“Offering quality, professionalism and an amazing alternative stay experience is what we do at UPSTREET,” says Konstantinos Kiamos.
Founded some five years ago, UPSTREET’s portfolio consists of properties located in the great metropolitan area of the Greek capital city. The company’s portfolio is a mix of residential apartments and aparthotel units, all prepared to be exclusively leased in the short-term rental market.
“Each UPSTREET apartment is very thoughtfully selected and should meet a very extensive list of criteria,” Konstantinos tells GTP Headlines, adding that only 1 of every 20 properties audited ends up entering the company’s portfolio which shows UPSTREET’s interest in quality and not quantity.
“We offer property owners the ability to be part of a selective high-performing portfolio,” he adds.
In this interview, Konstantinos introduces UPSTREET, shares his thoughts on the market since the Covid-19 pandemic and tells of the company’s next goals, which include plans to expand the company’s alternative stay experience in new all year round destinations in Greece.
“Our guests, every time they choose a new location or a new property, can expect to have the same level quality stay… an UPSTREET stay,” he says.
- GTP: Konstantinos, please tell our readers a bit about yourself. Share some career highlights with us.
Konstantinos Kiamos: I come from a background in engineering. Having studied Civil Engineering in the National Technical University of Athens, I did my master’s degree in the University College London in the field of Construction and Project Management. Since my graduation I have been practicing engineering and specializing on building projects and real estate markets. This led me to co-found an engineering firm (3NK Engineers & Architects). I have worked with major financial institutions and surveyed thousands of real estate properties. I have also been in charge of the design and construction of many reconstruction projects as well as real estate developments. The last 6 years I am CEO of UPSTREET, a short-term apartment rental agency in Athens.
- GTP: When did Upstreet begin operations and what was the inspiration?
Konstantinos Kiamos: I co-founded a vacation rentals venture in 2016, which, after an initial fund-raising round, transformed to UPSTREET in 2017. The idea was in place for almost 3 years before operations took off. We believed that capitalizing on our experience in real estate and engineering to enter the travel industry through the emerging sector of vacation rentals was more than relevant. And also the timing felt really right.
While traveling around the world, I realized that the hospitality sector was about to be disrupted. It was clear to me that traditional accommodations could not meet the demands of young travelers who needed more authentic experiences and would grow to become the market standard pretty soon. However, short-term rentals were illegal in Greece at the time and until November 2015, so the idea was put on hold for a while. When we eventually entered the short-term rental market we noticed a lack of quality and professionalism and this is exactly what we tried to serve, which remains relevant until today.
- GTP: What differentiates Upstreet from other property management companies?
Konstantinos Kiamos: UPSTREET offers stylish and professionally managed short-term rentals that provide a boutique hotel standard experience to the guest. We operate with hotel standards while we are spread in multiple city locations. Our guests, every time they choose a new location or a new property, can expect to have the same level quality stay… an UPSTREET stay. We do that by focusing on standardizing our product and making great use of technology. Moreover, using our extensive experience and background, the majority of UPSTREET properties are prepared with care and detail by our team of experts. This, besides offering a great guest experience, results to a higher portfolio performance for our owners.
- GTP: What services does Upstreet offer and what is the company’s unique selling point (USP)?
Konstantinos Kiamos: We offer our guests an amazing alternative stay experience with the most possible flexibility. We provide them with the flexibility of more space, the flexibility to cook a meal, to work remotely, and of course to choose how long they want to stay. We accommodate stays from 1 day up to a year with a flexible pricing model that meets every guests’ needs.
We offer our owners the ability to be part of a selective high-performing portfolio and get the most out of their property. We provide a 360-degree solution, starting from the initial evaluation of the property and consultation, through the design and renovation, to the full property management. While we focus on the short-term rental market, we are the only local agency with systems in place that can accommodate mid-term reservations as well. We successfully combine those two and with the use of in-house cutting-edge technology we achieve maximum profitability. Our numbers are by far the top among all competitors in the market.
- GTP: How many properties are in your portfolio and where are they located?
Konstantinos Kiamos: Currently we have a little more than 100 exclusive properties in our portfolio located in Athens, Greece. Our portfolio is a mix of residential apartments and aparthotel units, all prepared to be exclusively leased in the short-term rental market. We cover the great metropolitan area, which means that UPSTREET properties are located in the city’s historical center as well as in the northern suburbs and the southern waterfront suburbs. We are very actively expanding our portfolio and we expect this number to exceed 200 properties by the end of the year. We also promote a selective portfolio of villas on the island of Crete and we plan to open in 1 more destination next year.
- GTP: Does Upstreet have a specific screening process in order for a property to be added to its portfolio?
Konstantinos Kiamos: Each UPSTREET apartment is very thoughtfully selected and should meet a very extensive list of criteria. Location and quality are in the top of this list. Apart from this, we make a very thorough audit before deciding to add a property in our portfolio. Only 1 of every 20 properties audited will end up in our portfolio. We want to make sure that every new property will be equal to a certain level of quality and performance. Keeping this kind of a selective portfolio increases the added value we make for each owner who decides to work with us.
- GTP: With regard to Greek tourism, how do you see the sector progressing this year?
Konstantinos Kiamos: It is clear that 2022 will be the first post-Covid year and a great one. We see an amazing increase in bookings, ADR and new inquiries and all market data have a positive increase. At the moment, the travelers’ volume in Athens has reached post pandemic numbers and there is an outlook that the months following will exceed 2019 figures. For the islands, the figures are even better and in my view it is clear that 2022 will be a record year. However, it will be a challenging year as well. After 2 pandemic years with a massive impact in the travel sector I am not sure if the Greek travel industry is prepared to accommodate this huge increase in inbound tourism as the sector is definitely understaffed.
- GTP: In your opinion, how much has the industry changed since the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you say are the biggest challenges for the industry?
Konstantinos Kiamos: It is broadly expected that the pandemic will leave a mark in the industry and there is a lot of talk about that. How much has the industry changed? In my opinion, we cannot be sure yet and this year will be a good reference for what comes next. However, there are certain points of change that seem to be proven solid and for sure the vacation rental industry is one of them and is on the win side. The travel industry is a very crisis sensitive market and Covid-19 was not the first crisis we faced nor will it be the last. What I get as an outcome from this is that vacation rentals have been proven to be very resilient to this crisis, for many reasons. Following this, I expect more investors to be interested in the sector in the years to come and of course more fight-back from hoteliers, including them entering the market.
- GTP: What message would you like to pass on to potential customers reading this interview?
Konstantinos Kiamos: I would like to encourage potential travelers to explore UPSTREET stays, find the stay that can match their style and needs and to have a lifetime experience in the best Athenian neighborhoods.
For owners or real estate investors interested in Athens I would like to introduce the exclusive UPSTREET 360 services and highlight our leading performance and position in the market.
- GTP: What’s next for Upstreet? What are your future plans? Which destinations do you plan to “target” next?
Konstantinos Kiamos: We plan to strengthen our position in Athens with more properties, neighborhoods and aparthotels. We strongly believe that Athens’ potential is huge and there are a lot more to come the years following. We also actively looking to strengthen our position in Crete and new destinations as well, with interest mostly in all year round destinations.
UPSTREET’s portfolio of properties can be seen here.