If you’ve ever been on a package holiday, you’ll remember the smiley, enthusiastic, tanned individual that met you at the airport and introduced you to the resort. This dynamic individual wasn’t just a random weirdo off the street; it was a holiday representative.
Holiday representatives (a.k.a. holiday reps) are employed by companies that offer package holidays. Essentially, these guys provide help, support and guidance to tourists and act as the frontline representative of the holiday company.
At a basic level, holiday representatives are employed to make sure that all customers have a memorable and enjoyable holiday. It’s all about providing first-class customer service and making sure that every tourist’s experience provides full value for money.
If you enter this line of work, you’ll be responsible for picking up holidaymakers from transport hubs, such as airports, ports and train stations, and then escorting them to the hotel or resort where they are staying.
Furthermore, you’ll be in charge of conducting welcome meetings for guests and providing a brief overview of local amenities, attractions and activities.
Once you’ve taken guests to their accommodation, let them know about everything that they can do and sold them a few tours and excursions, it’s not time to kick back and relax by the pool. You’ll also be responsible for dealing with customer queries and resolving problems as and when they arise. As a holiday representative, you’ll be the ‘go-to’ guy or gal for all the tourists in your jurisdiction.
To thrive in this industry, you’ll need to be patient, friendly, well-organised and able to build strong customer relationships with tourists, as this will help to generate repeat business through invaluable word-of-mouth marketing.
Salary & benefits
Basic salaries for holiday representatives are typically quite low. Reps who are just starting out will usually earn between £450 and £525 per month, while senior reps can earn around £600 to £800.
However, by selling tours and excursions, holiday reps can earn a decent amount of commission, which can add a much needed salary boost.
It’s also important to bear in mind that many holiday companies provide reps with free accommodation and meals. You may also get the opportunity to use company cars for personal use. Most employers also provide full-service holiday and travel packages at discounted rates for employees’ families and friends.
Don’t expect to have a regular nine-to-five schedule in this line of work. Working hours tend to be long and irregular. You won’t be tied to a desk though; you’ll be out and about for most of your professional life.
Be prepared for early morning arrivals and late night departures (or vice versa). When things go wrong, you’ll need the composure, tenacity and organisational skills to sort it out. Working under pressure for long, continuous periods is a common occupational hazard.
Most holiday representative jobs are not full-time or permanent. Most people take on short-term contracts in peak tourist seasons and explore other career opportunities in the low season.
The basic entry requirements for holiday representatives are based on personality and practical skills, rather than academic achievement. However, a basic, high school education is usually required. Jobs are open to candidates aged 18 and above.
Fluency in English is essential, but candidates with additional language skills will usually be preferred. Experience of working in a customer service environment is essential. Understandably, you will also need a valid passport and driving licence.
To boost your chances of finding employment, you could even do a recognised qualification (NVQ, SVQ, BTEC or HND) in hospitality, leisure, travel or tourism. Another qualification which is accepted by most employers in the tourism industry is the online Holiday Rep Ticket Diploma.
Training & progression
Entry-level training for holiday representatives is provided in two stages: the first, introductory stage is completed in the UK, while the second, practical stage is held onsite in the resort where the rep will be working. This allows trainees to acclimatise to their new surroundings and make sure that they’re fully prepared for handling groups of tourists at the end of the training programme.
After working as a holiday representative for a few years, opportunities for career progression include becoming a team leader and moving into managerial roles. Eventually, you might even become a resort manager or regional manager with executive responsibility for a team of reps across a large geographical area.
Other people use their experience as a stepping stone for moving into other jobs within the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries.