The mission of the business will be to provide quality gourmet food and utmost convenience and choice to traveling airline passengers. While giving complete control to the airline passenger by allowing them to choose their meal and determine the cost without the inconvenience and time crunch inherent in airport food establishments or scarce in-flight food offerings.
The management team will consists of several food service industry specialists and two travel professionals. Initially the market will be limited to one large airport. The establishment will lease a kitchen space close to the Chicago International Airport and begin serving pre-ordered meals to airline passengers with flights originating from this airport with the intention of growth producing opportunities to expand to other origin locations, beginning with New York International Airport and then establishing a west coast market, in Los Angeles and a central market, in Denver.
The menu offerings will include at least ten creative gourmet dishes for a customer to choose from. Encompassing a group of Italian Country/Bistro style food selections with occasional special offerings that have a foreign flare to play off the traveling focus of the business. The food will be presented in an appetizing display and attempts will be made to ensure the time of delivery be as quick as possible to ensure quality and freshness. The menu will offer both cold and hot menu choices and the demand will be met in a restaurant style kitchen with orders being prepared just as they would be for a customer who was on sight in a dining room.
Airlines have been looking for a way to cut costs while still providing quality services for several years but the nine eleven economy downturn has left many with limited options for change and even more limited budgets to make changes. Imagine as a traveling business professional or a relaxed pleasure traveler, being able to satisfy a discriminating pallet while sitting comfortably in an airline seat, knowing that there will be no more frantic steps until the next connecting flight.
Airlines have been privatizing some services for years in an attempt to reclaim the major part of the ticket price for future growth and operations, yet the airlines have continued to pay for the privatized services of catering companies. If a flight crew could offer a quality product that has been preordered and paid for by the guess, even as early as when they made their ticket purchase the only cost would be associated with the already captive time it would take for the crew to deliver a few prepared and specialized trays of great food. Time demand for food service would be greatly reduced and flight crews would have the opportunity to meet all the passengers needs. The post- nine eleven traveling economy would quickly absorb the change and increased airline profit potential would be met by privatizing an already time demanding and substandard service that could be better performed by an outside agency.
The business will be primarily ecentered as all sales will take place on a central web site that will be heavily advertised in print adds throughout the airport terminal and will be linked from every major travel website that sells tickets to airlines being provided the service. The initial offering may be a single airline partner, possibly one who does not already serve full meals in-flight. Once the establishment of a market occurs it will then become easier to partner with other airlines wishing to offer the service to customers.
The company domain name will be www.airgourmet.com, which is currently an available domain name waiting for a business opportunity. The legal from of the business will be a general partnership consisting of five partners. Each partner will invest personal funds of one hundred thousand dollars and will contribute their particular business expertise.
The company history is based on an idea that will be furthered through the knowledge and experience of the partners and is currently in start-up phase. The present partners offer operating histories of existing organizations that include a gourmet catering company, an successful established brick and mortar restaurant, a travel website, and two successful non-related business ventures. Company knowledge will be an asset to the framework of a new development business.
The major goal of the company currently is the establishment of a location and the further development of partnering organizations willing to utilize the services of the organization. There are communications planned with Jet-blue Airlines, as the existing company does not currently offer a food plan to their flying population and will therefore not be replacing an existing competing service. When a business cooperation plan is established between this airline other airline will then be offered a chance to utilize the services and a pitch will be made to offer services to an airline that wishes to either dissolve the food offerings that exist and/or add to them through our services.
To provide quality gourmet food and utmost convenience and choice to traveling airline passengers, while giving complete control to the airline passenger by allowing them to choose their meal and determine the cost without the inconvenience and time crunch inherent in airport food establishments or scarce in-flight food offerings.
The company vision is to establish a product that will fully replace the standard food offering system to all the major airlines. The expansion into other markets will be slated for quarterly growth and development. Future success requires rapid expansion, as the industry will soon pick up the trend if it proves successful. Through the broadening of the locations of service quarterly AirGourmet will be able to offer services to every major airline and airport/region within 5 years. Through a possible public offering at one year, the company may promise individual investors growth potential of investment that will be met in the short-term and an annual growth rate of at least one hundred percent. The services provided will assist both passenger and company to meet the goal of the provision of quality and choice through a streamlined specialized and privatized organization.
