August CEO Letter
August 18th, 2020
Time has become distorted during this pandemic. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been CEO here at Aira for over six months. All of us at Aira hope that you and your family are safe, we also humbly recognize that there are members of our community who are hurting as well and want to thank you for including us in all aspects of life. Finally, I want to welcome all of our new Explorers, including those in the newly launched UK and our new Access partners.
Speaking of time, our first five years were about growing our brand, our users, and our partners. As I outlined in the last monthly letter, these next five years will be about transparency, stability, and sustainability. With these principles in mind, there are important changes I am announcing along with the rationale that will take effect shortly and involve all Explorers.
Free Five Minute – the offer is changing
Aira’s mission is to provide access to visual information to as many people who are blind or have low vision for many years to come. Aira’s operations are supported by individual subscribers and Access partners. Aira has always provided free service including the Job Seeker offer, our Association of African American Museums offer, and one-time events such as conventions, limited-time promotions, and many more.
The COVID pandemic has brought unimaginable challenges to individuals and businesses alike, especially small businesses like Aira. Though we understand the financial situation of many of our customers and we want to do what we can to be of assistance during this especially challenging time, we cannot sustain this offer in its current form. After examining the data and engaging our partners and customers, including the new Dynamic Insight Group, to consider options, we are announcing today the next iteration of the free five-minute offer.
History of Free at Aira
In late August of 2019, Aira released a new offer that allowed everyone to make free calls of up to five minutes in length. We did this in part to allow people to more freely engage Aira and discover our service without a financial obligation. Since that time, the use of “Free 5” has grown in popularity to the point where it seriously jeopardizes the sustainability of the Aira service. During the past year, we’ve seen our active base of Explorers grow considerably while at the same time an increased frequency in use of the five minute free offer. As Explorers become more comfortable with Aira they tend to incorporate more use cases of Aira and discover many of these tasks can be accomplished in short sessions. More users making increasingly more free calls has resulted in the percentage of Aira paid calls moving 5% of all calls a year ago to now over 55% of our call volume.
As you can imagine, no business can survive for long with such an imbalance. Therefore, I am announcing changes to our Free offer which seeks to provide a level of free service that can be economically sustained for the foreseeable future.
Announcing the new Five Minute Free offer
As of August 25 at 6:00am Pacific time, Aira will provide two tiers of “Free 5”, one for guests and another for paid subscribers.
Guests may make one (1) free call every 24 hours of up to five minutes in length.
Paid subscribers may make one (1) free call of up to five minutes in length every four hours.
The app will have a timer located in the usage tab to make it easy to know when you can make your next call. For more about these changes, please check out our Frequently Asked Questions here: www.aira.io/free
As with all offers, “Free 5” is subject to change.
I know that this change will have an impact on many individuals as so many have made use of the unlimited free offer. At Aira, we look forward to the growing network of Access partners to continue to increase the availability of Aira for all. In that mission, your advocacy and voice provide evidence to partners of the value of a service such as Aira.
We are also releasing alongside this change the ability to purchase Aira gift cards and the ability for subscribers to purchase minute bundles at new price points.
Gift Cards are back
Aira Gift Cards debuted as a limited-time offer late last year. Now, they’re back! Starting on August 25th, you can once again purchase Aira gift cards. Cards come in $30, $50 and $100 amounts and can be applied to any Aira account as long as you know the phone number with which the account is identified. To learn more, or to purchase Aira Gift Cards, contact our Customer Care Team or visit www.aira.io/gift-2020 and navigate to gift card purchase.
Add-On Minutes that don’t expire – you no longer have to wait until you are almost of plan minutes
Finally, we are very excited to announce a change in the bundles of add-on minutes that you can purchase during those months where you find yourself wishing for just a little bit more Aira. Starting August 25th, monthly subscribers will be able to purchase bundles in sets of 25, 50, and 100 minutes. Additionally, the minimum threshold to purchase additional bundles has been changed. With this change, you will now be able to purchase a second set of add-on minutes after using only 5% of your first bundle whereas previously you’d have to wait until you had used over 95% of your plan minutes. Planning a big event, working from home, or crushing your quarantine goals? This change means that you won’t have to worry again about getting access to the minutes you need.
As a monthly subscriber, your first set of add-on minutes can be purchased at any time. This threshold only applies to your second bundle. Add-on minutes are not used until you have used all of your monthly plan minutes and, for as long as you keep your plan, they never expire. You can purchase add-on minute bundles in the usage tab or by contacting the Customer Care team.
Dynamic Insight Group
Thanks to all of our customers who applied to be part of the Dynamic Insight Group (DIG). Members have been chosen to represent the greatest variety of Aira users across demographics, geography, and vision loss. The goal of the DIG is to engage our customer base even further and gain insights into the needs and innovative thinking from our community. Early in August we conducted our first full session and will continue the engagement for the next six months until a new set of individuals will be asked to participate. The DIG had input on the changes mentioned above and will continue to play a crucial role in Aira going forward. All DIG members are under non-disclosure agreements and therefore shall remain anonymous.
Thank you for your support
We appreciate the support of all of our customers. If you have any questions about anything mentioned in this newsletter, please contact our Customer Care Team at the support numbers below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe and stay well.
Troy Otillio, And Your Aira Team
US & Canada: 800.835.1934
New Zealand: 800.425.451