• Can you give us a brief career history? How did you get into the serviced apartment sector?
"While living in New York, 15 years ago, I had some experience in real estate rentals. I moved to Italy in 2006 and after holding various positions I initiated my journey in Halldis in 2009, as sales representative. The company was looking for a French native speaker in charge of its Paris portfolio. Right away after the first interview, I contacted - via LinkedIn - Pietro Martani, Halldis' CEO and founder, and we immediately found many synergies and touch points - he had studied at the same university in New York where I had worked for three years."
"After working for six months as a sales account manager, I was involved in a new project: reorganising the customer welcome process in Milan. Later I went to work in business development, and developed some strategic partnerships. I launched the first collaborations with travel intermediaries and tour operators, and finally I became head of sales."
"To summarise a little - I am Malian by birth (born and raised in Mali), French by education (went to high school and university in France ), American by training/experience (got my first professional success in New York) and Italian for/by love ( I moved to Italy for love)."
• How well known is the serviced apartment concept in Italy? Who are the main players and what are the biggest challenges and opportunities the sector faces there?
"Our CEO Pietro Martani, who had formerly studied and worked in the US, introduced the concept of serviced apartments to Italy in 2002, and Halldis became the first successful company in the corporate housing and holiday rental sector in the country. At the time the concept of serviced apartments was not very common throughout Italy. Nowadays, even if there's a large presence of second homes, owners still usually rent them out privately, through word of mouth and personal contacts. In the last year we have seen that many international big players have entered the market, the OTAs offer vacation rentals and forms of peer to peer property rental have become more common, along with some national and local players."
• Tell us about Halldis in terms of company history and its business model.
"Halldis dates back to 1986, when Leonardo Ferragamo, from the famous Salvatore Ferragamo fashion house, created Windows on Italy, a rental agency for period properties in Tuscany. In 2002 Pietro Martani founded Halldis in Milan, the first entrepreneurial activity in Italy dedicated to the management of apartments for short-term rental. In 2004 Halldis set up in Paris, its first overseas destination, and in 2007 Pietro Martani and Leonardo Ferragamo merged together their respective companies, founding the Windows On Europe Group."
"All the companies within the Windows on Europe Group are structured to offer both customers and property owners a complete, coordinated and efficient service. Halldis offers housing solutions for those travelling for business or pleasure, assuring the comforts of a real home. We offer fully furnished, fully equipped, serviced apartments available to rent from a few days up to over a year, with the professional assistance of a multilingual team for the entire duration. With its complete property management system combining flexibility, innovation and revenue, Halldis represents the perfect solution for those who want to obtain a revenue from the rental of their properties, without having to deal with the related administrative burdens."
• What proportion of your guests are business travellers and how many are leisure travellers?
"Halldis accommodates more than 3000 guests each month from more than 200 countries: 60 per cent are leisure travellers, 40 per cent are business customers."
• What are Halldis' plans for growth over the next few years?
"In 2016 we have reached a very important goal on the client side: we launched the new guest experience team, with the aim of following the entire guest stay and transforming it into a unique experience. The future main goals are on the property side: to increase our property portfolio."
Source: Serviced Apartment News. www.servicedapartmentnews.com