Products and Services:
Airlines have been looking for a way to cut costs and provide a more appetizing and appealing food product and have up to this point just simply excluded the meal portion of their flight based on time of flight and economy. If an airline were offered tarmac service catering that was simply chosen and purchased by the consumer elsewhere, their ability to focus on a simple delivery of 10-15 trays of high quality food would reduce their time and expense considerably and increase customer satisfaction.
Passengers who wished not to utilize the service would not be bothered with having to deal with food while in-flight and flight crews could focus more time on all the passengers because their time demand for food service would be greatly reduced. Passengers who choose to benefit from the service will be offered a selection of their own choosing in the convenience of their seat often times reducing the time they need to spend in the airport and increasing the time they have in comfort, knowing there will be no more running until landing. The post- nine eleven traveling economy would absorb the change and increase airline profit potential by privatizing an already time demanding and substandard service that could be better performed by an outside agency.
Prior to this time airlines have catered food to passengers through a similar system with some very important differences. In the past the airline absorbed the cost of the service in the price of the ticket and served food to every passenger, notoriously substandard food according to many consumers. The danger of this has proven to be that the anonymity of the service provided and the quantity of the individual meals provided by the service reduced the quality to the passenger and increases the stress and demands on flight crews. The established catering system gave the same food to each individual with the only choices being those for special dietary needs, be they by choice or for health reasons. The customer was unhappy and the flight crew was unhappy.
The product and service are unique in that the customer has a choice that will ensure quality and reduce stress. The existing systems offer litter or no choice and substandard food that is often prepared hours before the time it is needed and resembles mass-produced hospital style food. Though many companies have made attempts to increase the desirability of their product the reality may be that only the names of the product have changed and the product itself is still a substandard, dry, four ounce chicken breast with an accompaniment of sticky mashed potatoes and a spongy frozen vegetable medley. Consumer tastes have grown beyond this offering and no longer wish to be offered something that they eat out of pure necessity and/or simply because it is placed within their two foot by three foot personal cubicle.
On the other hand, AirGourmet would provide meals served with both an appetizing name, not unlike those they see in gourmet restaurants and a quality product, not unlike those they consume in a leisure setting. AirGourmet would provide fresh entrees that would rival those served in some of the best restaurants in the nation and would be prepared precisely to the desired specifications of the client no greater than a half hour before the departure of the passenger’s flight.
The order having been received weeks before it needed to be filled, the restaurant style kitchen would be provided the opportunity to plan food costs and determine future needs and outcomes weeks before they would need to be addressed. With even a few hours notice a meal could be prepared with ingredients that did not come from a plastic bag or a can. The popularity of one menu item could be assessed and just as in a busy restaurant kitchen ingredients could be stocked fresh daily to meet the needs of last minute orders.
The need for this type of service has been evident for many years as the growth of the airline industry was initially exponential and services were never put into play that could keep up with increasing and changing demands. The services that are currently provided are costly and outdated and rarely leave the consumer or the provider satisfied.
The industry is ripe for a needed change and consumers are demanding that their needs be met through choice and discrimination especially in the wake of their feelings of discomfort following the terrorism threat.
Passengers need something to look forward to and to focus positive attention on while they are traveling by air.
A four-ounce dry chicken breast, called by a fancy name is just not enough for the discriminating high-class restaurant going public.
Market and Marketing Strategy:
The target market of the company is the flying public. Individuals who are dependant on air transportation for its convenience and time saving are always looking for ways to make the process even more conducive to their needs. The business professional is often offered a per day reimbursement from their employer to help with travel expenses such as food and cab fare, yet up to this point the ability of the fast moving professional to utilize these services has been limited. The traveling tourist will also be a member of the target market as they are often very aware of the time and financial budget required to travel, more aware than they would be on a day-to-day basis. These two subsets of the flying population often depart from the same location repeatedly and will therefore potentially be repeat customers.
