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Thomas Cook Holiday Rep

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Name: Hayley Doherty
Age: 21
Type of Rep: Children’s Rep
Tour Operator: Thomas Cook
Countries worked in: Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Ibiza

“My first season was nothing I had anticipated.  The 2 week induction was hard but fun and eventually Rachel and I settled into our roles.”

In the beginning

After leaving school I knew that working as a holiday rep was the job I wanted to do and had looked into courses at local colleges.   I set straight off for South Trafford College in Manchester in the September to firstly do the Leisure and Tourism course then followed by the Overseas Reps Course.  To be honest, if I would have been old enough to go straight on to the latter course ( you had to be 18 before the March)  I wouldn’t have bothered with the Leisure and Tourism course, but I am glad that’s the way it worked out as it gave me the chance to mature a lot and learn loads about the industry and the other roles available.

I chose the Intermediate course even though I had got the G.C.S.E grades to do the higher course as it was only a year long rather than two.  The sooner I got onto the reps’ course the better!!

The Overseas Reps course was part time for 6 months which gave me the opportunity to work part time and save up to go away.  As I wasn’t 19 by the time I was to apply, I was told I would have to be a Children’s Rep rather than mainline and gain 40 hours experience working with kids.

The Interview

I spent a full day at the interview with Thomas Cook.  I was so nervous although I had experience in presenting Welcome Events and Transfers at college in front of a group, I just couldn’t stop shaking when it came to standing up in front of 10-15 strangers to get my dream job!

I had forgotten my props i.e. visual aids I had prepared for my presentations.  When I arrived to see the other people there with huge hand made treasure maps and swords etc it totally threw me.  I spent the next hour watching everyone get up showing off their ‘here’s one a made earlier’ specialities whilst my heart was thumping so hard with pure dread of getting up without anything….when I did get up I thought I’d be honest and just said ” I’ve forgotten my visual aids in a mad panic this morning so you will just have to use your imagination!”  I then continued through the presentations ‘pretending’ to hold up swords, maps and treasure chests!!!! How embarrassing!!!

After doing various team work activities and role plays through the day.  I got the opportunity to say what I thought had gone well and not so well in a one to one interview.  I took this as an ideal opportunity to explain that it had knocked my confidence without my props but was pleased with myself in how I had handled it.  It worked, and the following day whilst in the changing rooms in Topshop I received a call telling me I was on the training course!! After laughing hysterically and screaming down the phone I went to buy loads of clothes to celebrate!!

The induction course

Luckily for me I had been placed on the same training course as my friend Rachel, who I had met at college on both courses and who had gone to the interview with me!  The course was 4 or 5 days long in Blackpool, it was great!!

I shared a house with 5 others, all a lot older but were aiming to be kids reps as well.  I felt a little left out as I thought it a good idea to get the en-suite double room downstairs and they all shared upstairs but we had a laugh.

The course was quite intense but fun and I learnt a lot, my nerves were still getting the better of me and all I could do was hope the trainers would see past that.  They did, and on the last day I was told I would probably be placed in Majorca or Ibiza.  My trainer was lovely and said she had seen right through me, she knew I was bubbly and where I would be best placed.  She advised me the best thing for me to do was to try and come out of my shell on the induction in resort so I wasn’t mistaken for being shy and quiet and placed in the wrong area, as I would be unhappy in a quiet resort.

When back in Manchester I think it was about 2 weeks later when Rachel called me to say she had been placed in Lanzarote.  I crossed my fingers and my prayers came true when I got a call later that today saying I had been placed in Lanzarote too!!!

Working as a Children's Rep

My first season was nothing I had anticipated, the 2 week induction was hard but fun and eventually Rachel and I settled into our roles.  We each had our own apartments but thought it a good idea to move in together and have a spare apartment as she didn’t like being alone at night, and I struggled to get up in the morning!  Ideal!  We were inseparable and if it wasn’t for each other we probably would have gone home within the first 6 weeks but after that we got used to the home-sickness and started to enjoy ourselves!

