What's it really like?
After spending three years studying for a BA degree in sociology, Becky Ellinson, 22, spent six months working as a resort representative and cast member at the EPCOT at Walt Disney World in Florida. Here’s what she had to say about her time working in the holiday industry.A typical day at work was very strenuous but definitely worth the early mornings! I would greet guests, welcome them to the particular area of the park, answer any questions they had about EPCOT and give directions. I also acted as a representative for two rides in, so I had to stay in character (as a scientist!) and welcome them to EPCOT’s Imagination Institute.
It’s so hard to identify the best part of the job as I enjoyed almost every moment of it. You get to meet a lot of people, talk all day and learn great facts about Disney. You also get to welcome guests to a fantastic environment, and do everything you can to make their trip a happy one. This can involve anything from advising them on which rides to try, to finding them a shop that sells a particular toy.
Even though you have to work hard at all times, it still feels a bit like you’re on holiday because you’re constantly surrounded by families enjoying themselves in the gorgeous Florida sunshine.
However, I have to say that there were a few parts of the job I wasn’t that keen on. Sometimes it can be a little daunting, especially on busy days where you are constantly faced with streams of guests. A lot of the roles involve standing up all day long, so you have to be prepared to ache a little!
The pay at Disney wasn’t that great either. I received about $6.80 per hour and, given the exchange rate between the pound and the dollar at that time, it didn’t translate to much in UK terms. However, managers, supervisors and representatives with more experience are paid far more so it’s not something to be too worried about. In any case, the cost of living in Florida is nowhere near as high as it is in the UK.
The best advice I could give to someone contemplating this job would be to be prepared to smile all day. You have to think positive, keep an open mind and learn about the area and its surroundings. You must look presentable and enthusiastic the whole time, stay in character and keep in mind that you are constantly 'on stage'!
You’ve also got to remember that, in some ways, you’re the public face of the resort so you’ve got to constantly project a positive image regardless of the circumstances. It’s also important to be in control of the situation whatever eventualities may arise.
This kind of job has great opportunities for career progression as it sets you up perfectly for jobs in guest relations and hospitality. I'd love to continue working with the public in this type of environment. However, even if you don’t carry on working in hospitality or tourism, you’ll find that your time as a resort representative will have left you a more confident and fun-loving person.
The best advice I could give to anyone contemplating this career would be to smile all the time. Smiling is very important in this line of work as it enables you to keep the guest at ease. If you appear to be relaxed, whilst managing to look informed at the same time, people will be more than happy to come and talk to you and it makes their day a lot more enjoyable.
Resort representatives look after and address the concerns of holidaymakers. The majority of resort representatives work overseas.
Resort representatives are employed by holiday resorts to promote activities and liaise with guests. As a resort representative, it will be your job to meet and greet visitors, answer questions, accompany guests on excursions and participate in events. Most representatives work on a seasonal basis and, whilst wage rates can vary, the opportunity to live (and often party) at some of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations serves as an important incentive for many individuals wishing to enter this occupation.
Wages within this sector depend largely on your level of experience. Most representatives earn about £11,000 per annum, but experienced representatives can earn up to £15,000. Your employer is likely to cover the cost of accommodation and insurance, and opportunities may also be available for earning commission (such as by selling tickets for tours). However, this is likely to depend on the resort in question and the leniency of the employer.
As a resort representative, you will be required to meet guests on arrival and accompany them to their hotel accommodation. You will also need to provide them with information about resort facilities and the entertainment on offer in addition to attending these events yourself. You’ll also need to be on hand to answer guests’ questions and deal with problems as they arise, such as lost passports and accidents. You might be required to take on tasks of a more administrative nature as a part of the job, including arranging excursions and car hire services.
Resort representatives don’t require any specific qualifications. However, employers will generally expect you to have good GCSEs, especially in Maths and English. BTEC degrees in Hospitality Management and Travel and Tourism are looked on favourably by employers, and a foreign language is always an asset in this industry. Remember that if you plan on working with children then a CRB check will be required.
Here’s the lowdown on the sorts of skills you’ll need if you are to succeed within this field:
- Good communication skills - you’ll need to interact with guests from all over the world. Clarity is key!
- Patience – this will be essential when you’re called upon to deal with angry guests.
- Good level of self-confidence – it’s your job to promote the resort.
- The ability to stay organised - this job can be quite stressful and you can often find yourself put under pressure. Staying organised is therefore crucial.
- Good computer skills – remember, as with most jobs you’ll have to spend time completing at least some paperwork.
Resort representatives generally work on a seasonal basis, although this depends on the nature of the resort and the country in which it is located. As a resort representative, your job is bound to take you to the finest holiday destinations in the world, so it goes without saying that your working environment is likely to be fairly pleasant.
Whilst you’ll have to spend a fair amount of time dealing with practical and administrative matters, most of your day is likely to be spent outdoors promoting the resort and daily activities. However, you should be warned: it’s not likely to be all sun, sea, sand and parties. Early nights are likely to be a rarity and you’ll have to deal with angry guests on a regular basis.
You’ll certainly be at an advantage if you’ve previously worked in another part of the travel and tourism industry. However, any evidence of previous employment in areas such as customer service, administration or leisure will be beneficial to your application. More importantly, however, is your personality. Tour operators will be looking for someone who is confident, energetic, enthusiastic and highly organized for their resort representatives.
Students and young people may be particularly interested in working as representatives at Thomas Cook’s Club 18-30 resorts.
Slightly further afield, the United States is home to a number of mega-resorts, including Walt Disney World in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California, not to mention a number of premier resorts on the Las Vegas Strip including the famous MGM Grand Las Vegas.
However, if you’d prefer to remain in the UK and still enjoy the perks of life as a resort representative, then it might be worth checking out another mega-resort - Alton Towers.
Depending on the size of the employer’s business and the scope of their operations, it may be possible for you to progress on to the position of senior resort representative or regional manager within a few years.
However, working as a resort representative is likely to provide you with the hands-on experience you need to enter a number of other professions within the hospitality industry. You might want to look into working for a regional or national tourist board as such agencies are always on the look-out for enthusiastic young people who possess in-depth knowledge of the local area.