By Lisa on Aug 04, 2013 with Comments 2
Sunday is Spotlight Sunday. This means on a Sunday I choose a topic or place to highlight for you. It can be anything: it might be related to where I am or what I am doing, it might be related to our current Destination of the Month, it might be something current in the news, or it might be a totally random subject.
Spotlight on my Job
This week I have decided to put the spotlight on my job.
The reason I have chosen this subject this week is because a few days ago I asked you to decide which would be the Destination of the Month now in August. The plan was that we were going to Bangkok, but as I still had so much to tell you about the previous month’s destination, Mallorca through the eyes of a tourist, I asked you “Can Bangkok Wait?” And the overwhelming response was that yes, Bangkok can wait.
So this month we are continuing tours of No Frills Excursions, specialist tour operator in Mallorca. No Frills Excursions also happens to be where I work, so I can give you an insider’s view of what we do.
I’ve already told you a little bit about what No Frills Excursions is and I’ve also told you a little about what the company does. But I have not really explained to you exactly what my role in the company is, although I have hinted at it.
What I do at No Frills Excursions
My main role in the excursion company is in the main office. This is where we take bookings, organise coaches and prepare material like leaflets, posters and ticket books for the 200+ sales points that we have over three resorts.
I am in charge of the day to day operations, which means meeting the guides and drivers in the morning and giving them their pick up route for the days excursions as well as instructions and information.
Any last minute bookings that come in while the coaches are already picking up are coordinated by me.
All this starts at 8am and goes on until 10:30am when our latest day excursion coaches leave resort. During this time I am taking telephone bookings for excursions for other days, organising clients who come to the main office to get on their coaches and finding someone who is willing to go to the bar next door to keep us topped up with coffee.
It is my job to make sure that coaches are not overbooked and everybody with a ticket is picked up. I am pleased to say that I am doing a good job and there are very few bewildered tourists waiting by the side of the road for a bus that will never turn up!
Just to give you an idea of what I am coordinating; our coaches can be picking up up to 300 passengers in resort at any one time, we can have up to seven coaches all picking up at the main office, and last week, we hit a record number of people getting on coaches at our main office with 53 people waiting outside. That’s 53 people who all have a question before they set off and who all need to be told their bus number before they surge at the first coach to arrive.
I do, of course, have help at the main office. We have a team of staff and even though our roles overlap during these manic first hours of the day when it’s all hands on deck, we do all have defined jobs for the rest of the day: I deal with the daily operations, Nuria takes bookings, Jill coordinates the online bookings and Toni is in charge of finance.
Despite all working on top of each other in an office which started out with just one desk and one telephone ten years ago and which is far too small for all of us, we work in relative peace and harmony and get on well together.
We are used to switching from English to Spanish to (broken in my case) German with the clients, drivers and guides but amongst ourselves we speak mostly Spanglish as we communicate using whatever word comes to us first regardless of the language.
Leave me alone in the mornings – unless you are bringing me breakfast!
During those first hours of the morning, friends and family know not to bother me, commercials from different attractions know not to bother coming to see me, and if there does happen to be a new commercial from some venue or attraction who unwittingly enters the No Frills main office before 10:30 they are soon shown the door.
By 11 o’clock I am ready to look at the prevision for the next day’s excursions and start to think about booking coaches with our coach company and advising guides of what work they will be doing the following day. I also need to update numbers with suppliers where we have a limited number of seats or places in a venue.
Then it’s time to get to the emails and answer pending queries or to process the staff liquidations, which are kept locked away until this moment.
We have four of our own shops other than the main office, which are essentially points of sale, and every day all the sales have to be processed by me.
My Fridays and Sundays are dedicated to other liquidations from external selling points like hotels that sell our excursions and I have to go through the bookings and arrange for the money from ticket sales to be collected. Before I can do this I have to check that the liquidation is correct, that each ticket has the correct commission and that we are not charging cash for a ticket that has been paid by visa.
I have to prepare these liquidations in logical routes for our commercials as they go around the different hotels. I also have to give them to the commercials at a time when they can collect the payments and then immediately go bank it. I have the added challenge that the banks are only open in Spain from Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 14:00 meaning that we can’t collect any cash in the evenings or at weekends.
My most productive day is Sunday as it’s the quietest day on the booking front. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the volume of bookings doubles compared to Sunday and thinking about getting anything done is a waste of time. On these days the busiest time for bookings is when our office is officially closed at 8pm.
The official office timetable is 09:00-13:00 and 16:00-20:00 though in reality we are there from 08:00 until 21:00. The time when the telephone gets busy and all the bookings flood in is from 19:30, after people have eaten and decided that they would like to book a trip for the next day, until about 21:00. During this time we just take booking after booking for the next day, but we also have to be careful as many of the next day’s excursions are often already full or nearly full.
Every booking that we take is introduced into our booking system where we can see immediately the relative pricing information and we can control how many people we have for each excursion. We also have to be on the ball because this booking system is used by many external sale points, like hotels, who choose to access our system directly instead of waiting to get through to the office on the phone. There are often details missing, like the clients room number and we sometimes have to sort out bookings that have been introduced for wrong days or wrong times given.
My favourite day is Thursday because I get out of the office and guide an excursion myself: I pick up a coach load of shoppers and take them to Inca Market, the biggest market in Mallorca. It gives me chance to interact with our clients and also gives me a very welcome break from the main office madness.
Day of Rest – almost
And Saturday is my day off. That’s the day when I get to switch off my phone and switch off my brain. Well, almost. As it happens, last night at 3am I received a call from a confused hotel receptionist asking me to give directions to some lost clients who had just arrived and couldn’t find the hotel. He thought he was calling his boss! As you can imagine I wasn’t impressed, but that’s just one of those things that happens in summer. I’ll be writing a post some time over the next few weeks about some of the crazy calls we get.
Non-stop from April to October
People who have been inside my office during a crazy moment often ask me how I can cope with that volume of fast-paced work day in, day out and here is the response that I give them:
Firstly no two days are the same and there are new people to talk to every day and new queries to deal with every day, which is interesting and fun.
Secondly I am providing great experiences for people on their holidays; the number of happy and grateful faces makes it a pleasure to organise all this.
And thirdly and equally as important as the previous two, I know it will all be over at the end of October and I will have five months for travelling and unwinding before the start of the next season. I know it’s not healthy to live for the future and to rush the present away, but my attitude changes completely in the winter when I feel like slamming on the brakes so I can enjoy the island for me for as long as possible before the next summer invasion.
So now you know. That’s what I do. I’m in the main office in Puerto Alcudia. Feel free to pop by and see me any time – after 11am of course.
About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....