A lot of people dream about working abroad in a sunny southern country like Spain. However, only few succeed. If you are able to speak a few foreign languages and if you have some experiences working in the tourism industry, you might have a step ahead. Then you can work for tour operators like Thomas Cook abroad, like me! So, how to do that? And what is it like to work in a Spanish island? Continue reading to find out!
In my last blog post I announced that I got a position as a Connected Service Consultant at Thomas Cook for the Summer Season 2019. Basically, this means that I am working in Destination Management abroad to support travelers who are on a holiday and need some assistance.
My Placement for the Summer Season
What I did not know when I applied for the job is where I would end up working. I was either going to work in Crete (Greece), Palma de Mallorca (Spain) or Faro (Portugal). I was lucky to get my prefered destination and so I got to stay in Mallorca, a beautiful island that belongs to the Balearic island group in the Mediterranean sea.
However, I found out that I will need to change destinations after being in Spain for 183 days. Apparently, this has to do with local tax duties: if you live somewhere more than 183 days under a foreign contract, you need to start paying local taxes. So, to avoid that Thomas Cook re-places its employers every 183 days to another destination. Next: Faro or Crete?!
I now live together with 2 amazing roommates in an apartment with seaview near the beach in the capital Palma de Mallorca. One of my roommates is German and the other one is Polish. Both are females. It is a beautiful modern apartment with a large kitchen, three spacious bedrooms, a balcony, three bathrooms, … everything I wished for!
Finding Balance: One Month on the Job
I am almost one month here now, time flies! So it is time to make up a balance after having settled. How is it to be working here? Well, great so far! I must admit I was a bit worried to be living with colleagues (because who knows whether I like them or not!), and I was not sure if an office job (even if it were in a foreign country) was really what I wanted to do… but I am really feeling great so far here!
I am surrounded by professional and frienfly people and colleagues and my roommates are great (as in clean, quiet, fun and respectful). Also, I have 2 days off every week so there is enough time to have a break from work to explore the island. I have already done some trips during my off-days and after work there is always a few spare hours to go for drinks or tapas in the city.
At work I am finally (after a few weeks of intensive training) settled in my job role: I need to take phone calls, answer e-mails, Whatsapp and SMS messages of customers who are currently on a holiday and need assistance with pretty much everything you can imagine that can be categorized mainly as:
- A complaint
- An incident
- An enquiry
I think the most frequent things that travelers ask assistance with so far is:
- A transfer to the airport
- A room change in the hotel
- A hotel change in case they don’t like their hotel
- Help with insurance matters when they are sick
- Booking excursions
- Assistance to report lost or stolen items
- Going home early or later
- Online check-in with their flights
For all these issues, there are a lot of parties in a lot of countries involved: hotels, local agents, brokers, airlines, administrators, taxi drivers, travel agents, receptionists, … so a lot of the times I need to contact people who work in the tourism industry.
So Far, So Good! Why I Like the Job
I like a lot that I can use a lot of my language skills: I help customers in Dutch (or Flemish, my mother tongue) and French (the second official language of Belgium, my home country) and I when speaking to third parties I mostly speak English or Spanish. At the office, English is the main business language. This job is veryyyyyyy good to practice and improve your language skills!
What I like most about the job so far is that I really feel that you can make a difference in someone’s holiday, how simple or small the issue may be. And even though people are not always directly thanking you, you know that because of what you did, their holiday changed for the better. So if you are looking for a job that gives you satisfaction, working in Destination Management is definitely it!
Another nice thing is that I work with colleagues from all over Europe in the office so I live in a very international environment. I work of course more closely together with my Dutch and French speaking colleagues in my team, but there is also a German, Hungarian, Polish and British team. So, when we go out with colleagues, it is always an interesting mix!
The Biggest Challenge: Timing & Shifts
The fact that I work in a shift system is very new to me and is probably the biggest challenge. There are different shifts, more or less from 6.00-15.00, from 9.00-17.00, from 12.00-21.00, and a night shift from 21.00-6.00. Each time you work 5 days, and then you get 2 days off. For the night shift, you work 4 days and get 3 days off. The shift changes every week with a rotation system.
The good thing about this shift system is that you can do something different every week: going to markets in more a morning thing, going to concerts is more a night acvitity, and going to the beach might be better early in the morning or late in the afternoon (when it is not too hot yet). So, you can plan activities according to your schedule. But I still need to get used to developed a flexible biorythm.
Also, the bus system on the island is not the most reliable and especially not from where I live in the city. I have been arriving late twice already at work, which is of course not giving the best impression as I am still in my trial period. I have to get better in timing… but I found a solution! I ordered a beautiful bicycle (which will hopefully arrive soon!) so I can drive myself to work and get some excercise on top of that.
Conclusion: Better than I Expected…
Overall, I think that this job itself is maybe not that different from a job that you would do in your home country in a call center, for example, but there is nothing better in the world than being surrounded by an international like-minded team of people who are adventurous like you, who like to travel, who are flexible and open-minded.
… And most of all, there is no better feeling in the world than to take a deep breathe after work and to step outside the office everyday, to breathe in sea breeze and put on your sunglasses. To go outside after work to explore a holiday destination. Realizing that you are so blessed to live here for months, because many people only have one or two weeks abroad to enjoy it. So, be grateful.
Every day is a holiday in Spain!
Wanna Work For Thomas Cook?!
Do you think this job is something for you? Well, then go for it! But before deciding whether you apply… Check out my check list whether it is really something for you. And please, do not hesitate to comment bellow with any question you have. I will be so happy to reply!
My Check List …
Working abroad for Thomas Cook is something for you if you like to :
- travel a lot and live abroad
- see many destinations
- get an apartment and costs covered
- live somewhere with a lower cost of living
- be surrounded by an International team
- get a lot of job training
- work 5 days and get 2 days off
- have a high salary for local standards
- work for bonuses based on performance
Maybe working abroad for Thomas Cook is NOT for you if you are looking for:
- a high salary
- a fixed contract
- a private apartment
- permanent residency abroad
- career growth possibilities
- fixed working hours
If you are 100% sure that you want to go for it, then apply now to become my colleague: as a Dutch-French speaking agent, Polish and German speaking agent, or Czech and German speaking agent. Or take a look on the Career website of Thomas Cook for other currently available positions.
x x x From Julie With Love x x x