Social travel booking app Cape aims to reinvigorate the travel industry in the Philippines by creating the first-of-its-kind, a marketplace for standby tickets for local and international flights in the world.
Held on November 18 and 19 of last year, APEC Philippines billed the archipelago nation as a rising star in Southeast Asia, but the event overlooked an industry key to the country’s continued economic growth: air travel.
Social travel booking app Cape wants to reinvigorate the nation’s travel industry. The Android and iOS app enables travelers to book standby tickets from the comfort of their mobile phone, its name harkening back to our childhood, when all we needed was a cape to fly.
Standby tickets have typically been reserved exclusively for the dependents of airline employees as well as travelers who may have missed an earlier flight. With Cape, travelers can book standby tickets to destinations in the Philippines and around the world at discounts up to 70% off the regularly priced fare.
The dramatically discounted tickets, in turn, incentivize users who would otherwise not travel – say, the relative who wants to attend an out-of-town wedding on another island, but finds the cost prohibitively expensive – to go ahead and fly.
As a result, Cape eliminates the barrier for this demographic to travel, opens up an entirely new market segment for airlines, and succeeds at the undisputably difficult task of filling up seats on sparsely occupied planes. With airlines operating on razor-thin margins of 3% and routinely filling only 80% of the available seats on a flight according to Cape’s first-hand market research with airlines, Cape is a solution that ultimately increases their revenues.
It also does so without additional operational costs, as most of the other strategies, such as adding WiFi to flights or increasing cabin space, have required. Cape thus marks one of the first significant Philippine-made entries into the lucrative global sharing economy, as co-founder and CEO Lyle Jover noted.
“Most people associate innovation with creating something entirely new, but there is a world of opportunity present in simply using what we already have more efficiently and intelligently, as the likes of Uber and AirBNB have shown us. In this same way, Cape will create a thriving
marketplace off of what was only unused capacity for airlines, allowing them to realize real revenues from what would otherwise be empty seats,” said Jover, who has a background in industrial engineering and came up with the idea for Cape out of his own frustration with the travel industry.
As he had several close family friends who were airline employees, Jover had regular access to standby tickets in the form of buddy passes while growing up. He was thus able to extensively travel the Philippines and the world. During a planned trip to Europe last year, he wanted to invite a friend along with him, but they both found the regularly priced ticket too expensive for their budget.
It was when Jover had to board the plane to by himself that he realized there had to be a better way. The user experience for obtaining standby tickets had to improve, and they needed to be available to more people, who still relied on irregular seat sales from budget airlines to travel on a whim.
The social component of Cape was also born out of Jover’s own experiences. To encourage people to fly with one another, users are notified when one of their friends books a flight through the app. If the friend in turn books the same flight to join their companion, both of their standby tickets are further discounted.
This system incentivizes users to travel and to travel more frequently – airlines partnered with Cape will see their flights fill up and their revenues increase. But perhaps more interestingly, the entire industry built around air travel will also get a boost, which includes everything from airport shuttle services to hotels on other islands.
It is this fact that Jover and the Cape team are most proud of.
“When you allow people to book standby tickets, you’re not just giving them a plane ticket – what you’re really giving them is mobility. Mobility to experience your country and indeed the world in ways that they’ve never experienced before. It will be eye opening for them, and it will also ultimately help the companies that cater to them throughout these journeys,” said Jover, who added that Cape will be launched later this year.