Back to newsBack to news  |  21st May 2024

Having entered the industry straight out of university, it’s fair to say that aviation is in Neil Conley’s blood. Having ignited a passion for flying, he trained and qualified as a corporate helicopter pilot, flying in the US and UK transporting wealthy clients from A to B.

Being both pragmatic and enterprising, Neil set up a travel business as a back-up plan (on the recommendation of fellow pilots), which he initially managed in tandem with his piloting contracts.

“Flying was an incredibly valuable experience, providing me with skills that proved indispensable as Skytrail grew and evolved. While I loved teaching others to fly and taking family and friends on flights, the rapid expansion of Skytrail demanded my full attention. Moreover, with the arrival of my children, it became clear that I needed to prioritize my time differently. The expertise I gained as a pilot seamlessly transferred to my role at Skytrail, allowing me to drive the company forward with confidence,” he says.

Having made the decision to hang up his professional pilot’s hat, Neil was presented with an opportunity to start something new and exciting with long-time business associate, Colin Williams.

With my expertise in systems, processes and managing day to day activities, and Colin’s sales prowess, we complement each other, and it made sense to join forces to create something unique and worthwhile.

“Having already built a strong working relationship and sharing similar personalities, it was a natural progression to combine our skills and collaborate. As a result, we established Skytrail.”

Through sheer hard work and strategic networking, the partners developed an innovative business model in whole plane charters and series seats, which gained recognition and appreciation from major tour companies, cruise operators, and airlines alike.

A business model that delivers

Neil explains that Skytrail inherited the existing office infrastructure and experienced staff from his travel company. This facilitated a smooth transition to an aviation consultancy and enabled the team to successfully manage and develop the business from the get-go.

“A key moment was when we were awarded the easyJet series seats contract because we had the expertise, systems and processes to make the whole experience better for all parties. This required motivation and drive, which the entire team possess in abundance,” says Neil.

One of Neils’ strengths is delegation because he knows he can’t do it all – and wouldn’t want to. The only way to build and sustain a thriving business is with a motivated team who feel appreciated and valued, he says.

“At Skytrail, we cultivate an inclusive environment, where everyone has a voice and is free to express themselves and participate. I provide guidance when needed but I don’t micromanage staff. Once projects are distributed among the various departments, I leave them to get on with it, make decisions, and therefore be a constructive part of the business. I trust them to do a great job.”

Building long-term partnerships

Under Neil’s guidance, Skytrail has evolved into a flourishing business utilising its own bespoke booking system to simplify communication between the travel industry and airlines for series seat bookings and whole plane charters. The team has built enduring relationships and positioned Skytrail as a trusted and respected partner within the aviation industry.

He comments: “You know what you get with Skytrail. We are transparent and straightforward. Our systems make everybody’s life easier as we continue to invest heavily to achieve this. And, of course, we have great staff. Our customers know this and appreciate it.

“As such, we’ve been able to align ourselves with leading airlines – easyJet, BA, Jet 2 and TUI. We are typically their go-to partner when dealing with tour operators and cruise companies across the UK and Europe. Over the many years we’ve been doing this, it works exceptionally well driving value for both airlines and tour operators.”

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