Fancy a summer working in the sunshine make friendships that will last a lifetime and create memories beyond your imagination? Then forget the job profiles and read my no nonsense guide to what the job of a Holiday Rep really entails before you complete that application form.
Strangers and Strange Places
You are likely to be placed in a resort you have never been to; you may never have even visited the country before so you will have a new language and set of local customs to adapt to. I remember arriving in Greece and not being told about the toilet roll rule (I got the message when my bathroom was flooded shortly after!) You might be placed somewhere on your own or have to share an apartment with a group of strangers. This is not the time to be shy, or to be the loudmouth no one wants to be around either. You have to be confident in meeting new people and willing to adapt to their lifestyles but still be yourself. Your working life will be easier the more friends you make in resort.
It is NOT a holiday
Every season I have worked there has been the one rep who has got the shock of their life when they realised they would be working six days a week and up to fifteen hours a day. Tour operators are getting better at making this clearer during the application process but there is still some that slip through the net, oblivious to what awaits them in resort. You may be up at 2am to do an airport run, if you’re lucky you will get some sleep before the welcome meetings commence but if someone has an issue with their room you can forget that snooze! After the welcome meetings you might have time for a quick shower and bite to eat before you are off to guide a bar crawl followed by another airport run at 6am. If you are lucky you will thrive on the fast pace of it all and it won’t even feel like work.
You are now a part of the company brand
Holiday resorts are often close nit communities and anything you do whilst working there that is not seen as appropriate behaviour will quickly go against you and there is always a multitude of noisy fish wives who will ensure your behaviour is reported. Where you eat, drink and sunbathe is all being observed by someone. Alcohol, social media, sleeping around and rudeness are all things that can very quickly affect your reputation in resort or even lose you your job. Be careful; always think before you react and do not get carried away with all those free shots, you still have work in the morning.
You need to think fast and react faster
Okay, so you are not going out to manage the resort you are a new rep but you will still have to make decisions daily that will impact on your job, the company and the guests. Your manager may not be in resort on the day there is a 24hr flight delay, how will you handle it? On any given day you can have to liaise with hoteliers, help guests with queries on subjects you might know nothing about, deal with someone screaming at you in a packed reception or communicate with someone who does not speak your language. You have to learn to read people, ask the correct questions, identify what they really want (don’t assume it is what they ask for!), relate to them in a way they will understand and make the correct decisions on the spot. You have to be the devil’s advocate and think of a solution that keeps everyone involved happy and is realistic! Are you ready to learn these skills?
Everything is easier with a smile
It sounds corny but it is so true. A smile is warm and welcoming; use it to your advantage. No one wants to talk to a grumpy face rep and when you smile everyone smiles. Your guests will not instantly love you, you have to work on that, make them comfortable around you, show an interest in them. If you can learn to do this correctly you can build them an excursion and car hire list for the next two weeks. Remember who is who (I used to write down anything they booked on the rooming lists so I had discussion points for when I saw them again).
The first few weeks will feel like hell
Your resort may close over winter so you could arrive in a ghost town (think zombie apocalypse). It might not be warm yet so you are going to freeze in your currently inappropriate summer dress and flip flops. You may have a strong dislike for someone in the team and you may not take too well to the local food. You will miss your family and friends and wonder what the hell you are doing here. You will feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to learn and start to question if you can do the job after all. When the guests start to arrive you will not be in anyway prepared to be their ‘expert’ and give them a lengthy talk about the area. You will forget everything you learned and crumble in a heap. You got to pick yourself back up, remember why you are here (sunshine,beaches,partying, whatever) and get ready for the fun to start!
The paperwork is immense
You will have to write a report on anything that happens and also when something does not happen. You will receive arrival lists, transfer list, brochure descriptions, rooming lists, health and safety audits, advertising agreements, ticket books and sales liquidation, all needing completed by you. Many companies are now moving to online systems so this has all started to get easier and cut down on the workload. You will still have the maps and excursion lists you have to drag around to all the welcome meetings though.
People loose passports, fall off balconies, go streaking for the day or get arrested. All joys you will have to deal with. Your excursion money can get stolen, people forget to take medications or take illegal substances that are oh so tempting when in another country. Couples will have affairs, get divorced and you may be dragged right into the middle of it all at three in the morning. You may survive a full season without one or they might follow you around like a shot of ouzo.
You are a salesman
No matter what the companies claims are to excellent customer service you are there to sell. You may love it or hate it but it is an inevitable part of the job and how to increase your wages if you learn how to do it correctly. I disliked the selling element, I don’t have salesman chat so I learned as much as possible about what I was selling and focused on the things that I really enjoyed. If you oversell you will scare the guests off, find the balance and a way that works for you. Go on as many excursions as possible, take photographs and write notes. It sounds crazy but if you can tell a guest how many toilet stops there is on a day trip it may be the reason they book with you.
Don’t expect your home comforts
I have lived without a TV, cooker, microwave, toaster and a kettle and internet access. Eat out, read books and speak to people face to face, not on social media. If you can’t cope without these luxuries then you will either have to adapt or spend money when you first arrive in resort. You will likely not get paid for at least a month either so come prepared with plenty money to see you through. I always found that you spend more in the first month as you will likely want to buy a few bits and pieces that you just can’t live without and make where you live more homely. (Packing advice post to follow soon!)
I was undecided whether to in include this here, but it is a possibility and one I was most certainly not prepared for. It is rare and hopefully it is not something you will have to deal with but the reality is that people die on holiday as much as they do at home. Ideally a more experienced manager would deal with it all but it is not always possible and you may be the closest. It will be tragic and heart wrenching no matter what the circumstances are. Work professionally, humanely and don’t say anything stupid. Lead with your heart and fill in the necessary paperwork with compassion and empathy for the circumstances.
The best summer of your life is in the making!
So have you changed your mind? Yes it may look scary and it is but it is also going to be the most amazing experience, something you will cherish forever and may never want to give up. If you have a positive personality, skills and stamina you will fit in perfectly to the role. Your social life at home is nothing to how it is overseas and you will meet a whole new group of friends to guide you through the madness!
Any other advice you would offer or questions you want to ask me? (Look out for my how to land the job post coming soon!)