Ben - City Relay
Employee interview

Behind the scenes: Interview with Ben Charalambous, Head of sales & client success

Written by Pathik Vashi

Ben Charalambous has been a sales professional for over 10 years, previously working at reputable companies such as tech start-up Uber and tech company, Cera. At Cera, Ben led his team to achieve the notable award of ‘Outstanding Health Tech Provider.’ Ben, known for his honest and upfront sales approach with clients, joined City Relay to be a part of a small but growing team that is focussed on delivering the best customer experience for its hosts.
Let’s find out more about Ben!

1.) Tell us a bit about your role at City Relay?

As Head of Sales & Customer Success at City Relay, my role is to oversee the development of new relationships with potential clients, whether they are short let Airbnb hosts or landlords looking to mid or long let their properties within London. My main goal is to ensure each and every client and their property is onboarded smoothly and quickly, allowing us to maximise rental income for all clients from day 1 of working with us.

I also manage the ongoing performance of our property portfolio, making sure each client is looked after by our dedicated team of Account Managers. We strive to ensure our customers are happy with their properties performance – from availability, volume of customer bookings and overall profitability of their property.

2.) What do you enjoy the most about working at City Relay?

This is an easy answer. It has to be the amazing team we have here at City Relay.

We have such a fantastic team of talented, dedicated people from various backgrounds and different skill sets who work collaboratively together – it’s a great culture to work in each and every day.

Each team member is accountable for everything they do, and strives to deliver great results for the business and our clients.

3.) 2020 was a tough year for everyone around the world, with various lockdowns and travel restrictions. How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the short let industry in general?

Lockdowns and ever changing Government rules for tier categories in London, have caused a lot of uncertainty in the lettings industry, with less travel into London having an impact on the number of bookings and average nightly rates.
We saw a really positive resurgence between July and September in 2020 (prior to London being changed to Tier 4) which has given us a great indication that once travel picks back up and lockdowns are lifted, there will be great potential again for short let to thrive.

A number of clients have also changed their rental strategy, moving their previously short let property over to a more stable long let agreement. We provide this long let service in-house so we have been able to quickly move their property over to find long let tenants, reducing void periods in the property and maximising income for our clients.

As expected, we have also seen higher standards required by guests when they stay in our London properties – a real focus on safety, deep cleaning and remote check in’s. All of which, we are proud to say we have excelled at as a business during this time.

4.) What are your predictions for the rest of 2021 within the short let industry specifically?

The period between January and April 2021, will certainly be tough with the current lockdown in place. However, we really believe that once the vaccine is successfully rolled out and we begin to return to normal (fingers crossed!) we will start to see a significant demand again for short let.

When it is safe, and the Government rules allow, we will no doubt see huge demand for our properties in London, from travellers, holiday makers, business travel and those travelling for those long-awaited family reunions.

5.) What is the biggest concern from hosts when short letting their property? How do City Relay help homeowners with this?

Short letting can cause some concern for homeowners, especially at first. We’ve found that perhaps the biggest concern is with how we ensure the property is safe and well looked after by guests that book the property.

We take the safety and security of each of our clients properties very seriously. So, between our reservation & guest teams, we have various procedures in place throughout the booking journey, to ensure the booking is genuine and will not pose any risk to our properties.

We also encourage guests to pick up the keys to the properties from one of our guest team – either at the property itself or at our unique dedicated Reception Spaces within central London locations, meaning we can meet the guests in person too.

6.) What is the best advice you would give to short let hosts or those homeowners who are thinking about becoming a host this year?

At City Relay, we have a fluid team that works between short, medium, and long term rentals to help fulfil your goals of maximising occupancy and income from letting your property. The best advice I can give to a new host is to trust City Relay and our property management capabilities.

We have a huge amount of experience and a fantastic team to manage your property from your initial onboarding, to the housekeeping teams, guest & reservation teams and everyone in between. Your property will be fully managed by the most trusted property management company in London – our review score of 4.8/5 on Trustpilot speaks for itself!

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