Being a holiday rep is something you really need to think about before applying. You will be moving country, leaving family and friends behind, earn half of your wage on a commission basis, work long hours, deal with extremely difficult customers, be a confident public speaker and you’re not guaranteed work year round. Before you even reach any of that, you have to survive a tough application process. Applications to be a holiday rep open every November for the following summer. It can be a long winded process but my own experience was more condensed into two months.
I applied in late January through an online application. Late one night, I simply decided I wanted to leave the country and applied for anything I could find on Google that would give me my escape. It was your typical online application of basic information, uploading a CV, answering a few questions, fairly straight forward. Early the next morning, I received an email saying I had been selected to take part in a video interview. This involved downloading an app which I had 30 seconds to read questions on and then immediately record my answer. At the end, you could re-play your answers but couldn’t re-do them, they were immediately sent to HR. I had a week to complete my video interview and although it sounds fairly simple, watching yourself on a screen answering the questions is quite nerve-wracking. I honestly thought I’d blew and forgot about it.
The day after I completed the video interview, I received another email inviting me to an assessment day three weeks later in London. Options for my company were Machester, London and Glasgow however, they have since added Birmingham. The day of my assessment day, I got all dressed up and headed to a fancy hotel, however it pissed down on the way and I showed up like a drowned rat. Great first impression! To add to it, I had brand new shoes on which were ripping my heels to shreds and so super uncomfortable. I really didn’t have high hopes for the day at that point. Firstly, we were introduced to assessors for the day who explained a bit about the company and we watched a presentation. There were roughly 40 of us at my assessment day and were split into 4 groups to complete tasks. The first take was group work. We were given a scenario, a map, a to-do list for the day and had to organise and prioritise which order to complete the tasks in explaining why. The second task was solo and we had 10 minutes to prepare a sales pitch either about our hometown or our favourite holiday destination. It had to be two minutes long and performed in front of the rest of the group. I chose Orlando which actually went really well as it was my most recent holiday destination and I was incredibly passionate about it. It was so scary standing up in front of everyone though. I have been into acting since I was 6 so everyone assumes this gives you the confidence to stand up in front of people. I personally find it more difficult, when I act, I am someone else, I am being judged on the character. Presenting, I am myself and being judged on my own personality which is difficult. We then completed a math test, filled in a form of our preferred destination (out of Spain, Greece or Turkey), our measurements and when we would be available to fly out for a week long training course. We then had to role play with one of the assessors with a few different scenarios given but all involving a difficult customer and us attempting to solve it. This was awful, I hated it. I was given a customer complaining about the food in the restaurant and it was horrible as I had no idea if what I was saying was correct. After lunch was the face-to-face interview. Although I didn’t think the day had gone terrific so far, I thought it had gone fine and I had a bit of a shot. However, the interview was the worst. It was quite a relaxed interview with just a few general questions about customer service etc, nothing out of the ordinary but I was so awkward and nervous. I struggled to answer questions and paused a lot. I knew at that point I had absolutely no chance of getting a job.
My assessment day was on the Friday and late Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call from the woman who had given me the face-to-face interview offering me the job. A week long training course would take place in Mallorca three weeks later and I had to complete this to actually get the job. The day we landed, we had a lot of time just to settle in to the hotel and relax. We then had uniform fittings and a welcome presentation, before having the evening to get to know the other people on the training course. The days for the rest of the week consisted of classroom learning during the day with an exam the following day of what we had learnt. We needed 75% on every exam to pass, if you failed, you did get to resit but after a few attempts, you were kicked off the course. The evenings consisted of preparing presentations to perform in front of the rest of our group the following morning, most solo presentations, one group presentation, all nerve wracking. I’d say about 95% of people cried that week. It was hard work and difficult but in my personal opinion, it wasn’t bad enough to get upset or quit over. You need to understand that everyone is nervous, most people are going to get constructive criticism and no one has a clue what they are doing. As long as you improve as the week progresses, you’re fine. We also had a free afternoon in Palma in the middle of the week just to give us a bit of a break and time to relax. On the last day, we collected our new uniforms, put them on and waited in anticipation to be told our destination. One by one we were called and told our placement, start date and any feedback they had. I got Mallorca with a start date of three weeks later with feedback of being a natural and also being recommended for a flagship hotel and a step-up scheme to progress to head rep. I was so shocked. After our placements were given, there was a presentation followed by our new badges being presented and a celebration evening, before heading home the next day. This was the end of the process and I was officially an employed holiday rep.
I never really thought to much about the whole process and I think that is what helped me the most. I applied during a difficult time in my life and just kept saying ‘yes’ although it was scary. The process can be long and difficult but the end result can be amazing. To be honest, it is a bit of a Marmite situation, you either love it or you hate it. A lot of people left the training course, a lot of people left the induction course and a lot of people left mid-way through a season. It isn’t for everyone but if you’re interested, you just have to keep thinking ‘why not?’. You may aswell apply and find out, if it’s not for you, you can always go home. Better to try than spend your whole life wondering. If you find it is for you, you will have some of the most amazing years and experiences of your life!