I am bereft…. my assistant Helen … (no I mean Emily – all my assistants have to answer to the name of Emily, right?) has gone on an educational trip to Jamaica. You have to understand …. she is my people. She looks after me. Gets me an Americano every morning, reminds me about appointments, babysits my grandchildren and in between all of this turns out a great newsletter every week and keeps our website right up to date. She has gone to Jamaica for a week on an educational trip. Now let me emphasise that she is already highly educated – but not necessarily in the ways of Jamaica. Also Jamaica is one of the more popular sun destinations and as she is my marketing assistant it’s important to find out more about Jamaica. At least this was the gist of the argument that she gave me when the opportunity for this trip came across my desk. I fell for it – I am a bit of a sucker like that but she’s a good kid.
Now familiarisation trips (or “fam trips” as they are known in the industry) can be quite tricky. Firstly you usually have to share with a complete stranger. I have been lucky so far and have made good friends along the way but have heard the horror stories of room mates who soak their undies in the bathroom vanity overnight….. umm as I said, tricky. Secondly there is a wide range of age groups from seasoned travel agents with walkers to fresh out of college “perkies” who, like the song “just wanna have fun”. So one half of the group can’t keep up and the other half are “girls gone wild”. Pity the poor sales rep who has to control this group.
For the most part however these trips give us in the industry an in-depth experience of the destination. Believe me – it’s not all pina coladas on the beach. I have been on some trips where we will do 20 hotels in a week. When you get back to the office there are photos to sort and a report to prepare so you can share your knowledge with co-workers and of course your clients. However nothing quite beats the look on a client’s face when you can tell them – “Yes I have been there …. I know that hotel”. You see – that’s why they come to a professional.
So back to my assistant who right now is likely enjoying a cocktail on a beach somewhere. Unlike the assistant in the Devil wears Prada her name is not Emily but Helen Trip – and yes she has heard every joke about that one. She is updating her own blog onsite – and she has already lost her sunglasses!!