Ever wanted to see more of the world but been put off by the expense of the flights? Well, fear not, Jacks Flight Club is here with the solution. Jack’s Flight Club is a UK email subscription newsletter notifying subscribers of really cheap flights and airline mistake fares, plus tips on how to book them. Started by wanderlust Jack Sheldon in September 2016 Jack’s Flight Club is projected to hit 200,000 subscribers by the end of September 2017. Jack’s Flight Club is ideal for travellers who are hungry to see more of the world, but also enjoy getting a bargain. We spoke to its founder to find out more about the company, their phenomenal growth to date, and what the future holds.
Can you give us an overview of Flight Club?
Jack’s Flight Club is a freemium newsletter that sends out cheap flight alert emails to over 200,000 travellers in the UK & Ireland. Our flight searching team and I spend most of our time each day scouring the web for error fares and especially cheap flight deals from airports all over the UK & Ireland to international destinations across the globe, and when we find something jaw-droppingly cheap, we send out an email alert to let our subscribers know how to find and book the deal before it disappears. We’re a year old now and I believe we’re the largest cheap flights club there is in the UK!
What is your personal background? What prompted you to start the company?
My formal educational background was actually in geoscience – probably because I never really saw myself as working from an office! That said, I did give the corporate life a go for a while. After university I tried to find the first job I could that would enable me to see world. I was lucky enough to make the move to London early on – lucky for me, I landed in an ideal hub for world travel. Prior to founding Jack’s Flight Club, I spent most of my career in marketing and business development, but found myself spending a disproportionate amount of time looking for my next flight to some far-off destination, rather than concentrating on what I was starting to think of as merely my day-job.
If I had to name one thing that really pushed me to start Jack’s Flight Club, I’d say it was that I found it nearly impossible to find a truly unbiased voice in the airfare industry. I saw the industry taking advantage of myself and a lot of other fellow British travellers. I was frustrated and thought that if I couldn’t find a reliable source making it easier for everyday people, like myself, to get useful, to-the-point cheap flight advice and thus be able to travel more often, why not become that source myself? I tried to aim for something different – a transparent voice that provides friendly advisory to fellow travellers rather than a company that takes commissions or referral fees from customer’s bookings. I wanted to help revolutionise the way we travel – more savings on flights, more destinations, more money for the actual holiday!
How has the company grown from inception to now?
Incredibly quickly – much more so than I ever expected, if I’m being completely honest. I launched the website as a free newsletter and sent out my first cheap flight deal one year ago (September 2016) to people who were mostly my mates. They’d signed up straight away as they knew the sort of deals I’ve unearthed in the past. Word started to spread fairly quickly though and the mailing list grew to around 3,000 members within in the first few weeks. I then ran into some luck and had a bit of a breakthrough when a post of mine on Reddit went a viral and made the front page in November 2016. Virtually overnight, we grew to 40,000 members! Since then, it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster – we’ve been growing at an incredible rate of nearly 1,000 new members daily – mostly via word of mouth and also thanks to some limited media coverage.
How have you monitized?
After my mailing list went from a few thousand members to tens of thousands, what began as a tiny operation started to cost me quite a bit, now that I was sending daily emails to such a large amount of people. I didn’t know exactly how I could monetise at first as I didn’t want to rely on affiliate links and referral commission – that would have undoubtedly encouraged me to send subscribers to websites that I knew would drive the most revenue rather than finding the best deals and offering unbiased recommendations – it would’ve been contradictory to why I started Jack’s Flight Club in the first place.
So, I followed my gut and I went with the freemium model, which I felt would still provide value to free users, but generates revenue via an annual fee from paying subscribers who travel more often and are therefore most likely to benefit most from receiving more cheap flight deal alerts. We monetised in February 2017, which allowed us to hire a couple more flight ‘hackers’ to keep pushing our vision forward.
What does the future hold for the company?
I think we still have a lot of opportunity to further our growth and development within the UK & Ireland, but we’re also looking at the possibility of expanding beyond this market once we have our model just right. In the more distant future, there are a quite a few options we’re considering, such as moving into more bespoke flight search space – a request we get from many Jack’s Flight Club members.
Will you be looking for funding?
So far, we’ve been completely self-funded, but it’s a possibility. We’ve been lucky enough to maintain our operations with incoming revenue and strong growth has allowed us to keep ownership within our small team.