It’s been a couple of weeks since the grads arrived back at TUI HQ in Luton, and the sunny climes and care free culture of our beach resorts have already become a distant memory. We were welcomed back to UK by the ‘super’ storm that managed to shut down the local rail network for the whole day.
Having spent much of our 5 week placement attempting to convince family, friends and colleagues that we weren’t on an extended holiday, I have to admit that the first thing we did once back in the office was compare tans. However, a meeting room was booked for the whole week and we soon got down to business.
There are two main objectives of the Graduate Overseas Placement. The first is to ensure that the grads develop a solid understanding of TUI’s customers and products and observe how the overseas operation works. This means seeing first hand the daily tasks of our Holiday Advisors, Entertainers, Childcare staff, managers, admin employees and agency staff. With this experience we’ll be much more aware in the future of how Head Office decisions and actions affect our customers and staff overseas.
The second objective of the placement is to report back to the Holiday Experience team based in Head Office with recommendations for improving customer service delivery, modernising the business and generating revenue. This supports the Holiday Experience vision for TUI ‘to become the most customer-centric service provider of travel experiences in the world’.
The week kicked off with a lengthy discussion around everyone’s individual observations and suggestions. Emptying the leaflets, forms, posters, maps, guides and manuals we’d collected onto the table for comparison, we debated everything from bar crawls in Magaluf to dolphins in Majorca to the cost of spas in Crete. One point that quickly became apparent was that every destination has its own success stories and challenges. For example, although neighbouring islands, the difference between our operations in Menorca (where I was) and Majorca (where Rosie² were) was huge. In that respect it was sometimes difficult to agree upon universal recommendations for all resorts.
Despite these challenges, by the end of the week we had finalised a presentation of recommendations that covered a range of areas including excursions, sustainability and best practice. This will be given to Ian Chapman, Director of Holiday Experience, and Sean Parker, General Manager, in December.
Our overseas placements wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and organisation of the staff in each of the destinations we visited. For five weeks we were welcomed into the overseas family and shared the highs and lows, the happy and the unhappy customers, the fiestas and siestas. Each grad was assigned a Resort Team Manager as a buddy, who created our timetables, set up meetings and made sure we got the most out of our experience. The Area Manager for each gateway, despite being ultimately responsible for thousands of holiday makers, also devoted a large amount of their time to explaining the many aspects of the role. And of course we have to say a big thank you to everyone who we shadowed and pestered with millions of questions. We’d love to buy you all a drink in the Dreamliner Café next time you visit Wigmore House!
Emma Bean (UK Commercial Graduate)