June 2007 - present
Sales Manager, then Customer Service Manager
Going Places and Thomas Cook Retail Ltd
Nov 2003 - June 2007
Jan 2000 - Nov 2003
August 2000 - present
Took on additional role of Regional Cruise Co-ordinator
Oct 1997 - Jan 2000
June 1994 - May 1997
Holland & Barrett
- Sean Snazell
- Thomas Cook Retail
- Customer Service Manager & Regional Cruise Co-ordinator (Merry Hill, Dudley)
Q: What made you choose to join your current employer?
My partner's job moved to Milton Keynes and I needed a new job! I saw in the local paper that Going Places was opening a new branch and thought, I'd like to try that! I then worked my way up from Travel Advisor to Management.
Q: What is the basic function/purpose of your current role?
My main role is Customer Service Manager. The main function is to run the shop floor, help to support and coach our team of Sales Consultants and interact with customers.
My secondary role is Regional Cruise Co-ordinator. I source and send out offers to all Thomas Cook & Going Places stores in the region and help organise training and meetings. Very occasionally, I also get to go on a cruise myself!
Q: How relevant were your qualifications to you getting the job?
Only the NVQ [Level 3 Customer Service] was relevant. My degree [German Language & Linguistics] comes in handy on the very odd occasion I get a German-speaking customer though. The main thing we look for in this business is personality and the ability to talk to customers. I'm good at talking!
Q: Describe some of the key tasks involved in performing your current role and the frequency with which you have to perform them.
Preparing and carrying out a daily morning team briefing to share with the team how we performed the previous day, what our targets are for the current day plus any other important news.
Also; dealing with any problems that may arise with bookings and trying to find solutions, as and if they occur; interacting with customers as they are sat with a Sales Consultant, helping them to find the right holiday (and always trying to recommend a cruise!) and finally looking out for great cruise deals and sending out them out to the region to help our other stores recommend the best offers to customers.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work each day?
Once the alarm is deactivated, I have to make sure that all the computers are switched on and displaying the screen saver.
Q: How big is the team in which you work?
21, including a management team of four, two admin assistants, four Foreign Exchange Consultants and 11 Travel Consultants.
Q: Describe how your job interacts with the rest of your team.
I am their first port of call (forgive the cruise pun!) if they have a problem or are trying to match a competitor's price, particularly with regards to cruise bookings.
As part of the management team, I help to train and coach the team in order to improve their personal performance and career progress. I try to instil a fun atmosphere at work, which I believe makes staff more productive. Plus customers prefer a fun and lively atmosphere. As my colleague, Andrew, always says: "We are selling holidays, not funerals."
Q: How would you describe the working culture of your current employer?
I came to Thomas Cook through the merger with MyTravel. The culture at Thomas Cook was a little different and took some time to adjust to, but I have settled in well now. Thomas Cook is a very team-orientated company, which I like. They also like to reward outstanding performance in the workplace.
Q: What career avenues do you hope to be able to pursue in the next: two years, five years & ten years?
I can see myself in a role with Cruise Thomas Cook, helping stores to maximise their cruise sales, as the fastest growing sector of the travel industry. Alternatively, I can see myself in a training role within Cruise Thomas Cook.
Q: What do you like most about your current role and why?
I love helping a member of the team to clinch a sale or finding a great offer that generates an increase in sales. These are topped by customers coming to say 'thank you' after their holiday because they have had such a good time.
Q: What did you/do you find hardest about your current role?
The hardest thing is competing priorities: jobs that need to be done urgently at the same time as customers are waiting to be served. I also wish that there could be a little less paperwork to do, but I think that comes with most jobs these days.
Q: How close do you think the general public’s view of your employer is to the reality?
Fairly close, I think. Customers appreciate Thomas Cook's heritage and longevity. To be honest, customers book with a travel agent they trust. It's about building a rapport with them, so that they come back to you time and time again because you know what they want and you deliver it.
Q: Would you recommend your employer to a friend and if so, why?
If I had a friend that wanted to work in the travel industry? Definitely! Thomas Cook is one of the biggest travel companies, not just in the UK but in the world. The opportunities are huge, from working in retail or tour operations to working in a resort or at head office. Thomas Cook also rewards its staff and the travel concessions are great!