Ever thought about being a Holiday Rep? Don't know where to start? Nervous about the assessment day or about leaving home? Sian has recently left Britain for a life in the sun and she reveals all from the initial application to settling in abroad! Here's what she has to say-
I am working for the tour operator Cosmos Holidays. The application form was on the internet on the Monarch website and was a straightforward application form. It took a while for them to get back to me but I eventually received an email from them in March inviting me to an assessment day. The email didn't give much away about what was going to happen at the interview, apart from the fact that their was going to be team exercises, a one to one interview and a presentation that we had to prepare on either our home town or a Cosmos destination.
On Saturday 15th March I left my home town to travel to Birmingham by train for 9am, to say I was nervous was definitely an understatement. The interview was situated in a hotel in the city centre and it was really enjoyable (which makes a change!) Cosmos is unlike any other big tour operators such as Thomas Cook or Thomson where they are X Factor style eliminating you through stages throughout the day which puts a lot of pressure on you. With Cosmos it is very much a family friendly operator where you can go through the whole interview process with no eliminations, so definitely a more relaxed atmosphere!
The assessment day consisted of four parts. During the first part they spoke to us about the business giving us lots of information, and about all the job roles they had on offer. They then split us into small groups for the team exercise of building an egg tower. The egg tower was a great way to help us relax and get to know each other more even if there was a time limit, although my team didn't win with the tallest free standing tower we had a great team with everybody contributing and having a laugh. After the egg tower challenge they split the room in half into two separate rooms where we had our presentations – it really does help to have key cards and visual aids as you think you know it but when you stand up at the front your mind does tend to go a bit blank! Plus visual aids show you have put a bit of effort in and helps to not bore the audience that you're presenting to. After your presentations you then have the one to one interviews. They lasted about 30minutes, and examples of customer service that you have given in all areas whether it be positive or negative are a great thing to have! All in all the interview lasted around 5 hours, but we did have refreshment breaks throughout the day.
After the interview I didn't have to wait long to find out whether I had been successful or not. They did advise that they would let us know by the next week. However, two days later on the Monday I received a phone call in the afternoon advising me that I was successful, woohoo! I was definitely on a high for the next week with excitement levels over the roof!
Before coming out to my base I had 3 training courses. The first course lasted a whole day in the Luton Monarch office. This was training for great customer service with a training course called World Host – all Cosmos and Monarch staff have to train for this though, not just holiday reps. It was a fun day meeting new people and learning tips on how to improve customer service. The second training course was situated in Portugal. This course lasted for 4 whole days and was very intense. We were given lots of information about the job, what to expect, things that could happen, roleplays, group work, and of course welcome meetings. As well as this they gave us the information of what they expected from us as a rep such as uniform guidelines, and following company procedures. We were given a lot of paperwork and wrote pages of notes and I can say that we were all exhausted and a bit brain frazzled after those 4 days!
After the training course in Portugal I had 12 days before I flew out away from all my friends and family for 6months. Those 12 days had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. These 12 days were filled with me seeing all my friends to say my goodbyes and to have a good catchup before I left. As well as fitting in my friends I had to contend with the dreaded packing. Packing is stressful enough for a two weeks holiday but packing to live abroad for 6 months is a totally different story! Luckily the trusty web always has the answers, plus I was able to take 30kg of allowance which meant I could take more than one suitcase! So with two suitcases and having googled about what things to take abroad for a summer season I was well under way, which definitely made things a lot easier.
Then before I knew it, Sunday 13th April arrived. The day where I was leaving for the airport to travel to Lanzarote for my next training course, the day where I left all my friends, family and boyfriend behind, and yes, there was tears at the airport when we said our goodbyes! Luckily I wasn't on my own as travelling with me was my fellow rep, who I'd be sharing the 6 months with.
Whilst in Lanzarote I had similar training to Portugal, but it was more resort specific to my base so it was slightly more helpful, it was tiring, but great fun as I got to meet the reps of Lanzarote who I shadowed to get more of an insight. The shadowing of the reps consisted of helping with the airport duties and going round to the hotels for welcome meetings with them and doing duties. Although I was only in Lanzarote for just over a week I had a great time.
It then came to the moving day on Monday 21st April where me and my fellow rep Claire left Lanzarote with our manager and travelled to our base of Corralejo in Fuerteventura. During that day we travelled around both of our resorts with an orientation at the airport and finding out where we were living for the 6 months. The apartment seemed ok at first but when we were left alone as the manager returned to Lanzarote we took a closer look and it was disgusting with how dirty it was. That was a real low with just me and Claire in a place we had never been to before being left alone not knowing anything. But, we ploughed on and did a major clean of the apartment and we then unpacked as we had clean cupboards to put our things in!
During the 11 free days we had before starting work me and Claire went on a few excursions to gain product knowledge and explored our resorts to find out what was there and the facilities ect. One of my all time favourite excursions so far has to be Oasis Park where I got kissed by a sea lion! Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity! My best highlight for me so far has to be getting my first sale on my second day for an excursion, that was such a great feeling!
Even though I live in Corralejo, my resort is Caleta which is based on the east coast of the island about 45minutes drive from the apartment.
It was quite difficult to leave my friends and family behind but I have settled into life out here really well and am enjoying it. Although I don't have wi-fi in the apartment which was difficult at first, I can easily pop down to one of the café’s along the main strip to skype and check facebook so I am still connected! During the first week here it was strange to think how I'm going to cope living abroad for 6 months away from what I know and love, but I have settled in really well and have met some great people.
My advice to people wanting to become a rep is know that it isn't just fun in the sun. It is hard work, but it does pay off and you can have fantastic experiences and meet some great people. If you get knocked down by one tour operator don't just give up, if it is something you really want to do keep trying. Although you may not think it, home comforts are a great way to keep yourself going. Pack pictures of your friends and family to put up on your bedroom walls as small things like that go a long way.
A big thank you to Sian for giving us this insight and we wish you the best of luck in your new job- have lots of fun and keep us updated! 🙂
Want to work abroad but a job as a Holiday Rep isn't for you? Why not try Cabin Crew? You can read all read about why it can be your dream job, and top tips for your assessment day. You can also purchase my book Life of a Hostie: Everything you Need to Know to Become Cabin Crew which provides comprehensive details on everything from securing a job to undertaking your training.
Do you have experience of working as a Holiday Rep? I would love to hear from you!