Holiday Representative

The Job and What's Involved

Maldives HolidayHoliday representatives look after guests at resorts, usually abroad, ensuring that their holidays are enjoyable and safe. They are also known as reps, resort representatives, overseas representatives, family representatives or customer service representatives.

Their duties can include some or all of the following:

  • Meeting guests as they arrive at the airport and taking them, often by coach, to their accommodation.
  • Holding welcome meetings soon after arrival to give out information on health and safety and departure details, and on things to do and see during their stay.
  • Selling the company's day trips and other excursions.
  • Collecting and processing payments received.
  • Answering questions and giving advice.
  • Helping with problems such as lost passports or illness.
  • Coping in difficult situations, such as when flights are delayed or baggage does not arrive.
  • Arranging car, taxi or ski hire.
  • Checking health and safety in hotels and other tourist accommodation.
  • Completing paperwork to record any complaints, accidents, problems with accommodation or illness.

The work involves contact with hotel staff, local restaurants, coach companies, tour guides, taxi companies, medical staff or the police.

There are some specialist jobs:

  • Children's representatives, who look after guests' children and organise and supervise activities and games for them.
  • Transfer reps (employed by large tour operators), who spend most of their time accompanying guests to and from airports at holiday destinations.
  • Club or young persons' reps, who specialise in working with guests between the ages of 18 and 30.
  • Ski reps and reps specialising in other sports and activities.
  • Campsite reps, whose duties include erecting and dismantling tents.
  • Over-50s reps.

Working hours are long and variable. A rep normally has one day off a week, but may still be on call to deal with emergencies.

The work is mostly seasonal, with summer being the busiest period. Some reps also work in winter sun destinations or ski resorts. The summer season normally starts in April and finishes in September, while the winter season is from October to March.

The work may be both indoors and outdoors, depending on where guests need help. Conditions vary according to the location and climate of the resort.

Reps normally have to wear a uniform. They may be away from home for months at a time.

Starting salaries are normally around £450 to £500 a month (£5,400 to £6,000 a year) with accommodation provided. Many do the job for the lifestyle, rather than the pay.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Holiday representatives are employed by tour operators, ranging from small, specialist firms to large international companies. Most reps work abroad, although some are employed in UK holiday resorts.

Most are contracted for a season's work only. However, if a rep has worked well, they may be offered winter work at a different resort. It is possible to express a preference for a particular country, but reps must be prepared to go wherever there is a vacancy.

Vacancies crop up regularly because many reps do not make a career of this job, and work only one or two seasons for the experience. However, there is strong competition for vacancies.

Jobs are advertised on tour operators' websites and on recruitment websites such as

Education and Training

As the work involves a high degree of responsibility, employers require candidates who have had some previous work experience in a customer service role. Applicants may also need some experience of administration and sales work.

Many employers prefer applicants to have GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), possibly in English, maths, geography and a foreign language, but this is not always necessary if applicants have good customer service experience.

A working knowledge of one or more foreign languages is an advantage, although not always essential. Spanish, French, Greek, Turkish, Italian or Portuguese are particularly useful.

Children's reps normally need a qualification in childcare/early years care and relevant experience.

Some colleges offer courses leading to qualifications specifically related to the role of holiday representative. These qualifications are:

  • NCFE Level 2 Certificate for Resort Representatives.
  • Edexcel Level 2 BTEC Intermediate Diploma in Overseas Resort Operations.

Colleges set their own entry requirements, which are likely to be four GCSE's/S grades (A-D/1-4) including English and maths, or equivalent.

A range of other qualifications may be useful, for example:

  • AS (Advanced Subsidiary) or A levels in Travel and Tourism.
  • City & Guilds Travel and Tourism Diplomas.
  • BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in Travel and Tourism.
  • NVQs in Travel and Tourism or NVQs/SVQs in Customer Service.
  • Scottish Group Awards (SGAs) in Travel and Tourism.
  • Foundation degrees, degrees and postgraduate qualifications.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Successful applicants usually have to complete a two to four-week training course with the holiday company. Half the training may be in the UK and half at the resort.

Reps have to familiarise themselves with the resort where they are based so that they can give accurate local information and useful ideas to guests.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Holiday representatives should:

  • Be self-confident, with a pleasant, cheerful and outgoing nature.
  • Have excellent communication skills.
  • Be smart and well-groomed.
  • Be in good health, with energy and stamina.
  • Ideally, speak one or more foreign languages - this is an advantage, but not always necessary.
  • Be patient, tactful and diplomatic.
  • Have a strong sense of responsibility.
  • Work well under pressure.
  • Have good organising and problem-solving skills.
  • Be able to work within a team as well as using their own initiative.

Your Long Term Prospects

It is possible to gain promotion to senior posts, such as representative in charge or regional manager.

Some may use their holiday rep experience to go into other areas of travel and tourism, such as tourist information centres, regional and national tourist boards, and travel agencies. Some may become self-employed tour managers or move into hotel management.

Get Further Information

Career In Travel, PO Box 495, Eastleigh SO50 0BL

Institute of Travel & Tourism, PO Box 217,
Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 8WY
Tel:0870 770 7960

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000

Springboard UK, 3 Denmark Street,
London WC2H 8LP
Tel:020 7497 8654

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