American Marketer


Sentient Jet hones in on concentrated wealth with Churchill Downs partnership

February 17, 2016

Sentient Jet Sentient Jet


Private aviation company Sentient Jet is hoping to impress luxurians through a partnership with the Kentucky Derby.

Sentient Jet has been named the preferred private aviation partner of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Churchill Downs Racetrack in a multi-year agreement. The high-end clientele that the venue and events attract make it an ideal location for an aviator to try to win over fans and create space in a crowded field.

“Sentient Jet has long been an avid supporter of the horse racing community,” said Andrew Collins, president and CEO of Sentient Jet. “With both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks seeing record attendance last year, it’s a particularly exciting time for Churchill Downs.

“Given the authentic interest that many of our Cardholders have in the sport, this partnership was a natural fit,” he said. "We also partner with many other brands in the industry, including Breeders’ Cup and Fasig Tipton, and following the success of these collaborations, this is another great opportunity for Sentient Jet to activate and engage with that audience at the most high-profile racing event of the year.”

Triple Crown
The Kentucky Derby is the United States’ most famous horse race and is regarded as one of the sports world’s most prestigious events. Last year’s Derby attracted 170,513 attendees, with demand likely to be higher this year following American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory in 2015.

Sentient Jet promotional image

Sentient Jet promotional image

High demand and prestige have made the races a haven for celebrities and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, giving Sentient Jet a chance to connect with a crowd far more likely than almost any other to be in need of private jet services.

The Kentucky Oaks race is as old as the Derby, dating back to 1875, and is a race for 3-year-old fillies (female horses) that takes place the day before the Derby. Last year’s event attracted 123,763 attendees, also a record.

Through the terms of the agreement, Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks guests will receive exclusive benefits on Sentient Jet, and the charter will introduce a Kentucky Derby-themed flight card. The card includes tickets to both races, a VIP experience at the events and exclusive amenities to go along with the 25 hours of private jet flight time and other cardholder benefits.

Sentient Jet 400 (2)

Sentient Jet liftoff

Those who were still planning their trip now have an added incentive for choosing Sentient Jet. Because the company’s business model is built around purchasing hours rather than fractional ownership, even those who already have relationships with similar companies might opt for Sentient.

Patrons old and new flying Sentient Jet will have preferred access to tickets to the Derby. In-bound jets will offer a themed experience, including a mini-bar primed for Mint Juleps and Oaks Lilies, the official drinks of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively.

Those who purchased tickets in The Mansion, the racetrack’s hospitality venue, will have access to Derby Air powered by Sentient Jet. The service connects consumers with a private concierge team that will book private travel to and from Louisville, KY.

Sentient Jet 400

Sentient Jet

The service offers another chance for Sentient Jet to strike a relationship with new consumers who have not planned their trip or do not have a close relationship with other private aviation companies. The concentrated and traveled wealth of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks attendees similarly ensures that impressions are overwhelmingly concentrated among prospects with the means and habits of private flyers.

“The Kentucky Derby was our largest sporting event for private air travel last year, and we saw a 50 percent increase in demand amongst Sentient Jet Cardholders in 2015 over 2014,” Mr. Collins said. “The event continually attracts a curated audience of high-net-worth ticket holders and participants that match well with our customer base and we are thrilled to partner with Churchill Downs to play a larger role in these renowned races.”

Equestrian extravaganza
Although Sentient Jets has sponsored a number of such events, other brands have also taken advantage of the concentration of wealth that particular sports and recreations bring.

In August, German automaker Audi became the luxury automotive sponsor of Greenwich Polo Club’s East Coast Open, one of the United States’ most prestigious polo competitions.

Guests had the opportunity to meet polo stars and participate in various activities at a number of unique Audi-supported hospitality events. The sponsorship further cemented Audi’s ongoing association with and support for polo (see story).

Recognizing the crowd that such events attract, Sentient Jet has made a habit of partnering with equestrian events.

Over the summer, private aviator Sentient Jet, together with its partner the Breeders’ Cup, offered equestrian lovers an opportunity to witness horse-racing history through its latest promotional effort.

At the time, American Pharoah was on the “hooves” of being the first Triple Crown winner since the Breeders’ Cup was established 32 years ago, and the colt then had the potential to capture a “Grand Slam” title when he competed at the World Championships at Keeneland, KY this October. With so much attention honed in on the horse-racing world, interest in Breeders’ Cup events was particularly high among affluents wishing to be part of the action (see story).

"The flexibility of the jet card and unparalleled customer service are key differentiating factors for Sentient Jet in the private aviation field, and partnerships with brands like the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs help further differentiate the brand,” Mr. Collins said. “By partnering with likeminded brands that resonate with our cardholders, we are able to elevate and personalize the Sentient Jet experience.”