Business of Flyboard – April Edition
Interview with Flyboard Malta
By Shawn Galiotto – Lake Erie Flyboard
Well folks it’s time for another installment of our series focusing on the business side of flyboarding. The response to last month’s feature was astronomical. I received emails from several of you out there in the Flyboard Nation and around the world. Of course I welcome any and all of you to reach out to me, Shawn, at email@example.com to be featured in an upcoming article. What I like and was hoping would happen is that I heard from some of you that only run rental companies and don’t have a stake in the sport aspect of it. This to me is exactly what I was hoping the article would do. That was the whole idea from conception. So I greatly thank those of you that took the time to reach out to me and those of you I have yet to get back to, you are on the “LIST”.
Since we last spoke I have been quite busy with boat shows and even a little trip to North Carolina to do some early season training with Flyboard Carolina’s. Those guys are first class. They helped us forget it was 2 degrees (f) at home. We even got an amazing 83 degree day (f) to try and rip 720’s. Met some great guys there getting ready to start their own Flyboard rental companies. It was very exciting. From that trip though, I realized from observing the people who come up and watch, and get that look of shear amazement, that this is why I want to do this. Why I want the world of flyboarding to be seen and tried by all. I think that it’s possible. I see the community building and see an even larger family starting to grow. This is good and this will allow for a more organized way of doing business.
Which now brings us to the next interview in our series, This time I reached out to Flyboard Malta Ltd., and their wonderful owner/operators Simon and Joanne Desira. What a world class company, the first in the entire country of Malta, Europe. I know for me this would be a dream place to go fly. Many of you might remember them for bringing us the live stream of the World Cup, which we greatly thank them for. I know my wife was wondering why I was up at 3 am eastern time in the U.S. I told her it was Flyboard Malta’s fault, they didn’t know I placed all the blame on them so they still let me interview them. What are the chances! I bet they are working on something even better for the next World Cup. Which means I better get an internet connection in the basement so as to not interrupt the wife and kid waking up to start their day. In the meantime I posed some questions to Simon and Joanne and here is what they had to say.
1. YOUR NAME AND NAME OF YOUR COMPANY
Simon and Joanne Desira , Flyboard Malta Ltd.
2. GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
3. HOW DID YOU AND YOUR COMPANY GET INTO FLYBOARDING?
We were on Facebook and a friend shared the Flyboard Official movie; we simply fell in love with it and brought the first one to Malta within three weeks of seeing the movie. We did not own a Jet Ski as yet; it was bought just a day after the Flyboard arrived in Malta.
4. HOW LONG IS YOUR SEASON. WHAT IS YOUR RENTAL SCHEDULE. DO YOU DISTRIBUTE FLYBOARD’S?
Our peak season runs between May and October, but we do still get people to fly in the other months as the water temperature only drops to 15 degrees C (59 F). We take bookings from 9:00am till 7:30pm during summer and between 11:00am and 2:30pm in winter. We are also the Exclusive Distributors for Zapata Racing in the Maltese Islands.
5. WHAT IS THE COST OF AN HOUR RENTAL WITH YOUR COMPANY AND DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS PRICE IS COMPETITIVE COMPARED TO OTHER TYPES OF ATTRACTIONS IN YOUR AREA? DO YOU FEEL THAT THEY ARE COMPETITIVE FOR THE FLYBOARDING COMMUNITY? DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE SHOULD BE A UNIVERSAL PRICE STRUCTURE?
We have two packages; a 15min flight for €65(approx. $108.00) or a 30min flight for €120(approx.. $199.00). We do not include the briefing in the time. We also include the use of communication helmets to give further instructions during use. We have invested in these helmets that have proven to be an asset, as we do not waste time in the briefing and customers are happy because they are receiving instructions whilst using the Flyboard. We do not feel any competition from other attractions as the experience of flight is unique! There can never be a universal price structure and the reason is that costs vary in each country, location rent, fuel costs, maintenance costs, liability insurance and spending power.
6. WHAT IS YOUR MODEL FOR DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS. DO YOU USE A FIXED LOCATION OR DO YOU TRAVEL?
Malta is only 316 km2 so we cater for on location booking. We can be at any beach in 30 minutes. Since the coast of Malta is very small it is very difficult to obtain a permit for a fixed location, but we have started negotiating with the local government to set up one.
7. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT 12 MONTHS WILL BRING WITH RESPECT TO MORE PEOPLE DISCOVERING FLYBOARDING? THIS BEING FROM THE RENTAL PERSPECTIVE? DO YOU THINK YOUR OVERALL RENTALS WILL INCREASE, DECREASE OR STAY THE SAME?
We invision that our rental business will eventually grow; we have worked hard during the winter on advertising in many locations around Malta and have focused more on social media for tourists visiting Malta. We have already started receiving bookings for summer so it is looking promising.
8. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMPETITION IN YOUR AREA? IS THERE ANY? DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE NEXT CLOSEST PLACE TO FLYBOARD IS AND DOES THIS AT ALL AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?
Our set up is amongst the best in the World. We’ve had quite a few rental companies, outside Malta asking us to help them set up, and we were glad to do so. If another company in Malta wishes to venture into the Flyboard Rentals we will be more than pleased to help them set up as well. It will eventually affect the business but since we have already established ourselves as being the first so we are at an advantage. We are also interested in selling the Flyboard and to spread the sport as much as possible. Introducing the Flyboard in Malta was not an easy task, we had to deal with all sorts of issues with the Local Authorities and the costs were very high. We have paved the road for anyone to use or rent a Flyboard in Malta, although insurance is still a big headache.
9. WHAT IS YOUR OPINON ON THE WAY RIGHTS ARE GIVEN OUT? WHAT DO YOU FEEL CAN BE DONE TO ASSURE THAT EVERYONE WHO HAS INVESTED CAN FEEL SAFE THAT THEY OWN THE RIGHTS TO THAT PARTICULAR AREA?
Since the Flyboard is a new product, and in the same market as any other product, you can do nothing about this. Before any person wishes to enter this business, they have to include this as a risk. Then again its healthy for competition.
10. ASIDE FROM THE SPORT ASPECT, DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE ARE OTHER USES THAT A FLYBOARD CAN BE APPLIED TOO? THE BEST EXAMPLE I HAVE HEARD IS LARGE SHIP CLEANING MACHINE?
No, the only use for the Flyboard is in sport and great water shows.
11. WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP, IN YOUR OPINION THAT HAS TO HAPPEN IN ORDER FOR THE FLYBOARD TO BECOME MORE MAIN STREAM? DO YOU WANT IT TO BECOME MORE MAINSTREAM, OF COURSE WITH RESPECT TO RENTALS?
For sure. To have flyboarding being recognized as a Sport followed by the creation of an Association.
12. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THERE IS AN AFTERMARKET OPPORTUNITY HERE FOR PEOPLE TO CREATE ADDITIONS TO THE FLYBOARD AS WELL AS PRODUCTS SPECIFICALLY FOR FLYBOARDING? DO YOU KNOW OF ANYONE CURRENTLY PRODUCING AFTERMARKET PRODUCT’S?
Franky and his team are continuously looking to further enhance the product. We see this with each year that goes by. Product research requires a huge amount of investment, so the only way to keep this possible is by marketing products that are manufactured by ZR. There is also another important factor in ZR products; they are tested to their extreme.
13. IF YOU COULD MAKE ONE CHANGE TO THE FLYBOARD, IF ANY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I would definitely recommend that the floaters be able t0 be changed separately. They tend to break when used in rentals.
14. HOW MANY MACHINES DO YOU RUN DURING YOUR RENTAL SEASON? DO YOU PLAN ON EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS AND ADDING ANY FURTHER MACHINES?
Last season, we were operating with one Flyboard, since only one instructor was available, but this year we are adding another machine, as Joanne is now a fully qualified Instructor.
15. OVERALL WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE ONE THING THAT YOU OFFER THAT MAYBE IS UNIQUE TO YOUR COMPANY? DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS WOULD WORK UNIVERSALLY FOR ALL IN THE RENTAL SPACE AND ARE YOU WILLING TO SHARE THAT?
It’s definitely the friendliness approach that we give, it is visible in the comments they leave on Tripadvisor and Facebook. We also take pictures and a 2-min video from the Jet Ski, which we send free of charge. We end up receiving friend requests on Facebook and still receive messages from them up to this day.
