder of public relations firm 5WPR and the CMO for JetSmarter

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J — Perhaps the most enlightening (and controversial) session at LCT East 2017 was the onstage interview with Ronn Torossian, CEO and founder of public relations firm 5WPR and the CMO for JetSmarter, the fastest growing private jet company in the world valued at more than $1 billion.

 LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson and CEO of BostonCoach / DavEl Scott Solombrino elicited some responses that weren’t easy for everyone in the audience to hear. But those who listened closely to Torossian likely gained insights into the mind of the industry’s core target demographic.

What’s The Difference?

Cost is not the deciding factor for choosing a TNC over a black car service, Torossian said. “I spend more on many things in my life. But there has to be a difference of quality of service.” He then gave the example of the Prudential Hotel in Chicago.

“It’s one of the greatest hotels in the country because they profile everything you do there. [JetSmarter] learned a lot from that hotel. If you go there once every three years, and you eat six buckets of nuts over drinks, the next time you walk in they’re going to give you six buckets of nuts.” This is the kind of service he is willing to pay for.

(L to R) LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson, JetSmarter CMO Ronn Torossian, and BostonCoach/ Dave El CEO Scott Solombrino talked about some hard truths for the industry.

(L to R) LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson, JetSmarter CMO Ronn Torossian, and BostonCoach/ Dave El CEO Scott Solombrino talked about some hard truths for the industry.

“I’ll pay a premium, and I don’t give a damn because I don’t want to worry about having to call downstairs to get the extra towels I like to have because I’m busy preparing to give a presentation,” Torossian said. “I have a million other problems to worry about. If that costs me an extra $250 a day, I don’t give a damn. But I’m not getting that with black cars,” he added. He agreed chauffeured vehicles often are newer and cleaner, but lack personalization.

We also live in an “instant generation,” which Torossian said puts the industry at a great disadvantage. Solombrino admitted, “We kind of missed our opportunity, but we have recovered because people got smarter and said, ‘we have to have a stable platform. We need the same technology. We need to see the map.’ We’re getting better at that. The gap is closing. But if a guy like you, who’s a chauffeured car user, is still not convinced, we have a lot more to learn.”

To regain appeal with a younger demographic, Torossian suggested marketing your company’s technology. “If the narrative is ‘we’re not your father’s black car service,’ that might have a bit of an impact,” he said.

Does Duty Of Care Really Matter?

After stating he puts his 12-year-old daughter in an Uber to get her to school and that he doesn’t see a difference between luxury transportation and TNCs except price, Torossian said he was unaware many chauffeured operations carry millions of dollars of insurance coverage.

“When you put your 12-year-old kid in an Uber and not in my car or my competitors’ cars, that’s horrifying to me because you’re not convinced,” Solombrino said. “I might think I’m better, but what does it matter what I think? What matters is what you think. You’re the customer. And that’s something we have to fix. We have a perception problem, folks.”

 Torossian said you have to convince potential clients you are a trustworthy corporation. “Who are you? Why should I trust you? That message, for me as a marketer and consumer, is one I haven’t heard. And if that’s the message you’re giving, ‘don’t put your kid in an Uber because it’s not safe,’ that scares the hell out of me. I trust I’m going to walk into McDonald’s and get the best French fries. I don’t know when I walk into a black car that you have insurance or you’re trustworthy; I don’t know that.”

Solombrino told Torossian in addition to heavy insurance coverage, chauffeurs are also drug tested. “How do I know that? Where have I heard you have insurance? Where have I heard you do drug testing? You can’t compete on price. On insurance and drug testing, you can. I just haven’t heard that narrative,” Torossian admitted.

“Uber is a great technology which works and serves a purpose. I don’t necessarily disagree with all this ‘they’re the worst!’ talk. I don’t think most of your wealthy consumers will disagree with you. I don’t know you need to bang that point home about how bad they are. I think they do good enough job on their own. I don’t know that the black car industry does enough to convey how good they are.”   

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Q: As a PR person, what would you do that we have not done to educate the public to help them understand the value we provide versus Uber?

A: Maybe you’d put a few people together to say, “Here are the brand names that matter.” Get me to trust a few brand names. Talking about who you are matters more than who they are. Forget them. Again, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree talking about how evil they are. I agree with you. You’re fighting the fight I don’t think needs to be fought. Talk about who you are and about your local businesses that have insurance. Are you drug testing? Are you someone I should trust as an executive who wants privacy? That’s what you should be talking about. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve read in a magazine about how great the black car experience is, and I want to be reading it.

Related Topics: Atlantic city, BostonCoach, Harrah's, industry education, keynote speakers, LCT-NLA Show East, Lyft, new jersey, public relations, Sara Eastwood-Richardson, Scott Solombrino, TNCs, Uber

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
Comments ( 2 )
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  • Anthony

     | about 2 years ago

    You have to love google..... wanting to find out more about this jet guy i found a great article !!!! But folks remember that uber jets failed because the owners of these 40 million dollar jets dont want your 400.00 dollars for a seat on their jet going back to their base FYI https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2017/3/28/15055046/jetsmarter-app-membership-cost-reviews-high-prices-lawsuits

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