‘You’re just on a full time holiday’ is something that many holidaymakers said to me during my first season. The majority of the time, these words are spoken out of spite. If an individual is frustrated with something and it gets to the point where there is nothing you can do to help or they are unhappy with the outcome, they will start to attack and they believe you are just there for a good time rather than to help. Often, you have done everything in your power to assist them, resolve the problem and have been nothing but polite. If Brits abroad do not get what they want, it doesn’t matter how hard you’ve tried, they will not be happy bunnies. They will take the stance that you don’t want to help them even though you have done everything for them. A lot of them have it in their heads that you spend the odd hour in the hotel and the rest of your time spent sunning it up and partying. They think you are only there to have a good time, just counting the hours until you can hit the beach and get smashed. It is an incredibly annoying and frustrating comment to hear because they have no idea how many hours you put in, how hard you work and how many arseholes like them you have to deal with in a day.
Unless you are a rep, have been a rep or know a rep, you have no idea of what the job actually is. The naive do believe it is about getting a tan and drinking yourself under the table. While rep life is a great life, it is actually a lot more intense than people believe. Our jobs are the same as most full time jobs with 7-8 hour shifts each day, however we only get the one day off. On top of that we have to work airport shifts, guide events, run bar crawls and booze cruises. We spend the majority of time in our uniform. I spend the majority of days dealing with complaints and having people scream at me. People have no clue what goes on a day in the life of a rep and because there is plenty of good and bad, I decided to compile a list of the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of the job that I encountered during my first season.
The sun – Probably the most obvious good point about rep life is the weather. With England being a constant gloom where you are lucky to actually get a summer, many Brits go on holiday abroad every year. So who wouldn’t want to actually live in good weather? The chance to get a tan, soak up some vitamin D, feel the warmth and spend days off at the beach.
The cultural diversity – The opportunity to experience a new location, new food, new customs and new locals every single season. Not only that but your team will consist of many nationalities including French, Belgian, Dutch and German reps you will be working with.
See the world – The perfect way to experience the world and get paid to do it. If you can’t afford to go travelling, this is bang on for you as you get to explore a new destination every single season. You also get to experience it first hand by living there and working with the locals.
Rep discount – Many bars and restaurants want you to recommend them to your guests and will give you great discounts in return. Last season, I even received free meals, drinks and even bottles of vodka. This means meals and nights out are a steal.
Days off – The best days off are had abroad when instead of catching up on laundry or lounging in front of the tv, you can run down to the beach, spend the day at the water park, cruise on a boat and basically do whatever you want to enjoy the weather.
The trips – The majority of the trips you sell to your customers, you can do for free. Want to spend your day off on jeep safari? Free! Fancy an evening watching a show? Free! Wanna go dolphin watching? Free!
Your money is your own – With the company providing your accommodation, a car with petrol allowance and being able to eat in your hotel, any money you earn is yours. Whether you use it for a good time or decide to save up, there are no bills to pay so it’s up to you what the money goes on.
The people – You will make friends with the exact same view of the world and way of living as you. You will make incredible memories and have some of the best times of your life.
Missing home – Although it is obvious you will be leaving behind your friends and family when you take the job, homesickness is still the worst. Some days you just want a hug from your mum or a natter with your best friend.
Working in the heat – Another obvious one when you take the job but still affects you. The weather is great… on your day off. Working in it is a bitch.
Enemies – People you don’t get on with, you are stuck with. There is no avoiding them as you live, work and socialise as a team. Spending so much time with people, it is easy to get frustrated with each other and there is no avoiding it.
Stupid questions – Guests ask the most ridiculous questions. The end.
Entitlement – Guests who think that because they are on holiday, they have this entitlement and think that it is perfectly acceptable for them to kick off.
Complaints – The bane of your life. People find absolutely anything to complain about.
Early starts/late finishes – Waking up at the crack of dawn for an airport shift, going to bed a few hours before you have to be back at your hotel after bar crawl, life is exhausting.
Death – Something you don’t expect to deal with but if one of your guests sadly passes away, you’re up. We dealt with an extremely tricky situation where other guests actually wanted to complain about witnessing the death. Ridiculous, uncalled for and disrespectful.
Coach crashes – If a coach full of your guests on the way to an excursion crashes, you have to deal with that too. When this happened, thankfully we had a rep on board to deal with it on the scene and ease the immediate tension. For us it still meant days of taking details, filing incident reports, people with faux injuries, individuals who felt they were more entitled to compensation than other passengers and just general ridiculousness surrounding the situation.
Aggression – As previously mentioned, people who don’t get what they want become very unhappy and on some occasions become very aggressive. A great deal of people think it is right to be very verbally aggressive, offensive, get right in your face and scream. One woman even threatened to slap me.
Difficult situations – Fights, domestic arguments, restraining orders, sectioning, public nudity… we dealt with it all in my first season.
Extreme circumstances – From natural disasters to terrorism. Although I didn’t experience it first hand, I know reps who last year had to deal with the shootings in Tunisia. They were just as terrified as the customers and wanted to get home just as badly, however, they still had a job to do. They still had to be professional and understanding even when people were complaining and screaming at them about the situation that they were affected just as much by. They were the last to leave as they had to make sure all the guests were home and safe first. It was a very scary and intense time for them and is a situation nobody can be prepared for.
So overall, there is a lot more good than bad. I absolutely adore my job, I love living in the sun and having my day off to spend at the beach. I love the opportunities working abroad gives me and am incredibly grateful to be in the position I am in. However, as much as I am in love with my job, it is not all unicorns, it can sometimes get very intense and is lot more than most people think. I am an information desk, a sales colleague, a complaints manager, a weather reporter, an administrator, an airport controller, a tour guide, a translator and so much more. You give it a try and tell me if you think it is still just a full time holiday.
Have you ever been a holiday rep? What was your experience?
*All opinions are my own and just that: opinions.