Lourdes Castillo is the Senior Account Manager at City Relay Solutions. Lourdes joined the company in 2018 and has since been working with all of our clients to ensure a smooth onboarding process and running of the daily operations.
Let’s get to know Lourdes!
Tell us a little about yourself
I was working at a Digital Marketing agency in a lifestyle and travel portal but I was always attracted to the hospitality industry so I decided to get an internship at the same time at Gran Via Capital, looking after luxury serviced apartments in the centre of Madrid. Soon I wanted to change and dedicated entirely to what I was most passionate about which was having direct contact with guests. After almost one year as a Guest Services Agent there, I took an opportunity to work at Element by Westin at Frankfurt Airport. Here, I learned a lot about how a real hotel works including operations, marketing and use of loyalty programs.
I really enjoyed my time at Element, but when the opportunity to join City Relay came up, I couldn’t resist. It was an easy decision – working for a startup with such an amazing progression seemed the right choice for me. In less than a year at the company, I moved to the B2B department, now called City Relay Solutions and we’re proud today to be the leading outsourced operations provider in London.
What do you enjoy the most about working at CRS?
I love the company culture and how everyone is truly involved in its growth and development. I feel like all ideas are heard and taken onboard, so I feel valued and motivated to make the business a success. I feel a lot has changed since I joined and I am grateful for having been part of it.
What has been your biggest achievement at CRS and why?
City Relay Solutions is growing quickly, and there is a lot of activity that I am proud of. There are 2 things that stick out to me as being my biggest achievements so far.
The first is really building a solid base to be able to commercialise our services. So for example, setting up departmental internal standards and processes for how we do everything including client communication, operational procedures and client reporting. We work really closely with each of our clients to make sure the service we provide is bespoke to their needs, building their trust and loyalty in the process.
The second achievement of mine is helping to set up our bespoke tech platform called DRIVE. We recognised the need for operational professionalisation and efficiency in the short let market, so our platform was designed to improve service quality at a cost-effective price, helping our clients achieve their goals of business growth.
How has the COVID pandemic affected the industry and when do you hope to see this recover?
Covid has undoubtedly affected all industries and ours has been one of the worst hit. We all hope to see “normality” return by next spring, especially after the latest vaccine announcements.
However, travel trends have already changed with less seasonality, and an increase in last minute bookings. In summary, being flexible and prepared for the unexpected seems to be the antidote to survive this unprecedented crisis. We’re seeing companies changing direction, offering new services and being more flexible with their booking terms and conditions to suit the market and customer needs. For example, accepting last minute bookings or asking for longer stays to guarantee a certain occupancy level of properties.
We are seeing an increase in the willingness to outsource operations as companies look for ways to reduce overheads, improve their service and guarantee the flexibility they need now more than ever.
What do you see in the future for the property management industry?
As mentioned above, flexibility will be vital. The industry is increasingly competitive with traditional hotel chains stepping into short-lets, and online travel agencies offering a whole range of accommodation options.
No-one was expecting this global pandemic and how long the whole would suffer lockdowns and restrictions – it’s forced everyone to take a step back, reflect on their offerings, and change the way they do business. So we as an industry should always be prepared to reinvent our offer and services to the market demands.
Technology is already playing a fundamental role in this change and it will continue to do so. In our case Drive and Breezeway have allowed us to improve our quality of service, give our clients visibility and transparency of their daily activities and build trust.
Find out more about Lourdes and the services that City Relay Solutions offer by watching this short video.