Saturday, February 25th, 2023

How is age affecting your students?

Successful companies create niche products and services to cater to different segments of their customers. They can then serve those customers better while increasing utilization and productivity, increasing their revenues, and reducing their overhead.

So let’s look at one segment––age––to see how we can create niche services to cater to different age segments among student pilots.

When I was a teenager it was my job to program the family VCR to record shows my parents had highlighted in the TV Guide! Back then I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t do it themselves. Now, as I get older, I’ve learned that it takes me much longer to become proficient and comfortable at adopting new technology that my kids can figure out intuitively.

You and your instructors are probably already changing the way you teach students depending on your customers’ age, but there are other ways age can affect your customers’ experience.

Physical limitations: As I get older and less mobile I find a step-stool can make it easier to check the fuel and wipe the windshields of high wing Cessnas. Similarly, the two doors of those same Cessnas are much easier to enter than climbing on the wing and sliding across the front seats of the typical low-wing trainer.

Motivations: Two people who share a similar lifelong dream of learning to fly may have different goals depending on their age, whether it’s traveling to a distant location for a weekend getaway with their spouse, or to a nearby airfield for a monthly pancake breakfast to mingle with like-minded enthusiasts. Helping one choose and flight plan a getaway to fly once they earn their certificate, or taking the other to a pancake breakfast during their training may be just the motivation they each need to complete their training.

Time: Have you ever wondered why the Golden Age of general aviation peaked in the late-1960s through the Seventies? Or why the post-war aviation boom that everyone expected at the end of the Second World War never materialized?

In the late-1940s, young GIs in their twenties returning from the war were focused on starting a career and a family: many of them were pilots, but they had neither the time nor money to fly. By the late-1960s, those same GIs were in their forties with established careers, a house, and kids in high school or college.

Plotting the arc of time of a typical lifetime would result in a u-shaped graph. When we’re young we have plenty of time (and little money): if a young person can get a discount by flying at unpopular hours they would.

By the time we get into our prime earning years we have money, but time is valuable. Finding time to fly between work and family engagements is challenging, and someone looking to fly while juggling a career would pay a premium for an accelerated course.

As we get close to retirement we have both time and money, and are perhaps looking for a new community to relieve the boredom of retirement.

If you’re looking for more ways you can segment your customers, we’ve posted a simple (and fun) exercise on Facebook and Instagram to find patterns and connections between your students. We’ll be posting more tips and hacks going forward so check it out and tell us what you think!