So I know what most of you think, because you ask me all the time : ‘’Oh my days, looking for holidays all day, that would be my dream job, it must be so easy, sat at home all day? ‘’
Ok let’s get one thing straight, working in travel is an absolute pleasure, most of the time, so I am not here to say otherwise. I am just going to show you, that like you in your job, we have to work extremely hard, and above and beyond what a normal customer service role entails. Here is my average day (last Friday to be precise) ………
Let’s start at the beginning, I wake up, and grab my phone for a quick check, this includes the usual facebook stalk etc, but also a thorough check of my emails and business social media accounts, in case something urgent has happened in my sleep. Hopefully this is not the case, and today is incident free. I then get up & get myself a 7 year old , and my husband, ready for school/work. Me personally, I like to do all my household jobs before I sit at my desk, which is usually around 8:45am.
Once at my desk, I start to work through my enquiries, from new customers and existing, a written list of tasks is an agent’s best tool, distractions pop up often and out of the blue. Today I have: 3 new holiday enquiries, 2 enquiries to change existing holidays, 3 emails from my administration team to chase documents, and a hours training session from a new tour operator. I need to try and fit this in before the school run.
Firing the laptop up, I start tapping away at my keypad for the first enquiry, I’m also now on hold to one of the tour operators for documents on an existing booking. This first enquiry really needs a free child place to fit in budget, so I’m going through several search engines at once, being an agent you become submersed in holidays and airport codes, I feel like to us, it’s like the code of the Matrix. Just in the midst of finding a good deal, the phone is answered, so I have to leave the details, and move back to the administration page of my booking system, right that’s that sorted, paperwork en route, now back to that free child place search…….
Ok, so I have 2 perfect options including everything the client needs and a free child place on each holiday, typing them up to send to the client, the phone rings : ‘’Hi Rhiann, I have booked with ‘’xyz holidays’’ to fly with Ryanair and I’ve heard they have cancelled several flights, can you help me , I can’t get through to them now and I’m panicking’’ This is hard, I have to explain that I can’t speak for the company she has used, and for her to keep trying and I’m sure it’ll be ok. I hate this part, there is literally nothing I can do. I have also heard the news about Ryanair, and been through all my bookings to make sure I have contacted all of my passengers that were affected, and changed their details if required. I just can’t do anything if you book with someone else, but I try where I can.
So the email quotes with free kids offers are out, and I’ve managed to get the other enquiries done and sent out too (a city break to Budapest and a Lapland day trip). I’ve also managed to work out what is needed to change the other holidays, so reply to the passengers their options via text (they’re both at work so it’s better for them this way). My facebook page pings with another message not long after, another passenger is travelling next month: ‘’ Hey Rhiann, we’re off soon, I’m a bit stressed about the paperwork, someone at work says I have to check in for the flights, is that what you said you’d do for us, sorry to bother you’’. I reply ‘’ Hi, yes I’m doing all your paperwork, 2 weeks prior to travel, you just sit back and relax, I’ve got this, you just make sure you buy some suncream lol ‘’ Part of booking with any reputable agent is that they should hold your hand through all the little things, like boarding cards, advance passenger information (API), visas etc. I would rather someone message me, than sit and worry, that’s what I’m here for, and unlike shops I don’t ‘’close’’ so it makes it easy for passengers to contact me this way, as well as apps like Whatsapp too.
Looking at the clock and it’s 1:17pm, whoops I’m overunning, being a great multi tasker I manage to shove a cheese sandwich in my mouth, whilst pegging a ‘’white wash’’ out (yes I’m a bad mum and forgot to do the school shirts yesterday) I grab a bag of crisps and a drink, and log in for todays training: A lovely new operator that does attraction passes and tickets, some of which I fancy – Universal Studios new Volcano Bay water park – & some of which make me itch – A Great white shark cage dive!!. Making lots of notes, I try to absorb as much information as possible, I love learning about new travel products, luckily the world is a big place, so it’s very hard to get bored at this job, as it’s constantly moving and I like to keep my finger on the pulse.
Checking my emails after the training, I see I have one from a previous passenger, thanking me for a lovely holiday, and asking me to look for the next one, I manage to get a quick phone call in with them, pre school run, and make sure I take full notes of what they are after: A multicenter in Sri lanka, wildlife focussed, then a chill week in the Maldives – my cup of tea! I know exactly where to look for this one, saw some great offers with a reputable supplier last week. Anyway I’ve got to dash & put my earphones in for the trek up to school to get the boy – this is my exercise for the day!
After doing the spellings, homework, and reading on our return, I let the boy have some down time on the games console (he still insists on telling me every little detail of his Minecraft building though – that game!! ) . This is the time I use to make some dinner, and have a cuppa and usually just read some daily news. Today however, I’ve decided to call the Sri Lanka operator, and they’re putting me together a fabulous itinerary for what my passengers are after, they are emailing it over too, so I can show them all the tour details to look over fully. I can admit here that I do get jealous when I see some of the places my passengers are going, I’m only human, & I have a bucket list longer than my arm. On saying this though, I am always genuinely happy to see people off on new adventures, to see their photos, and hear feedback on their return.
My husband is back now. So we grab dinner, talk over the day’s events, and as he goes off to get the boy ready for bed, I log on to my laptop again. It’s now gone 7pm, but this is my busiest time, as many parents put their kiddies down, and jump onto their own emails and facebook etc for the first time that day. The free child quotes I sent have been looked through, and the passengers have messaged me to book one of them on a low deposit. They just have a few more questions, which I answer, then I call them to get all the names and get the holiday booked. The question they first asked – and many do – is how do I get paid. This is how it works :
.When I make a booking, the cost is always what you see and agree, no hidden costs/fee’s.
.The tour operator pays a set commission to head office (Midcounties Co-op) & I get a percentage of this roughly a month before you travel.
.The rest is used to provide full ABTA/ATOL protection, and a administration team at head office.
.This ensures I always have your best interests at heart, you go and enjoy, you book again or refer people to me, I get more bookings, and the cycle keeps going.
So there you go, it’s a winner winner chicken dinner deal, you can also earn Midcounties Co-op points through booking through me, which my customers love, and although I would never say I am the cheapest (sometimes I am though) the nature of travel is to get what you pay for. Because I deal directly with you, I gain as much information as I can to match your needs with my wealth of industry knowledge and experience (nearly 20 years now!) . I also am available at this time of night, on a local or mobile number, which is another perk of my services.
So back to today, that’s another family all sorted now, more happy customers with something to look forward too. I reply to a few other questions that have collated in my emails, then I settle down for some box set binge time with the husband. Two episodes in……. ‘’Bada-ping’’….
Husband ‘’Is that your email’’
Me ‘’yup’’ – heaves off of sofa
Husband ‘’ off you go then, to the laptop – saving the planet one holiday at a time’’
….. we laugh, the boxsets got to wait a few min, there’s no working 9 till 5 here, now what’s the time difference in Sri Lanka again……………….