16. HAS THERE BEEN ANY COMPANY THAT YOU HAVE SEEN THAT YOU THOUGHT, “WOW WE NEED TO DO IT THAT WAY. IF YES, WHY?
With regards to how we operate, the equipment we use and the image we give, we’d say that we are at the highest level. However there is one thing that we would like to do next is to operate from a fixed location. I’ve seen some really nice locations that our Flyboard Family members have and would love to have one like that here in Malta.
17.WHAT, IF ANYTHING ARE YOU LOOKING TO DO TO GENERATE MORE INTEREST IN YOUR COMPANY AND FLYBOARDING IN GENERAL?
Flyboarding became our daily life. We are constantly updating our website, social media pages, sharing new videos and trying to organize events for the Flyboard community. Come next World Cup we are working hard to make the event streamed better than last year and to promote it so many more people can look forward to seeing it.
18. WHAT AS A WHOLE COMMUNITY SHOULD WE ALL DO IN ORDER TO BE MORE UNIFORM WITH RESPECT TO THE RENTAL BUSINESS?
We have to make sure that whoever runs a Rental Business has fully qualified instructors on every machine. To get a water sports license one must include a list of Instructors together with their qualifications. I would recommend that an official ZR endorsed Instructor qualification program be setup for everyone to follow. Next comes the image, for us this is a must; we have uniforms and machines all using the same colors, namely Red/Black and White. The image is also important for the customer to see as this is what catches their eye first. Some customers think that they are entrusting their life in your hands and would like to see a professional person when they meet you.
19. SOMEONE DISCOVERING FLYBOARDING FOR THE FIRST TIME MIGHT SAY WHAT WE ALL DID AND THINK “I WANT TO DO THIS TOO.” WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM WHEN TRYING TO BRING FLYBOARDING TO THERE AREA?
Operating a water sports center requires a license from the local authorities. This would not be possible without Instructor Certification and Insurance. These are the main issues and hardest to obtain, the rest can be described as enjoyable.
20. WITH THE NUMBER OF RENTAL COMPANIES IN NORTH AMERICA, AND THE WORLD OVERALL BEING VERY SMALL, DO YOU ANTICIPATE A RUSH OF COMPANIES OPENING AND IF SO WHAT TIME FRAME WOULD YOU SAY BEFORE EVERY LAKE HAS A FLYBOARD ON IT.
Entering a water sport business is not something that you do overnight. A good plan requires research on location, costs and potential customers, which vary from town to town. The Insurance is the biggest headache, so with all that summed up; I don’t think that every lake or beach would have one. What I am truly worried about are people buying a Flyboard for personal use and operating a rental without a license, which would surely endanger our investment.
21. WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT EVERY CUSTOMER JUST LOVES ABOUT YOUR COMPANY AND FLYBOARDING IN GENERAL?
The use of communication helmets puts them in a safe environment as soon as they are in the water. Making them fly in less than 5 minutes will prove to them that Flyboarding is a sport that anyone, at any age without the need to be physically fit can do and apart from this it’s totally fun.
22. IF YOU COULD OWN A COMPANY ANYWHERE OTHER THAN WHERE YOU ARE, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
Mexico, as you can Flyboard all throughout the year!
23. DO YOU LIKE SOME OF THE NEW PRODUCTS FOR 2014 AND WHICH DO YOU FEEL WILL BE THE BEST ADVANCEMENT OVER THE PREVIOUS VERSION?
Franky is one hell of a guy and he has the support of a great wife, his inventions and continuous improvement of the products is amazing. We feel that the best advancement would be in the Wireless Electronic Kit. Can’t wait to try it out!
Well as we see the Desira’s in Malta are a world class organization and obviously follow the best practices of creating a successful business. I’m sure they would be successful in any and all they do. I want those of you out there looking to start a company and see that it’s surely a lot more than throwing a board up in the air. It’s about many aspects that you might not even think of and many that you might conquer immediately. Those of us who already have companies can learn from Simon and Joanne also. There are still many things to learn. All of it is do-able but as Simon and Joanne pointed out, there is risk involved and from their responses I learned that only hard work will prevail!!….untill next time folks….Go get high, Flyboard high.