The flying public has not developed in a vacuum and their needs are as discriminating as they are when they are grounded. Yet, the airlines are reducing the number of services offered to them and the only way to bolster both a private business and the airline industry itself is to privatize and diversify services to meet the higher standards of a possibly unsettled public. The growth rate of the flying public is relatively fixed but there may be a possible return of some customers to the services when the international and domestic climates return to a calmer state. If airlines do not have changes in the works when these customers return to the services they may risk further loss of revenue.
The flying public often access information and details about plans and services through the World Wide Web gateway, as doing this sort of business in the airport has become inefficient and very complicated. It is much easier to access services via phone or in the comfort of their office or computer room at home than it is to pay seven to ten dollars and walk two miles to an airport terminal to either make a ticket purchase or finalize flight times. Due to the fact that the market has already focused extensively on the electronic services offered by the web consumers are now used to using these portals to gain access to other travel services. Through a web partnership with the airline or airlines wishing to offer the AirGourmet service and other non-airline affiliated travel sights AirGourmet will be able to creatively offer their unique product to consumers. Additionally, the growth rate of requests for offerings may also be accessed through the existing request and comment systems of these sights. So, consumers happy with the service or interested in trying it out might request access through the airlines themselves. Due to the uniqueness of the product and current public interest in air travel changes AirGourmet may also initially receive some recognition form the national media and/or local media.
Marketing to the existing customer will be geared toward gaining repeat business. All early customers, those using the service in the first six months of operation in each region will receive a transferable e-coupon code with their meal good for a reduced cost meal in the future. After the first six months all new and all corporate customers will receive such a coupon. Part of the customer profile on the website will include questions about their travel needs, such as frequency of travel, travel for business or leisure and how the consumer reached the website to initiate an order.
Other promotional tactics will include an airport kiosk that will provide the consumer, flying on a partner airline the opportunity to order an in-flight meal up to an hour before departure time. The kiosk will also offer information to first time consumers about the services and the airlines that offer them through AirGourmet. The in-flight magazines on partner airlines will advertise the service and the consumer will see print adds and flyers in the airport that will advertise the services and give the access website. Direct marketing to companies and agencies that often require travel of employees will also be done through the human resources or travel affairs divisions of the company.
AirGourmet will also advertise in partnership with travel agencies, hotels and rental car services that are frequently accessed through air travel services. Marketing opportunities are many and will remain fluid through the development and implementation stages. The website itself will offer pictures of the product as well as provide links to all the partnering organizations. Due to the limitation of the original offering, that being located only in one airport with departing flights of over one hour with one airline the major part of the initial marketing phase will be word of mouth as well as in-flight examples of product. The airline will have a level of discretion that will help them assess the marketing strategies that they will personally employ in the days or months prior to the initial offering of services.
Each individual establishment of production will offer a restaurant style kitchen with a governing chef who will oversee the production flow and manage and educate individual staff members.
The initial kitchen will also serve as a school for post-graduate chefs and as the main training center for future staff of other locations. A partnership with The Chicago School of Culinary Arts may be researched and promoted.
Through the skills and expertise of the partner with the culinary arts degree and the partner who boasts a culinary arts and restaurant management degree many decisions about operations will be decided. Employment will be based on demand and will increase with the expansion of services.
The kitchen itself will have to employ bondable airport staff who are able and willing to undergo all local and federal trainings and requirements for employment on airport property and the systems will have rigorous checks and balances to make sure that this remains the case. The establishment will ask for courtesy inspections by federal and local agencies of both the airport and the department of food safety in the region.
The management will also plan surprise inspections for the staff both within the agency and with officials.
Product delivery will be based on preorders and will occur onsite of the aircraft during the cleaning stage of the preflight process and after the flight check, ensuring that the flight will be as close to on time as is possible for proper delivery of quality. Staff will explore as part of the development process ways to ensure the desired temperature and quality of the product in creative and non-institutional containers that will also provide an attractive and professional background for the food. Flight crews will be given the duty of delivering the product to the customers and the product will be clearly labeled by customer name and seat location.
Product cost will be comparable to any gourmet restaurant and careful attention to food costs will be given while making menu plans and determining both fixed and special offerings. Seasonal and fresh meat and produce will be the goal of the buying staff, which will consist of oversight by both a business administrator and a culinary professional.
