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“We sought to create a service that avoided the chaos, confusion, and congestion related to commercial airfare.”

Greg Stallkamp is the founder and CEO of Lakeshore Express Aviation. A regional air carrier he launched in 2010. Prior to this position, Mr. Stallkamp launched a social networking software company, Holos LLC and worked in a variety of consulting and investment banking positions. Lakeshore Express is a regional air carrier operating in the Midwestern United States. The company offers scheduled flight service connecting Chicago, Detroit and Northern Michigan. The service offers customers the ability to turn a 7 hour drive into a one hour flight. Lakeshore Express offers a different type of flight experience. By operating out of private terminals on the grounds of major airports, their customers avoid the chaos, congestion, and confusion related to commercial air travel. Amenities such as complimentary beverages, first class legroom, free parking or shuttle service, and the elimination of all unnecessary fees (baggage, check-in, seat assignment) are standard on every flight.

Lakeshore Express

BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired to you start Lakeshore Express?

Greg: We started Lakeshore Express, because we were tired of the way we were being treated by commercial airlines. We knew there was a better way to fly. We sought to create a service that avoided the chaos, confusion, and congestion related to commercial airfare. We sought to find a way to return to a time when flying was actually enjoyable.

BusinessInterviews.com: Few start-up airlines ever make it off the ground. How have you managed to succeed in a highly volatile and competitive industry?

Greg: We are able to survive due to the loyalty of our customers. We have been the recipients of incredible word-of-mouth referrals from our customers. Despite being a new company, we estimate that more than 70% of our customers are repeat customers. We have a very loyal base that wants to see us survive.

BusinessInterviews.com: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked really well for you?

Greg: We place heavy emphasis on our online social media strategies. We believe that online social media platforms are the most effective marketing campaigns we could pursue. In short, social media allows us to foster strong word-of-mouth referrals by staying in constant communication with our customers (followers).

BusinessInterviews.com: Do you have any plans for expansion?

Greg: We currently have roughly 12 new routes under review. At the same time, we are working closely with the DOT/FAA to expand our current flight schedule so we can offer daily flight service (every day of the week). As we’ve expanded as a company, we’ve found there are limitless opportunities with new routes.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?

Greg: There are few trends in the airline industry that are to the benefit of the consumer, but one that stands out is the increased level of technology on the aircraft themselves. Aircraft are becoming more “tech-friendly”, allowing the use of electronic devices throughout the flight. While our flights are all of short-duration (6o to 90 minutes), we feel this move towards increased technology will be of strong benefit on long intercontinental trips (on other carriers).

BusinessInterviews.com: If you had to start all over again is there anything that you’d do differently?

Greg: Every day is an experiment for us to see what works and what doesn’t work – whether that means revising the schedule, adding new routes, changing flight times, etc. It isn’t a question of what one thing we’d do differently, it’s a matter of how many things we’d do differently. I suppose the best thing we could have done different is focus all our attention on our customers and constantly get their feedback on the value of our service. We’ve found that constant interaction with our customers is the most important thing we can do.

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