16 questions about the job of a holiday rep/hotel rep/holiday representative, and 16 honest answers
Working where others spend their holiday. For many people, working as a holiday rep is an absolute dream job. Maybe you have thought about doing a season and don’t really know what to expect? This interview should give you a little insight. Our interview partner has worked as a holiday rep in different destinations for 10 years and doesn’t regret a minute of it – even if it’s not always a dream job.
Holiday or work. How exhausting is the job really?
It really depends on the destination. In some seasons I was working up to 14 hours a day, in others I finished work shortly after lunch. Usually, due to the number of guests, you usually have a lot more to do on short and medium-haul destinations than on long-haul destinations. The basic working hours are between 09:00 – 13:00 and 16:00 – 19:00, depending on your hotel package. Sometimes you also support the airport team with the arrivals and departures or help out in the office.
When do I know in which country I will work in? Can I choose the destination?
For your first destination you should not be very picky. You will be assigned a destination by the personnel department. Even though it might not be your dream destination, you will certainly have a good time and have a lot of great experiences. After only a few months on the job you will receive the “wish list”. This list contains all destinations where holiday rep jobs are available. From this list you choose 3-5 destinations and rank them from 1 to 5. You do not choose the country (e.g.: Greece or Turkey), but directly the holiday region (e.g.: Rhodes, Kefalonia, Antalya, Bodrum, Cancun, Bali etc.)
As soon as all requests have been submitted, the human resources department plans the destination allocation. The allocation of the destination areas depends on your wishes – but also on experience, age, your performance evaluation and your language skills. There are destinations that are on the wish lists of almost all holiday reps every year (e.g.: Bali). Of course, the chances of being assigned there are not as good as for destinations where many reps are needed. (e.g.: Greece). You will normally receive the assignment in September for the winter and/or the next summer season.
How many hotels do you normally look after and how do you get from hotel to hotel?
In the bigger destinations like Turkey and Greece you might only be responsible for one hotel. These are hotels with many arrivals, where it is necessary that a rep is available several hours a day. This has the advantage that you can concentrate on one hotel and are not under a lot of time pressure. But it is also possible that you will be in charge of up to 20 hotels and you will spend the whole day driving from one hotel to the next. This has the advantage that you can get to know many hotels and very likely get a company car. Of course, the time pressure is higher in this case. For short distances between the hotels, you get a scooter or you visit the hotels by bike or on foot.
As a holiday rep, do I also have the possibility to go to the beach and join the excursions for free?
Yes, definitely. At the beginning of the season, in the first few weeks, the tour operator sends you on as many excursions as possible so that you can get to know the products and sell them well. You will have one day off per week, and in most destinations an additional half day. If time allows, you can go to the beach during your lunch break or if you like to get up early, for sunrise. And of course on your day off.
What about the salary? Is the stress worth it financially?
Of course I am not allowed to give any information about the exact salary. You get a basic monthly salary transferred to your account and you can earn extra money by selling excursions. The commission depends on your hotel package, the destination and your sales skills.
Where do I live as a rep? Can I choose my accommodation?
The accommodation will be provided by the tour operator for you. I have lived in a hotel room, in a staff room, alone in an apartment on the fifth floor, with a colleague in a large apartment, in a remote bungalow and in a small house within a hotel complex. Where you live and whether you share the apartment with a colleague, you usually find out when you arrive in your destination. If you don’t like the accommodation, you can also look for an alternative accommodation on site. For the rent you will receive a small financial support from your employer, the rest you pay yourself.
Did you prefer to live in a hotel or in an apartment?
Personally, I would always prefer a flat to a hotel.
Living in a hotel has the advantage that you don’t have to worry about anything. Normally, you get your laundry done, you eat in the restaurant daily and can help yourself from the buffet. Most of the times, your room gets cleaned and you are allowed to use the sports facilities and the pool of the hotel. Moreover, in the hotel, you stay in a room by yourself. For the first season, this is quite cool.
The big disadvantage is the missing privacy and that you have barely any possibilities to invite friends over (for a nice barbecue for example). Most hotels do not allow visitors.
In an apartment you are free and not bound to meal times. You have more responsibilities and in the end, more work with cleaning, buying food etc. And it can happen that you share the flat with a colleague with whom you might not get on very well.
What about overtime?
You will finish earlier on some days (especially in low season) and work longer on other days in high season. Overtime will not be paid. You are finished with your work when you are finished J
What further training opportunities are there? Will my performance be evaluated?
Normally you will receive various training courses during the season. In sales-strong destinations, there may be weekly sales training sessions. Normally your manager will visit your welcome meetings at least three times a season and give you weekly feedback. Three times per season you will receive a rating from your manager, which is mainly based on guest satisfaction and sales. There are several opportunities for promotions. However, the best way to get information about this is to contact the respective tour operator.
Now let’s be honest: Do people really complain that much on holiday?
Unfortunately yes… But most complaints are solved relatively quickly by changing hotel rooms, an additional room cleaning or a little “goodie” to the room. Of course there are also complaints where the guests drive you to the brink of despair. These special cases are relatively rare, thank God. Unfortunately, these guests are the ones that will remain in your memory for a long time. Per season I always had 2-3 nightmare guests whose names I still remember *laughs*. In the end, there are people you simply cannot satisfy even if you upgrade them for free to the presidential suite with a private butler.
Do you manage to stay calm at all times?
Of course, sometimes you have to pull yourself together. It is very important that no matter how ridiculous the complaint seems to you, a suitable solution for the customer has to be found. Everyone has a different view of things. Things that are only trivialities to me disturb other people so massively that they think their holidays are spoilt completely.
What I find very difficult to do is when people are ignorant of the country they are guests in. Once we had a very heavy storm on the Maldives and we had to accommodate guests in the capital for one night, because the seaplanes were not able to fly due to the heavy storms. The customers complained that they had to be in the same boats as the locals and had to inhale the exhaust gases of the capital. Other people have complained that in front of their luxury hotel in Zanzibar locals are living in mud huts. This disturbs their holiday enjoyment. I would like to issue a life-long travel ban to such people.
Now something private: What about love? Is a relationship even possible in this job?
More like difficult. I don’t know any reps who do this job and have a steady relationship at home. You are on the road for too long. But there are exceptions: A couple I know, met during the season and have been traveling the world together in this job ever since. Other colleagues have fallen in love with a local guy and got married on the spot. So there are possibilities, but those who like me have changed their destination every season, have hardly any chance of a functioning relationship.
Are there many emergencies in the holiday destination? Do I have to take care of them as a tour guide?
That again depends on the destination. In small destinations you are expected to take care of emergencies, for example: escorting clients to the doctor, providing translation assistance and visiting clients in hospital. In larger destinations, there is one person or an emergency team to take care of cases.
What was the worst moment in your time as a tour guide?
In my last season I had to identify a woman who had died of a heart attack. Her husband was over 70 years old and did not speak a word of English. This is actually not part of the duties of a rep, but since I was the only German speaking rep at that time, it unfortunately stuck with me. I felt so sorry for the man, but was happy that I could help.