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Tuesday, December 5th 2023

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GoJumpOn | A Groupon site for airfares, debuts in Calgary

GoJumpOn debuts in Calgary

A short while back, the founder of GoJumpOn gave me a shout to let me know that their Groupon-like site for airfares would be launching shortly, with Calgary as their test-bed.

Everyone knows the Groupon concept, if enough people buy, the deal becomes valid, and we all get a great deal at a local restaurant. Or at least we used to, until restaurateurs started realizing Groupon wasn't such a great deal for them after all, and Groupon and all the clones they spawned turned into a cesspit of offers for massages, weight-loss programs, and laser treatments.

You might be thinking you've already seen the Groupon concept applied to travel. Expedia even partnered with Groupon, right?

What you've seen is the concept applied to packages or hotels, never to airfares alone. From what I've observed, the deals are rarely anything to write home about, and usually involve a discount on a package or hotel price that can be found numerous places online, Group-buy or not. Which is why I've never blogged about them, they're really nothing special.

You may also have seen the scam version that was going around for a while, where it was being claimed that you could buy '$39 flights', but it turned out that you needed to buy outrageously priced hotel rooms on top of that, and those $39 flights suddenly became very expensive.

But GoJumpOn, this is something interesting and novel. I believe it's the first time the Group-buy concept has truly been applied to 'airfare only'. Certainly it's the first time in Canada, and I'm pretty sure the first time in North America, and possibly the world.

It's a whole different ball game to apply the Group-buy concept to flights, vs say, a hotel room. Will people be willing to commit to a flight that will only happen if 100 other people commit to it as well, if it saves them money?

That was the first question that popped into my head, but others soon followed. Below I'll list what I've been able to find out in answer to those questions. There's also a pretty good FAQ on GoJumpOn's site.

Who's behind this? Where are they getting the planes from? Who are the pilots?

It appears to be Enerjet, or at least someone associated with them, the Boeing 737 charter company that has been flying oilfield workers between Calgary and Fort McMurray for the past 7 years or so.

Apparently their jets are just sitting around on weekends, going unused, and this concept is an attempt to start utilizing them. Presumably the pilots are the same ones they use for the flights to Fort McMurray. All appears to be above board, and I've heard great things about Enerjet, but have never flown with them.

Where are they planning to fly? How much will it cost?

Their first offer was released today, and it looks like it's a direct flight to Las Vegas, from Friday April 19 to Sunday April 21, for $479 roundtrip after taxes.

If you use the coupon code CM284 when you book, you'll receive an extra $50 off, bringing the cost of the flight down to $429 roundtrip after taxes. If you sign up, you also get a coupon code that you can pass on to friends and they would get $50 off. Etc, Etc.

It looks like future possible destinations include Vancouver, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, or Toronto. They're also accepting destination ideas for where you'd like to go on a weekend trip

Can this concept fly?

One thing that GoJumpOn is emphasizing is that all of their flights are direct, over the weekend, and at great times. In other words, the sort of flights that are typically expensive relative to non-weekend flights, or flights at inconvenient hours, or flights with multiple stopovers.

I think Las Vegas is a good first choice to test this concept out. Vegas is certainly the most popular weekend destination vacation for Calgarians, and everybody wants those prime Friday to Sunday direct flights, leaving after work, and coming home at a reasonable time. And that's why they always cost an arm and a leg. Supply and demand.

Taking a look at April flight prices today from all four April weekends, the cheapest Friday to Sunday direct flights from Calgary to Vegas are $594 roundtrip after taxes, using WestJet. (Coincidentally, it's the same April 19-21 weekend, making it a perfect comparison).

So that's a $115 to $165 difference in price, per passenger, depending on whether you use the coupon code or not. A fairly significant savings to be sure, but the question becomes, is it enough to sway 100 people into committing to a flight that may happen? By committing to the GoJumpOn flight, a person would be forgoing the opportunity to purchase a guaranteed flight on a traditional airline.

Luckily, there aren't too many other costs in travel that you need to pay for upfront, making it a viable option for certain types of travelers. One can always cancel their hotel room or their car rental without penalty, if a flight doesn't happen. You wouldn't want to purchase any show tickets before knowing the flight was a go though!

And what about those with families ? Babysitter arrangements? Do you need to know whether or not a flight will happen or not before you can take time off work? Ultimately I think this concept will probably appeal most to those with more flexible lives.

There might also be a bit of a 'wait-and-see' mentality, where we all watch to see if the flight is filling up, and 'jump on' if it's looking like it will most likely happen. Right now for example, I can see on the GoJumpOn site that 8 of the seats to Vegas have sold, with 112 more needed for the flight to be a go. That in and of itself is unique, as flight inventory is generally a jealously guarded secret in the airline industry.

Anyways, kudos to GoJumpOn for trying something novel, in an industry where you rarely see anything too innovative. I hope they are able to succeed, as ultimately, more competition is always a good thing for the travel consumer, especially in Canada where it's sorely needed.

I think it would be interesting if the concept were to really take off, and perhaps we'd see some very unique weekend trips available at a low cost. The Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) for example, started allowing 737s to land there in 2011. Just a thought.

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