In 1989 I found myself once again bored with life in the UK and decided it would be ‘a bit of a laugh’ to apply to become a Travel Rep. After a day-long interview extravaganza (lots of whooping and hollering and being generally super enthusiastic) I was offered a post in Mallorca (which when I received my letter I thought was some fancy, exclusive island and not the place I knew as Marjorca).
I set off to join the two-week training programme in Alcudia, but due to one of the existing reps falling ill, was taken out early to start in the resort of Puerta Pollenza.
It didn’t take long to realise that I had drawn the short straw. I was looking after a very old and tired hotel that attracted a lot of complaints (largely due to the fact that it bared no relation whatsoever to the pictures and description in the brochure), plus an apartment complex owned by a dodgy German who regularly overbooked guests and placed them in grotty little apartments in the middle of nowhere (miles from the beach, a swimming pool, restaurants, night life or indeed any form of life).
I was expecting repping to be a doddle (a bit like working at the Karaoke bar but with a distinctly unflattering nylon blue blazer/A-line banana yellow skirt uniform). How wrong I was. Within my first few weeks, one disgruntled guest had almost throttled me (grabbing me by the neck and forcing me against the wall, where he gave me a piece of his mind) and another had thrown a room key at my face and cut open the top of my eye.
I began to appreciate just how important these holidays were for the guests I was looking after. They were escaping whatever their ‘stuff’ was at home and praying that a week in the sun would solve all their problems (their marriage would get better; their kids would suddenly start behaving; their money worries would go away). So when their dreams of the perfect holiday were shattered on arrival, because the hotel was a shit hole or the place they had been expecting to stay at suddenly wasn’t available, they got understandably upset – VERY upset.
This all really bothered me, and I hated being part of that disappointment. While all my fellow reps were partying away and not really caring too much about their weekly intake of holiday-makers, I was slowly becoming a nervous wreck!
The sun, sea, clipboards, and reps shows simply weren’t enough to keep me there. I lasted most of the summer, but then after a particularly unpleasant week of over half a dozen overbooked families, I called it a day. A casualty of caring too much about my customers.
LESSON: DON’T LET A COMPANY COMPROMISE YOUR PERSONAL STANDARDS.