Working as a holiday representative can be fun and a great chance to work overseas but you will need lots of energy.
Tour or holiday representatives are responsible for looking after groups of holidaymakers on package holidays, often at international destinations. They make sure that everything runs smoothly, handling any complaints and resolving problems. Typical duties involve:
- undertaking pre-holiday research into local facilities
- inspecting hotel safety and cleanliness
- offering sightseeing advice
- organising and leading excursions and entertainment
- liaising with providers of accommodation, travel agents, coach companies and so on
- resolving conflict with clients
- referring complaints and problems to senior management
- writing reports
- providing support when holidaymakers experience difficulties such as lost luggage or health problems
- organising and supervising activities for children
- selling additional services such as car or equipment hire
- meeting clients at the airport and accompanying or transporting them to their accommodation, and holding welcome meetings
Tour representatives may be 'on call' 24 hours a day. The work is not particularly well paid, but food and lodging are usually factored in. While it can be stressful at times, there is also a lot of fun involved.
You may work as part of a team of tour reps, or be the only rep at a particular resort. Some roles may involve administrative tasks and social media activity as well as customer-facing responsibilities.
- Travel agents
- Private villa and apartment owners
- Tour and coach operators
- Camping holiday companies
- Sports and sailing clubs
Vacancies are advertised online, in newspapers and trade publications including Travel Trade Gazette and Travel Weekly. Networking and speculative applications are advisable.
A few companies operate head office-based graduate training schemes. Paid summer vacation jobs may also be available with some employers. Applications for these should be made during the autumn prior to entry. Holiday reps may be employed on seasonal contracts.
There may be opportunities to move around different resorts managed by the employer, spending a season at each one. Tour reps may be away from home for months at a time, so it can be difficult to combine this type of work with family life or caring responsibilities in the long term.
Tour reps may move into senior roles that involve supervision and management, such as resort supervisor, resort manager, area manager or tour operator. Their customer service experience stands them in good stead in pursuing careers in retail as well as hospitality, leisure, tourism and travel, and will also be relevant in other industries.
A degree is not a standard requirement for tour rep roles. However, there can be strong competition, so a degree in a relevant subject such as leisure, travel, tourism or management can be an advantage.
Relevant experience or alternative qualifications will also be helpful in your applications. Experience gained within the hotel, tourism or travel trades (particularly overseas) is advantageous. Familiarity and knowledge of key holiday destinations, foreign language skills, first aid knowledge or a driving licence can also be useful. Childcare qualifications or experience, or both, are likely to be an advantage if the role involves organising activities for children.
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Communication skills
- Organisational skills
- Fitness and health.