Both companies also have parties at the Super Bowl and the Art Basel art fair in Miami Beach, Fla.
“The No. 1, 2 and 3 reasons for these events are retention, retention, retention,” said Kenny Dichter, chief executive of Wheels Up. “If people show up, they’ll always renew.”
But if other jet companies — and luxury purveyors in general — are throwing the same great parties at the same exclusive venues, the events lose their unique appeal.
After a five-figure initiation fee, Wheels Up charges $4,500 to $7,500 an hour. Another industry rival, VistaJet, which aims for a more global client and so has bigger jets, charges $12,000 to $19,000 an hour.
To woo their well-heeled clients, such companies create events so intimate that they beggar belief. Want to play tennis with Roger Federer? NetJets has organized that. If you’d prefer Serena Williams, Wheels Up has set up private events with her.
Then there were private viewings of the David Rockefeller collection before it went to auction this week at Christie’s. To see it all meant hopping among international destinations, and VistaJet took care of it.
“In London, 20,000 people saw it, but I arranged a dinner for 12 people in Christie’s ballroom with the head of Christie’s London and the head curator of the Rockefeller auction,” said Matteo Atti, executive vice president for marketing and innovation at VistaJet. “I put people in the room who might like each other.”
And for many, that’s the cachet: rubbing elbows with other equally wealthy people who may have shared interests or present a business opportunity.
Of course, sometimes the bar is not that high. Mr. Orender recalled a simple perk of having exclusive access to the Olympic Games: “There was a special line so no one was hassling you and you didn’t have to wait to go in.”