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The travel business is never boring, that’s why so many agents have chosen it for a career, but do you remember your first week on the job? Can you recall the cocktail of emotions that ran through you including nervousness, excitement, and anticipation?
We’ve asked travel agents to share some of their first day on the job experiences or rookie experiences. To better illustrate the experience, we re-created a fictional first hand experience of that day. Follow “Tammy”, a bushy-tailed, yet naive advisor, on her (exaggerated) first day on the job. [Satire]
7:05: Wake up. Today is my first day as a travel agent; how exciting! What am I going to tell my mother? How dreadful. She’ll understand my passion for traveling, right? I did a semester abroad so mom will see the connection of how I jumped from a psychology degree that took four years to working at a travel agency.
8:45: Walk into office. I’m early. My co-workers will see this and I will instantly earn their trust and respect as being a hard-worker.
8:47: I have walked around the office and no one is here to see my 15 minute early arrival triumph.
9:05: The agency manager introduces herself as Molly. She comes across confident and worldly. I imagine Molly has seen every corner of the world. I will match her feat by the end of the week!
9:10: Molly explains the phone system and provides the log-in to my new work email. I now have the tools to start an empire. She tells me this is a people business and I’ll do fine if I can really get to the heart of people’s desire. This is great as I am half-excited to help people and half-terrified to talk to them.
10:00: My orientation with IT and the office manager is over. Molly told me “I oughta” is very important. I oughta do what? What ought I do? Sometimes Molly worries me. She even wrote a nine-digit number down but she must be a horrible speller because she put “IATA” next to the number.
10:30: A fellow agent asked me to help her book a hotel for her client going to Charleston. My co-worker makes quite a silly blunder and put the wrong state of West Virginia on her notes. Her client is all set for Charleston, SC. She will thank me later.
11:00: I discovered that “I oughta” is actually an acronym for the International Airline Travel Association. This is good progress. Now I only have to figure out what ARC, FIT, CLIA means and I should be on my way to a promotion.
11:05: My phone rings, my first call! Holy crap, my first call! What do I say? What if they ask me a question and I do not know the answer?
Me: “Hello! This is…” I’m so nervous I’ve forgotten my name. Panic sets in.
Caller: “Sorry, this is who?”
Me: “Tammy!! This is Tammy!!!” How about I not scream my name.
Caller: Hi Tammy, I’m hoping to plan a trip for my family back to North Dakota for our upcoming family reunion.”
This is a nightmare. North Dakota? Where is a map? I need a map. Molly!! Get me a map. A client is asking about some foreign destination called North Dakota.
Me: “Great! How exciting! Let me get your contact information and I will call you back with North Dakota travel ideas.”
After getting my first lifetime client’s contact information, I will now become a master of North Dakota travel. Never again will I be caught off guard about a destination. There will not be one thing I do not know about North Dakota’s experiences. My lifetime client will be so impressed that she will never even think twice about using an online travel agency or using my itinerary and ideas to book the trip herself. Her appreciation will be beyond over-the-top. This job is easier than I thought.
[Place this video in by this section: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M68b2yww32A
12:00: Lunch time. I will check my Facebook post where I announced to the world about my new career as a front line travel agent. I’m sure my friends will leave only words of encouragement.
Comment 1: You’ve become a what? They still make those?
Comment 2: Congrats! Best of luck!!
Comment 3: This is your mother. Please call me.
Well that’s about enough of Facebook.
1:00: My desk mate Sarah asked me to cover her phone while she takes lunch. Her phone promptly rings as soon as she walks away.
Me: “Hi! This is Tammy!” Ugh, I’m still yelling.
Client: “Help! My husband is swimming in the ocean and the jet skis are getting dangerously close to him!”
Me: “Did you alert an employee?
Client: “No, I'm up in the room on the balcony; they can't hear me and that's why I called you!”
Me: “What do you want me to do?! “
Client: “You all booked it! Figure it out!”
Me: “I’m sorry; I think you need to call the front desk of your hotel.”
Client: “Well thanks for nothing!” Click
1:15: A client walks into the office and I am able to watch Molly work her magic. The client decides that a cruise would be very relaxing. While Molly went to grab a brochure, the client asked if the cruise to Mexico would stop and pick her up in Encinitas at Moonlight Beach when it passed on the way down from L.A. It seemed like a simple request so I assured her that I didn’t see it being a problem. Molly did not seem pleased when we presented the idea to her.
2:00: This job is harder than I thought. Is it time to go home yet? Maybe I should call my mother and ask her if I made the right career choice. On top of being unable to solve the husband from the jet skis, finding out there is indeed a Charleston, WV, booking a flight to San Antonio (SAT) rather than San Diego (SAN), I have still yet to master my knowledge of North Dakota travel experiences.
3:00: As I sit and ponder at my desk, Molly and Sarah come over to talk with me. I thought they were going to ask me to clear out my desk. Instead, they told me that I do indeed belong here and despite some set-ups, I had the right attitude. People that want to help other people experience the joys of travel will always have a place in this industry. They told me their own funny stories of other times they asked silly questions about all of the industry acronyms. Molly asked Sarah if she remembered, “the cross of Loraine” when they both started laughing while I looked at them blankly.
Then Sarah told me a beautiful story of how she helped a mother and her young son visit Walt Disney World after losing her other son. She talked about how his face lit up when he arrived and how that would always stay with her. I realized that this is absolutely the industry and career that was meant for me.
4:00: I finally call my mother back after seeing her several missed calls throughout the day.
Me: “Hi mother. Are you looking to offer career advice?”
Mother: “No, your father and I want to visit a beach. Can you help us?”
Me: “I’m on it!”
5:00: I leave work feeling a sense of belonging and excited to start my travel advisor journey. One day down, many more to go!
Power of the Partnership
While Tammy’s story is fictional in some regards, many of the stories were real experiences that agents shared with us. For many agents, the greatest benefit of belonging to a consortium is the feeling of community and being able to reach out to fellow agents via social media and in other ways to keep them smiling throughout the work day. We hope this brought a smile to your face and hope more new agents “survive” the first day and be a part of this community.