Interview: James Shotton, CEO of Skytime Jets

Interview: James Shotton, CEO of Skytime Jets

You launched Skytime Jets with your wife in 2012, how did the company start?

We were working for a large, established aircraft operator and broker, who we had been with for over ten years. During this time we gleaned expertise and insight into the industry, experiencing the boom times and the more difficult post-recession period of 2009 and 2010, which in fact sadly culminated in the business closing down in 2012. When this happened we were put in a challenging situation. Whilst previously we had thought about setting up our own business, it was not until we were faced with this adversity that we decided to take the plunge and launch Skytime Jets.

How are you different from the competition?

Our mission at Skytime Jets is to go beyond simply booking a flight from A to B: we have a hand-held approach with our clients. We also work very closely with carefully chosen and curated luxury brand partners including Moët Hennessy UK, Café Royal, Marcus Wareing Restaurants, ITC Luxury and Dreamsmith Events –to deliver a more experiential service. We place emphasis on building personal relationships with clients, which in turn enables us to offer them unprecedented access. For instance, for one of our clients, passionate about champagne we were able to arrange a last-minute trip for them to visit the Moët Champagne Chateau in Reims where they met and were hosted by Olivier Krug.

Are you noticing any trends in the luxury travel world?

Delivering a service is no longer enough in the luxury travel market. There is increasing demand now to provide a more enhanced bespoke element to the journey. There has also been huge growth in the use of online, technology and app-based communications in the luxury and travel industries but human interaction with clients is regaining popularity: the face-less interactions of technology have its limitations.

Will you go down the Uber approach to private aviation?

We aspire to embrace technology to improve processes, making traveling easier and quicker. However, delivery our services will always remain with our staff, which cannot be matched or replaced by technology.


Who is your most exciting client?

All of our clients are exciting: we look after high profile global influencers! We don’t specifically share names but they range from successful business leaders, to royalty to world-renowned musicians on their global music tours. Retaining their privacy is paramount.

How does your relationship with the leisure travel agents work?

We work with agents focused on creating enhanced luxury experiences for the elite consumer. We tailor our services directly to the needs of leisure travel agents to create one-off experiences. This is unlike the larger private aviation companies, where often one-size-fits all. Travel agents value our experience and our personal interactive approach to luxury travel.

Do you receive many bookings through agents and is this an area you want to build on?

We often work with agents on a commission and partnership basis and this varies on each relationship. We have recently partnered with ITC Luxury travel and Dreamsmith Events, both established leaders in delivering a highly bespoke level of service to their clients, which has meant that they understand our values and approach to customer service. We would like to build upon these sorts of relationships in the future so that we can continue to create out-of-this world experiences.

What is the most surprising request you’ve received?

We have had many over the years! A few instances stand out: one of our clients’ pets needed to be flown alone from London to meet them on holiday in Sardinia. We have also been asked to make a special trip to fly food from a specific London restaurant to a well-known music band in New York.

What does the future hold for Skytime Jets?

We would like to continue to grow the business but never at a rate that would compromise the service we offer. Our core objective is to continue to add value and offer a different approach to luxury service in a crowded market place so that our clients continue to receive an enhanced travel experience.


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