My 2nd season Rachel and I were placed in Lanzarote again with a few others we knew.  I was so pleased but after arriving I was told there had been a mistake…2 days later I was sent on a ferry to Fuerteventura and said an emotional goodbye to Rachel.  It was probably the best thing that could have happened looking back, I became more independent and more ambitious.  I made it aware that I was interested in promotion and started to work towards a Team Leader role.

Whilst there I met my boyfriend Paul and we applied as a couple to go to Ibiza the following summer.  Ibiza was amazing! I was given more responsibilities to go for Team Leader and met some really cool people.  After a long, tiring summer in Ibiza both Paul and I made the decision to leave a week early and to return back to the UK.  Now I have been back 6 months and although I don’t regret my decision to leave, I am contemplating returning after this year out…it was my dream job and I miss it.  Especially working with the kids.

Moral of the story

No matter how hard you find it, give it at least 6 weeks or you will regret it.  Find out straight away who you can and can’t trust and don’t get involved in the bitchiness!  Take as many home comforts as you can.  Keep in touch with friends whilst away or you will have a nasty shock when you come home!

Try and get as many people to visit whilst you are away, it’s something to look forward to.  Most of all…don’t burn yourself out, but you are only young, you’re in the sun and the envy of all your friends, have an amazing time and make the most of it!!!!

Name: Arron Mitchell
Age: ???
Type of Rep: Family Rep
Tour Operator: Thomas Cook
Countries worked in: Cyprus, Tenerife & Spain

“I loved Paphos and I was really sad to go.  I was being sent to Tenerife for the winter and looked forward to returning for the next season.”

The interview

After applying to Thomas Cook I got an email saying that I had been successful and would have a telephone interview. They called me when I was at the station waiting for the train to Gatwick to take me on holiday!! I stood on the Platform in February, teeth chattering and shivering answering questions like “Give me an example of when you have provided excellent customer service? and how did you go the extra mile?” There was four questions in total after answering these I was invited to an assessment day in London!

I had to prepare a two minute presentation on an excursion of my choice. I chose one that I had been on in Kos and made a nice map and board to take with me!

On arrival at the interview venue I was the first one there. Feeling a bit of a lemon for about two minutes the others started turning up and we all started chatting. It is a good idea to be really outgoing and chatty at this point because I later found out that the assessors were watching us on CCTV! They then showed us into a room where they went through the day in a life of a rep. They also shared some horror stories!!

They put us in groups of five and we had five minutes to come up with a song and dance routine, we chose “We’re all going on a summer holiday!” with this ridiculous routine!

After a short break we had the presentations! I was shaking like a leaf (I had a real fear of public speaking!) I completed the presentation rather too quickly as I was jabbering away! We then had a series of tests to complete.Then we were called into a room one by one and we were assessed on our customer service skills. I was shocked!!! I was confronted by this raving Scottish lunatic screaming at me about her sofa! (you get a briefing of what you do but not what the problem is so you have to really delve to find out what it is) The raving Scottish lunatic ended up being my resort manager at a later resort!!!!

Mine was that the sofa hadn’t been delivered so I arranged an emergency delivery for her for later that afternoon and apologised profusely! (ALWAYS APOLOGISE!!!!)

After that we had lunch and then it was the one to one interviews! Mine were really nice, we talked about my history, what I have done and they ask you questions (mine were similar to the ones in my application form so I gave those again!).

Induction training with Thomas Cook

I knew they were going to call me at some point the next day and couldn’t stop shaking and was terrible. I was at work when I got the call. I was really happy but they needed me to go on the course that Sunday (I think it was a Friday when they called me!) I spoke to my boss and she was fine with it!

That Sunday I boarded a train for a LONG journey to Blackpool.

I didn’t arrive until 8pm. I went to the resturaunt and met two girls. And they were the only ones there. After dinner we went into town for a few drinks. Where we bumped into the rest of the group!!! They were very drunk! WARNING: THOMAS COOK HAVE SPIES EVERYWHERE AND THEY KNEW EVERYTHING WE GOT UP TO! After a few more drinks some of us went back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep ready for the following morning!

