Quick Q&A: Samantha Thorne, Skyline Worldwide

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How did you get in to the serviced apartment sector and where have you worked during your career?

"In 1987 my business partner and I launched London Life Apartments. We offered serviced apartments to both leisure and corporate travellers throughout London. 1997 saw the merger of London Life Apartments wtih BridgeStreet. In 2015 I joined Skyline as chief operating officer."


What plans do you have for the Skyline brand over the next few years - what should we be looking out for from the company?

"Skyline is delighted to announce the opening of our new office in Johannesburg on 1st September 2015. We recognised the ever increasing demand for challenging locations such as Lagos and Nairobi. In view of this and through our local presence, Skyline's business strategy is to have visited, vetted and established relationships in five countries in Africa by the end of the year. In addition we are expanding our portfolio in London as well as developing our Network throughout the EMEA region."


"Skyline's emphasis and focus will also be on enhancing and defining our current technology. With more robust fully integrated systems, live inventory, online booking and mobile app facilities, our aim is to interface with clients, guests and suppliers online in real time, 24/7. Finally, our new branding was unveiled at the Serviced Apartment Summit, in July 2015."


What is the ratio of business to leisure travellers at Skyline properties, and how is that balance changing?

"The ratio of leisure travellers would be around 20 per cent at present. The majority of our business is generated through corporate clients whether business travellers, projects, intern groups, relocation, lease management or extended stay. With the introduction of online booking channels, we anticipate increasing the ratio of leisure travellers to 30 to 40 per cent."


What do you think will be the biggest changes in serviced apartments distribution over the next few years? Do you see a convergence with the likes of Airbnb or should serviced apartments be marketed separately as a regulated, safer product?

"Within the next five years, we expect to see further growth within the industry in the EMEA region due to consolidation and collaboration between suppliers. This could be via an amalgamated online distribution system similar to the airline industry model, such as One World. With the introduction and expansion of governing bodies and associations within the serviced apartment sector, further measures with minimum codes of practise and benchmarking will be introduced. This will enable standardisation of consistency of product and service levels across the industry, ensuring quality and safety guidelines are regulated."




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