Cost will be reflected in the price of the menu item served, with additional options of up-sale, like dessert being offered at an additional cost.
The menu items will rang in cost from between twenty and forty dollars based on food costs and availability. Beverages may be complementary to all the passengers as a request in partnership may be made with the airline for the business to also provide the beverage service for the flight at a discount to the airline. The goal of the product will be kept high and will be met by the individual consumer having the personal control to complain and either receive compensation for the previous meal or a complementary meal in the future. As personal choice and control, by the consumer being a major part of the mission and vision of the business this feature may be a unspoken selling point for the services.
The required margin of profits must ensure fluid operations and expansion of the Chicago location as well as to ensure the ability of the organization to expand into new markets according to the quarterly schedule. The foothold of the organization must be felt very soon in the industry trend. Investors should expect substantial return on their investment within two years of public offering slated for one year from the opening of service provision. The core investors should expect some return on investment with the initial public offering.
The complexity of the operations will increase with the expansion of services to other locations but the Chicago sight will act as the guideline and training ground for the other locations. The partnership will become regional as the expertise of each member of the investor core will invest a block of time to each new adventure. The complexity of the actual food operations will be similar to any catering and/or high-productivity gourmet restaurant with the advantage of the provisional location of service delivery already existing in the customer’s airline seat.
The legal from of the business will be a general partnership consisting of five partners. Each partner will invest personal funds of one hundred thousand dollars and will contribute their particular business expertise. The management team consists of a varied and experienced team. Joseph Block has a degree in Culinary Arts and has managed and owned three successful restaurant businesses over the last ten years and will act as executive chef. Benjamin Liss holds a degree in Restaurant Management and has managed and owned two successful catering businesses over the last fifteen years. Juan Pablo Viego has a Masters in Business Administration and has managed several businesses in and out of the food service industry over the last 10 years.
Jeremy Blackwell has and acted as a management professional in a CPA firm for the last five years. Hiring additions will be based on the proposed initial offerings and on the demand associated with production.
The five initial members will act as the Board of Directors and the governing board of the organization, with inclusion of three other members of the kitchen and delivery management team. Corporate Legal firm of Shaheen, Novoselsky, Staat & Filipowski PC (Suite 2900
20 N. Wacker Dr. Chicago, IL 60606-3101) will be retained for consulting and the CPA firm of Alvino & Associates, Ltd. (5820 N. Broadway St. Chicago, Il 60660) will act as the governing accounting consultants through the development process. The Chicago Small Business Association has also been a contributing influence over the development of the preliminary organization and will assist in the acquisition of loans and other funding.
Projected Pro Forma Cash Flow Statement for individual initial venture
Terms of years
150, 000 total
Food Costs 8,000
The initial partnership investment of five hundred thousand dollars will act as both seed money and matching funds for corporate lending. It will in part cover the initial set-up costs and operating funds for the first quarter of operations. An itemized per item set up cost analysis is available upon request. The total cost of operations including set-up and delivery of service for the first year of operations is approximately one million dollars. The remaining funding will be acquired through lenders. The profit base of the business will be expected to produce a break even point at two years but the operations budget of the business will be drawn from sales revenue by the end of one year and from that point forward.
Exit strategy for any or all investors will be based on one hundred percent return on initial investment based on twenty five percent capital return and an seventy percent stock option to meet or exceed initial cash investment and to occur only after the initial stock offering set for one year from beginning of service.
Viability of meeting these goals is high based on initial investment and match funding from lenders. The Market is ripe for a change and the flying public will welcome the opportunity to continue to develop their control and comfort in an industry that has been challenged by recent events yet has proven integral to societal needs. The unique distinction of the offered product as well as the drive and vision of the assembled organization will also assist the venture in development. The management team has varied and specific experience to tackle the tasks already at hand as well as the many to follow.
Research and development of the programs and services to be provided by the company will continue as meetings are planned with both airlines and existing catering providers for any assistance we can offer one another in the progression of the transition needed in the travel industry. Partnerships with web-based travel offerings and travel agencies will continue and legal issues of doing business in this industry will be addressed with these organizations as well as with federal and local agencies governing regulations of the travel industry.
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