[caption id="attachment_22262" align="alignnone" width="640"]
Serena Hawkins Yacht Club Photo: Kaidi Photography[/caption]
Q&A with Serena Hawkins, Commercial Director VIP Market, Avinco
ML: Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Monaco in 2012?
Monaco is undeniably an ideal base if you work in the luxury market, which both my husband and I happen to do. The weather is also significantly better than back home in the UK, though I do travel back and forth regularly for my job.
ML: You are currently Commercial Director VIP Market at Avinco Helicopters. Tell us about the company and also the competitiveness of the helicopter market.
Avinco is one of the largest helicopter sales specialist and has been based in Monaco since 2008, although it also has offices in New York, Dublin and Singapore, and a fully international team of experts to advise its customers worldwide.
As commercial Director at Avinco Private, I take care of the purchase and sales of corporate and VIP aircraft – primarily helicopters.
This is a very competitive market on a global scale, but with the backing and reputation of Avinco and our worldwide network it has proven a strong segment for us.
Log into your Premium account to read the full article.
[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type="show" ihc_mb_who="reg" ihc_mb_template="" ]
ML: Who is Avinco’s market?
Avinco caters for all types of customers, a large portion of which are in the commercial and public markets, which include emergency services, offshore Oil & Gas operations, utility operations, aerial filming, firefighting, police.. and of course, corporate and VIP owners.
ML: Why would someone choose to buy a pre-owned aircraft versus new?
There are significant advantages to buying pre-owned aircraft. First and foremost, buyers avoid lengthy lead-times from manufacturers, which can take up to several years. There is also clear added value for money spent in purchasing a pre-owned aircraft. The aircraft can also be customised to the new owner’s tastes and requirements.
Avinco can also act as a consultant and assist with buying a new aircraft by establishing an ownership strategy and selecting the aircraft best suited to each customer’s needs and negotiating the best possible deal on the buyer’s behalf.
ML: On the aviation side, what is the profile of a client who would benefit from owning an aircraft instead of chartering?
A typical client profile for us would be a business executive whose time is limited and may need to attend important meetings at the drop of a hat. Having your own helicopter on call gives you this flexibility and spontaneity, and enables you, as an owner, to use your time efficiently.
[caption id="attachment_22261" align="alignnone" width="640"]
ML: Does Avinco provide helicopters suitable for yachts? It can’t be as simple, as not any helicopter can fly to any yacht so what should you take into consideration?
Yes we do, and you are correct, there are many criteria for us to consider with our customers before proposing a suitable helicopter for their yacht. Size and weight are obviously critical on a yacht. The flight range is important depending on the distance one might want to travel to and from the boat. And, last but not least, equipment requirements, storage and passenger capacity may vary greatly from one owner to the next depending on their lifestyle.
ML: What role does Avinco play in the Monaco Yacht Show?
This is an ideal opportunity to catch up with people we work with in the luxury industry, such as yachting specialists and shipyards with whom we collaborate during the yacht purchase and design process. Many of our VIP clients attend the Monaco Yacht Show. Some will pick this time to discuss their intention to sell and replace their helicopter. We are routinely involved in both the sale and acquisition process for our customers.
We were actually meant to have an AW109 on show on a yacht but as it happens we are in the process of finalising its sale!
ML: You have worked within the luxury market for a number of years. What is the key to customer service?
The key to keeping our customers happy is to listen to what they want to buy, how they intend to use their aircraft, get to know their lifestyle and sell them the aircraft they need.
I always tell my customers there are five golden rules when buying a helicopter:
1. Identify your usage – lifestyle, frequency, passengers, destinations.
2. Don’t be geographically limited in your search. Thanks to our network we can find the right helicopter anywhere in the world and assist in all aspects of its delivery.
3. Be open-minded about your choice of aircraft model. Experts like Avinco can introduce you to a large scope of helicopters across all makes, and objectively advise you in your selection according to your requirements.
4. Always take on highly qualified experts to carry out technical inspections on your behalf.
5. Call Avinco, of course.
ML: What makes Monaco a strategic location for luxury marketing?
Though Monaco is renowned for its high-profile residents and visitors, we do not limit our focus to the Principality. We have customers across the world through our various offices, and attend strategic high-end events worldwide.
ML: For those who have never been in a helicopter, what is something we’d be surprised to learn about taking a ride on board?
People who have flown in small airplanes often remark on how much more stable and smooth a helicopter ride feels. I personally love how much more visibility I have of the scenic views, particularly when I fly along the Riviera coastline.
Article first published September 29, 2017.