|Maxim and Gavin at Fountain House Apartments|
As a specialist travel company, we strive to be the best at what we do and have gained a reputation for being a leading agency in our niche sector. So this Summer, we brought on board university student, Maxim Chambers to learn more about what we do and how we do it while gaining industry insight and work experience.
Maxim quickly became a key contributor to the overall team effort and brought his energy and creativity to the office every day. Here's what he had to say about his time at Check-in-London...
Name: Maxim Chambers
University: University of Plymouth
Course: Business Management
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you wanted to join Check-in-London.com as an apprentice?
I've lived in London for the past 8 years, but last September I started my first year of university in Plymouth. Approaching then end of my GCSE's at secondary school I was heavily involved in cycling. It originally started from cycling to Richmond Park on an old mountain bike and being impressed with how far I had cycled. My fitness improved, I bought a road bike and I joined the London Dynamo cycling club, which one of my friends was already in. During My A-level period I was regularly cycling to Windsor with my club. Because of this I managed to get a job as a cyclist baggage carrier for HomeRun London. A project designed to help people run/jog home without having to carry their belongings during the peak of the 2012 Olympics.
I am studying Business Management at university because I found that my entrepreneurial way of thinking often left me thinking up business ideas, yet I did not have the experience or knowledge to know how to set up one. I really wanted to learn the fundamentals of how businesses work. Although gaining insight from university modules, I hadn't had much experience in the actual business world. I applied for an internship at Check-in-London for the summer and my extensive knowledge from cycling around London definitely helped me when speaking to clients. This was my first time actually working in a formal environment.
Describe some of the main tasks you were given?
Check-in-London are accommodation specialists for serviced apartments in London. People who need accommodation in London will enquire with us. Often they know what they want and where they want it, but a lot of the time they are completely new to London. We can provide them with our personal touch and local knowledge.
I was given my own leads to deal with. These where either phone calls or email enquiries of customers wanting a serviced apartment in London. After getting the information and their requirements, I would get to work and begin to narrow down options for them. Although we have many apartments spread across London, you'll be surprised how few have air conditioning. Then again, when is London ever known for its sunny weather? As well as helping customers find their ideal accommodation, I also created some very interesting reports for the business. This helped visualise all sorts of data such as average time spent with customers to working out the percentage chance of them booking per location.
Did you find any aspect of your apprenticeship particularly enjoyable and/or challenging?
At first, as with any job, getting use to the software and way things are done took a bit of time to learn. This was probably the worst part because I wanted to get straight into it but knew it takes time. It's so frustrating looking back at your first week and realising how slow and inexperienced you were. Probably the most challenging, but also the most useful, was learning how to keep potential clients engaged and make them book with us. It's a competitive market out there so having that useful local knowledge of London is always reassuring to customers who are about to part with large amounts of money for a holiday or business travel.
What help and support did you receive as an apprentice?
Throughout my time at Check-in-London I was working alongside Gavin, who knows this industry inside out. If I was ever stuck finding someone accommodation, he would just know off the top of his head which apartment operator would have something available.
Do you feel like you gained any new skills during your time at Check-in-London?
I’d like to consider myself a friendly and confident person, my time at Check-in-London definitely improved my B2B and B2C phone manner and helped me write better and more engaging emails to customers. These are essential skills I would consider important in any business and is something that can’t really be taught in schools. I see myself as an entrepreneur and working alongside Gavin, who set up the business from scratch in 2009, meant that the advice, tips and support I received were invaluable!
Do you think your experience here will benefit your future career?
Any experience is good for a career. Normal qualifications for jobs usually don’t do it these days. Almost every job wants you to have some sort of experience. This is why placement years at university are so highly recommended. My experience here hasn't just given me that little extra to put on a CV, but I have genuinely gained experience that is adaptable to any future job, or even start my own business; which I am currently working on and hoping to do simultaneously while at university.
Any advice for future apprentices looking to come on board with us?
Make sure you are familiar with London. Go out and be a tourist for the weekend. Rent a Boris bike and cycle around. Knowledge of London is key! Don’t worry that you don’t know every property we have, overtime you will get to know them, maybe even view them. Some will make your jaw drop. I have made a guide about our properties in Mayfair to help you with any enquiries. (You’ll be surprised how many want to stay in Mayfair)
Thank you for your hard work and dedication Max and all the best with your future ventures!