The next morning we got a telling off!! Some of the group had been clubbing and invited people back to the hotel and had a party in the rooms! One was sacked on the spot and the other five people were given final written warnings!

WARNING: Ok you aren’t getting paid but the company are providing your meals transport costs and also a lot of time, money and effort into your training. You are an employee of the company so you need to treat it like work and behave! You have an opportunity to let your hair down on the final night!

After that little blip we got to work!

We had a presentation about what to expect and what was going to happen throughout the week.  Sorry it may be a bit vague was over four years ago!!  They go through reports, welcome meetings and how to deal with complaints!

They go over all of these over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We didn’t leave the hotel once and were up late every night with activities and preparing welcome meetings (in twos).

Thursday was the most horrific day! We were woken up at 4am with an emergency call. Most of us legged it down to reception to be told there was an emergency, we were sent into the car park to find a car registration and report back, make, model and colour of the car. Some people went to bed others stayed up chatting before getting an early breakfast and putting finishing touches to welcome meetings! At 9am it is welcome meetings where you have to do a full welcome meeting and deal with two customer service issues.

After lunch we were taken to the ball room where we were told we had three hours to put together a cabaret to perform at 8pm!!! After a quick discussion about what to do we split into groups to get organised! At 8 pm we put on our two and a half hour cabaret!!

After which they told us that we had all passed!!! We went out on the town and got slaughtered, trainers included! Mine got me hammered!!! Finally got to bed at 4am!!! So had been up for 24 hours!!! The next day we checked out and had our final presentation on how to look after yourselves and what to expect. Some of them shared personal experiences.

Then we had to sit in reception while we were called in one by one!

They tell you what you excel at and what you need to work on. They are also telling you where you are going! I was off to Cyprus!!!

Arriving in resort

Me getting to resort was soooo last minute!!! I went out on the Wednesday night with friends and on Thursday they called me to say I was flying to Cyprus on Sunday. I have to admit I was a bit shocked and was expecting a bit more notice! It was a bit of a rush and I had to run around town with a hangover and speak to my two bosses (had two jobs!) and my flat mates. I felt really bad letting them all down but fortunately they were really understanding!

I spoke to Thomas Cook and they told me I was flying out from Manchester so I had to get from Brighton to Manchester for a 9am flight! I explained my problem and they were really helpful and put me up in a hotel. I decided to fly from Heathrow to Manchester as it would be easier than lugging my stuff around on the train (they paid for my flight too! But only because it was cheaper than the train!). When I arrived at Manchester I went to the Thomas Cook desk to pick up my uniform and made my way to the hotel! In the hotel I thought I would try on my uniform to see what it was like and the fire alarm went off, not having time to change I had to stand outside in my uniform!!!

On the flight I sat next to another rep who I didn’t realise that she was until we landed at Larnaca! She is lovely and looked after me for the next few weeks! When we landed we met a team leader who put us on a coach to Paphos (2.5hrs away!!!) When we arrived we were put in a hotel that was not yet open to the public! I wasn’t bothered as the rooms were lovely! The next day we had the day to chill out and get our bearings. My team leader told us later that morning that he was short staffed as some staff had to go home that evening and he would need us to do welcome meetings!

The next day I did my first welcome meeting in front of 350 people!! I was totally honest with them all and I said I had only arrived the day before and I didn’t know where a lot was!!

The next few weeks were really unsettling and I felt a bit lost for a while. I was moved around a lot as well! after a couple of weeks I was told I was going to Limassol to meet the new reps and to go on all the excursions. I joined them a bit late as I had to wait for a rep to come and cover me so i could go on the course. It was really awkward at first because they had the first three days to get to know each other but they soon helped me settle in! The course was great and I had a great time and made some close friends there!

I loved Paphos and I was really sad to go. I was being sent to Tenerife for the Winter and looked forward to returning the next season! I never did go back to Cyprus as a rep though! I Went to Spain the following summer as they were short on experienced reps!