Holiday 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:
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:
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.
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 www.careerintravel.co.uk.
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:
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:
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.
Playworkers work with children and young people to provide a safe, exciting and fun space in which to play, socialise, try out new things or just spend quiet time. Working in teams, they may work with children ranging between the ages of four and sixteen, or with one particular age group.
The idea of freely chosen, self-directed play is integral to playwork and all playwork settings aim to encourage children and young people to decide and control the content and intent of their play by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.
Holiday representatives should:
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.
Career In Travel, PO Box 495, Eastleigh SO50 0BL
Institute of Travel & Tourism, PO Box 217,
Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 8WY
Tel:0870 770 7960
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Tel: 01895 857000
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London WC2H 8LP
Tel:020 7497 8654