I have had the pleasure, pain, misery and amusement of working in the travel industry for the last 4+ years, with my main focus being on gap year and backpacker travel. This has provided some utterly baffling, highly amusing and down-right cringing moments along the way.
During my first role working for a gap year travel company in the UK, I spent my days trying to convince uppity public school kids to choose to use their gap year to do something more than just debauchery on a Thai beach, backpacking around Australia, or drinking anything and everything as they bus around New Zealand on the Big Green Fuck Truck (The Kiwi Experience). Ironically, 2 of these things were what I did on my year after finishing school…
The focus was trying to get people to understand that you can do a little more than just lounge around on a beach; but let’s face it, who doesn’t like doing that? What unravelled in most cases was general toing and froing between me, the spoiled child, and an over-zealous parent, who was practically forcing their child into doing something that they had very little interest in undertaking. Come on sweet child of mine, take my hard-earned Pounds and do something “rewarding”, “compassionate” or “life changing”…
My “career” (if you can call it that) has developed somewhat, from a cosy office in Bristol, where – apart from on school event days – I didn’t have to speak to anyone face to face (apart from colleagues), to now where I sit in one of the busiest travel agencies in Melbourne and spend all day dealing with the daily bullshit that is city life, lost people, strange people, and more. From meth-heads who come spinning and dancing into your shop grabbing brochures from the walls and throwing them elegantly into the air – FUCK OFF YOU SKANK and go fuck up someone else’s shit, please! – to confused, naïve or irritating backpackers who literally don’t know their asshole from their earhole.
“I would like to do a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef… from Melbourne… tomorrow.” Well I would like to shoot lightening bolts from my ass, but unfortunately some things are just not going to happen. The Great Barrier Reef, for anyone who is unsure, is located about 3000km away from Melbourne. Not your average day trip.
“I would like you to book some flights for me. I would like to go to Bali, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, India, Dubai, Spain and Mexico. I have 2 weeks and would like to see all the main attractions.” Seriously… give me strength.
I’ll give them their dues though, some of my customers are hot on it and are a little too organised – that makes my life much easier!
A spot of generalisation about my main customers (apologies for any offence caused…):
The British & Irish… Literally the best of customers (in most cases), they trust you to pretty much tell them what to do, as long as you can guarantee they will be able to get very drunk, do everything that everyone else will be doing so they don’t miss out, get very drunk again, and most importantly you can guarantee they will have FUN! Do these things and the only question you will need to ask is: Cash or Card?
The French… (Trying not to be stereotypical here) From my experience the French travellers are possibly the strictest, most unrealistic budgeters you will find. EVERYTHING is too expensive. “Non, dis is too exphensive” But that is what it costs… what do you suggest I do, call the company and tell them that according to the Frenchie in-front of me, their 3 Day Whitsunday Island Sailing Trip is too expensive and they should consider lowering their prices for the busy summer period… Uhuh, I’ll do that then, yeh… No.
The Germans… On the whole Germans are great, but I have found there are 2 types of German travellers. The first are the stereotypical grumpy Germans who appear to have had a little hard-wiring failure in the sense of humour department. They need every detail down to the finest points – “What colour hair will the driver of the tour bus have when he arrives at my hostel at 08:53am?” If you can make them laugh you can sell them anything. Up until that point you have a long road ahead of you. The second are the happy-go-lucky Germans (I work with a few of them, but almost all other’s appear to be Au Pairs) who almost instantly show you trust, laugh at your jokes, and even make their own jokes…it’s a crazy world! Yes team Germany, doing your nation proud.
The Dutch and the Scandinavians… I’m categorising now, because there is not too much to say about these two sets of customers. They speak great English (because let’s face it, I don’t speak anything else other than English, and even that is done poorly sometimes – thanks West Country accent!) which makes things much easier on the whole, and they generally just want you to “make it happen” for them. Also, they are a straight talking bunch, so if they don’t like something, they WILL tell you. No bullshit. Easy.
So that, right there, is a little insight into my daily life as a travel agent. I do love my job, and don’t really have any complaints, but some people… come on now, sort it out!
Here’s a koala: