Pret A Manger: Goodbye British Christmas, Bonjour Paris!

March 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

Pret A Manger: Goodbye British Christmas, Bonjour Paris!

After experiencing Pret A Manger’s luxurious décor; gorgeous salads, baguettes and gleaming eyed baristas; you wouldn’t be left with enough energy to wonder what goes on the other side of those star crested doors. While you were surrendering yourself to the sweet froth of a Pret latte, chances are you missed the best part about visiting one of the 265 branches across London, New York, Chicago; Washington and Hong Kong (wish we could mingle in all five!)

At Endeavour magazine, we believe in the spirit of Christmas. And as a late Christmas gift to you- we’re going to update you with the `best parts`. So Good Morning Britain, Hey America… and last but not least, Ni Hao to those of you in China!

We travelled to Pret’s very first branch in London Victoria to meet with the Head of Sustainability, Ms Nicki Fisher to unveil the secrets behind Pret A Manger’s global projects, hard grafted philanthropy and sparkling aspirations. We’ll be saying “Salut beauté” as Pret lands in Paris; we’ll arrive an hour early before our flight to catch a glimpse of a brand spanking new branch- and we’re having a little chat with our friends over at Pret USA (and wishing we were there). We’re also filling our ears with all the brilliant things that happened over the festive season. Who knew that a Christmas fare, fit for Saint Nicholas himself- could contribute directly to charity?

It was raining torrentially, our promising umbrellas had just blown inside out and all we could focus our minds on was our need for a hot, fluffy coffee (Mm- we wonder?) As soon as we stepped inside the Pret headquarters, our minds began to embark a little. It appeared as a contrary universe- waiting to be opened up to us and us only. Oh, and you lovely people, too…

Christmas in the United Kingdom

With December having just passed, we thought it fitting to pleasantly interrogate Nicki about the Christmassy bits… and there is a lot more to praise than just the hand-made mince tarts. Although they are a pretty good place to begin!

“With every seasonal sandwich that we sold, 25p was donated to local charities. This ensured that the less fortunate were able to have hot dinners throughout Christmas time as well as year round support”Nicki says with a great warmth, which instantly makes us believe they done a pretty good job of it. And with £124,470 raised in only five weeks- we have very little reason to believe otherwise. There was something on sale to suit all tastes- the `Christmas Lunch` for meat worshippers, and the `Brie & Cranberry` for Veggies- as well as the Gingerbread Snowman- all of which graced the cute Pret baubles in their Santa hats. There are 250 Pret branches in the United Kingdom; and thousands upon thousands of tummies wishing to sell their own soul for something a little festive to knock back the winter blues. By using our expertise in calculating equations, we figured that we would be seeing the six digit number fly off the gauge before we could blink the snow away from our eyes. And that would have been after we treated ourselves to our nearest Pret. Visit Pret A Manger’s web page to watch the baubles count up all of the pounds and pence donated over the festive season.

One man’s Christmas sandwich is another man’s Christmas pudding…

Philanthropy in the United Kingdom

Little White Vans

Pret A Manger is famous for using only the freshest ingredients; we know this because we often catch sight of the yummy pastries and coffee beans arriving on a burgundy trolley of an early morning. Like us, do you ever wonder what happens to any of the left-over products at the end of the day? (We would hate for them to go to waste). Thoughts like these led to the discovery of the `Pret Charity Run- small, white star crested vans which deliver any remaining goodies to local charities in the area… every, single, evening. This makes us shiver in our boots; firstly because it is icily cold outside the Pret headquarters… and secondly; more vitally- because we are considering the dauntlessness behind it.

Every evening, the unsold but still perfectly formed sandwiches, croissants; baguettes (the entirety) is distributed to those who, quite honestly- have nothing. The Pret Charity Run should not be confused with a project created solely for Christmas time; oh no, it should not. It is efficacious every evening, all year around. It is restless- which is the most exceptional factor about it. Dozens of organizations promote charity and good will seasonally. But why wait?

This is funded in a similar way to the Christmas dinners; which is by selling products such as the `Love Pret` bar, with charity donation tags (without the baubles, of course). It must be working especially well, because it has been providing for over 100 local charities and organizations from the year 1986. Some may argue that it is less complicated to rise the funding and then send it directly to the charities; so what is it about Pret a Manger’s morals, which makes them, go to such lengths to do things alternatively?

“It is too easy to send a cheque to an organization and feel good about yourself. There is littlecompassion behind it. I think it is very sad that Britain, as a first world country- is in a state where people are hungry on the streets” Nicki continues to explain just how many organizations depend on Pret A Manger’s daily visits. “We make it possible to eliminate the need for a food budget. The organizations are then able to put the extra money into other vital areas, such as medical treatment and housing”

Career Prospects for the Less Fortunate

We were already taken aback by how charitable the coffee chain was able to be around Christmas, when Nicki graced us with a bigger bombshell. A bigger, better one. Annually, the company helps homeless individuals off the street and makes them into special Pret A Manger apprentices; providing them with an allowance for food, travel and clothing as well as full pay. This ensures that the new recruits are presentable and able to carry out an average working day with ease; which, ultimately- allows them the same opportunities as any other individual working for Pret a Manger.

Nicki goes on to say, “Our apprentices are treated and paid in the same way as any other member of staff. We know how important it is to make them feel part of the team” We find this incredible. Pret AManger is a company that believes heavily in equal opportunities; so heavily that they help people off the streets, rebuild their lives and offer them full time careers. And thanks to Pret’s down to earth approach to employment, 88% of the apprentices that they took on last year have brand new lives. Following this success, Pret A Manger have plans to take on 70 extra recruits, as well as expanding the project- known as the `Simon Hargraves Apprenticeship Scheme`- to several cities outside of London after the new year.

Now we know why the baristas of Pret A Manger are always so gleamy-eyed…

New Year in the United Kingdom

Our minds are vibrating and we are on the edge of seats, peering into the eyes of this inspiring women that we now know as Nicki. The sudden overload of information has us wanting to come up for air- but we’re far too intrigued to go anywhere. We must find out more. And there’s one more question resting on our lips- just waiting to burst out- and because of this, we must stay a little longer.

What is waiting for Pret A Manger on their already beautifully expanded horizon?

“We plan to build on the foundations already laid around carbon reduction, ethical sourcing and healthy eating” Nicki says, before going on to explain exactly how they will do this. “We are increasing the vegetarian options on our British menu, as well as reducing the salt and fat content in many of ourproducts” Sounds brilliant to us already; our on-route breakfast from Pret, only skinnier. And it’s not only our mass that Pret A Manger wishes to keep healthy, either. “We believe in preserving as many of our natural resources as possible. Sustainability has always been very important to the company, so every year we strive to improve our performance in the key environmental and social concerns” Nicki says thoughtfully.

We can tell just how important this is, by the sustainability section of the website; where the targets- clear, concise and well thought out- are listed in burgundy stars down the centre of the page. Nicki goes on to tell us what is at the top of the list. “We are keeping an eye on our packaging lines, as well as introducing new in-store recycling stations” This does not surprise us. (Remember the recycled napkin thing? The baristas were obliged to present only one napkin to each guest and if anymore were given then said guest was allowed to give them an evil eye). And this is not meant as a bad thing. In fact, because recycling is promoted so much in the UK; it is actually comforting to know that one of the most obvious forms of resource preservation has not been missed out.

New Year in the United States of America

We love nothing more than hearing about different parts of the world (particularly about a collection of states in a far-flung kingdom known as the United States of America). So when we found out what our friends at Pret A Manger USA had been getting up to, we had butterflies the size of Brooklyn whirling around in our tummies.

Nicki, who also deals with the sustainability for Pret’s global branches, says “We are focusing on carbon footprint within the entire US business; as well as understanding the water usage to see where we can cut down” Pret A Manger USA are also following the success of the Brits, with plans to set up their own Pret Foundation Trust to help the hungry in the States just as in the UK.

Pret goes to Paris… and beyond

Pret a Manger are putting on their burgundy berets and mingling with the city of romance as they launch in Paris, France in early 2012.

If you’re flying out before Christmas, then you may encounter one of the two brand new branches in Heathrow Terminal 4 (Airside) or Manchester Piccadilly train station (Landside).

We would like to wish you a Happy New Year… wherever you are in the world.

Leonie Ann Garlick

Serena: Taking Africa’s Hotel Industry By Storm

February 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

In case you hadn’t heard- Serena Hotels are those little doses of luxury that are popping up all over South Africa recently. And with hearty safari lodges, sparkling city hotels and water cuddled lodges all being stamped under their name- chances are, they won’t be staying little for much longer.

We speak with the man at the soul of Serena’s passion, Mr Jan Mohamad- who is based at the busy, but brilliantly breath-taking branch in Nairobi, Kenya. We are on the edge of our seats, even before we dial through the International digit barrier; and so we should be. Having previously nosed around the website, we had a slight idea of what was in store. And we were right- the man is a professional; phones ringing from all directions, and an overly sweet personal PR inviting us to converse with him about his work and his creations. Page upon page of luxury packages waiting to be snatched away; clean-cut photography that causes us to break out into mid-winter holiday blues. It was all we could do but imagine the sight that Mr Jan Mohamad could see out of his office window- bushy oak trees, gaping greenery and oh- Nairobi’s Central Park. That’s something we’d all very much like to see, and not just because we are huddled inside coffee shops tasting our way through the seasonal pies and pastries as of late. Now you can imagine our excitement when the call was connected and Mr Serena himself began to speak to us, at Endeavour magazine.

“Serena Hotels began here, in Kenya; in the early seventies,” Mr Jan Mohamad says with a nostalgic swoon. “By the year 1993, we owned four properties; and by 2003- we had expanded into Tanzania, Zanzibar- and then onto Uganda and Mozambique. We are constantly expanding,” And rightly so. With three diverse styles of accommodation, ahem, resorts- all rocketing into success with impeccable urgency, there is no direction but onwards and upwards for Serena.

So what’s the story with Serena- when did the hotels, lodges, spas, camps, and even the forts of Africa become so… so, serene?

“When Serena began in Kenya, the tourism industry was very small,” Mr Jan Mohamad says with a comforting level of bona fide. He goes on to explain that as the industry grew and the demands of guests altered over the years, Serena had no choice but to grow along with it. Although Serena primarily focused on safari; Mr Jan Mohamad expresses the importance of strengthening the city and resort circuit; which has helped to keep them one step ahead in the ever increasing hotel industry. Not only were the Serena hotels expanding and still are; but they are in the midst of reinvestment, re-branding and refurbishment as well. And by this coming December, Serena are aiming to have a few more under their belts, too.

Mr Jan Mohamad says he recognises how important it is to have well-trained employees; and that is exactly why time and money is heavily invested in the sector to make sure this happens. With every department from restaurant, to spa, to safari being immersed into rich on-duty education; it is unavoidable that Serena’s nurturers are to be rising stars along with their resorts. Mr Jan Mohamad goes on to say that “All of the staff within our hotels are of African origin, apart from one expiatory member; who is our French pastry chef,” Serena loves to keep things local; this can be seen in anything from their close-knit family of employees, freshly sourced ingredients at breakfast time and lustrously brewed wines and beverages; making every branch laced with refined rustic culture. Serena only turns to importing when necessary; these are features that simply cannot be obtained from a local source- such as machinery, decorative plants and spa products by Elemis, which are flown in from the UK. This again, ensures that Serena upholds the best standard of quality as well as preserving the natural beauties of a true African resort.

Although the first branch in Kenya, which has been running safari experiences since the very beginning, was a success- it became apparent that Serena needed to expand in order to captivate a broader range of guests. And that’s exactly what they did. Serena’s opulent accommodations began to develop within an array of different destinations; these included lodges by the river; intricate camps in the mountains and spas near to the ocean, to name a few. I can tell by the tone of Mr Jan Mohamad’s voice that this is a vital factor for Serena- to be diverse. Whether the packages were crafted for business conferences, a honeymoon or even an elephant seeking trail during a student gap year- every inch of the company’s effort has been squeezed into making each one is brilliant in its own way.

Allow me to introduce another of Serena’s on-going focuses, and in Mr Jan Mohamad’s words, their `philosophy` – value for money without loosening any of the luxury. One of the main ways the company is able to do this is by offering something for every budget; so whether you are booking into `Deluxe` or going all out with `State Suite’, you’ll be hard pushed to disappointment. Mr Jan Mohamad goes on to say how important guest feedback is. “28% of our business is repeat business; (areas that guests have commented on positively again and again) so this is what drives us”.

Okay, so many hotels in Africa can do a safari experience or provide `x` amount of space for a wedding ceremony. So what does Serena have that the others simply do not, we hear you say? What is it that makes their guests return again, and again… and again?

It’s the little extra details that other companies would not even consider that makes Serena worth spending that little extra.   For starters, they offer the safari experience, but without the added stress of organizing the separate accommodations, major sight-sees and travel- they’ll do it all for you. Imagine choosing your dream safari, and then watching it all come to life before your very eyes- without having to think about a thing? Well, apart from which colour knickers you should bring and whether a baby giraffe will be close enough to pet. We were sold on this already. And as for the packages- where else in Southern Africa can businesses join inside charming gardens that are bursting with floral displays, vibrant cultural music, invigorating spa treatments and even a flute or five of champagne? Forget stuffy, overcrowded conference rooms and still table water. These things are unheard of as far as Serena is concerned. Or perhaps you will see a traditional wedding taking place next door, complete with a full themed banquet, blooms that would put a Victorian garden in the shade and a harmonic choir… and not a finger sandwich or piece of dry pineapple on a stick in sight. Ultimately, where else in Southern Africa, will you find so much class mixed with so much authenticity? Give us a minute while we take all this in.

Hmm- nowhere we care to think of, that’s for sure.

The air outside is thick with mist, and the typical British weather has us tucked up in our blankets with a seasonal mocha and a hot water bottle already. We’ve opened our carry-ons, thrown in a bunch of light cotton garments and located the whereabouts of our promising and well used passports. We’re off to the warm swathe of Africa; all we have to do now is decide on a pretty lodge in fairy lights, or a hotel with an explosion of glitter shed décor. We love Christmas here at Endeavour, don’t you? How about we save you a seat on the plane. Leonie Ann Garlick

Traditional Brit, travel Journalist and romance extraordinaire

Www.pixieabroad.com

Nomad

October 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel for everyone, Working Abroad

Comments Off

Nomad Africa Adventure Tours is a one of a kind tour operator aimed at discerning travellers who want to walk as close to the wild side of Africa as possible.  Today tourists of every elk from honeymooners and vacationers to foreign business executives can enjoy and experience the best that Africa has to offer through these tours.  This can be done in safety without the dangers that the original African adventure presented to Nomad’s founder, Alex Rutherford, while setting up his business.

I spoke with Alex Rutherford, the founder of Nomad Africa Adventure Tours, a remarkable and strong willed man.  Alex has travelled from Morocco, down the coast of West Africa, cut across to Mali and Nigeria; passed through the Democratic Republic of Congo to East Africa and the likes of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania on the coast. Having covered 35 000 kilometres in 10 months, he crashed into Cape Town having spent little over 1 350 GBP.

Most would have packed away their cagoules and hung up their hiking boots at the first sign of a potentially life threatening experience, but not Alex, he proceeded to multiple them by three. Or maybe it was four or five…

Alex always had a plan to work and save up enough money to carry out his dream trip. He gambled to raise the cash for a flight ticket to the United States with only 20 US dollars in his back pocket. He began manual work there and after a year and a half, ended up as a General Manager.

Back in the UK, Alex made a friend for life in the person he bought his old Land Rover from.  The Land Rover suffered engine failure shortly afterwards but Alex was generously looked after by the original owner of the Land Rover, postponed his trip and began rebuilding the faulty part with no previous experience in mechanics.  Alex travelled as far as the Swiss mountains with the restored 1972 Land Rover before the gear box collapsed and he spent three weeks camping in the snow.  So that’s how Alex’s adventure started (along with a lasting distrust of Land Rover).

After contracting Malaria while driving from sunrise to sunset through the rainy season in the isolated Democratic Republic of Congo; and then being chased by guerrillas and plummeting into a tree; Alex remembers a time when he was tempted to give up.  His vehicle, along with four others, crossed a derelict, dust storm prone stretch of the Sahara; where the debris in the air cuts off all visibility.  The vehicle Alex was in paused to snap a photograph and within that time the other vehicles had vanished.  They had been literally blown away in the wind and there was no way to reach civilisation. This was a big wake up call for Alex.

“Nerve wracking”, Alex says of his time in Northern Uganda.  The West Nile Front was fighting with the Ugandan government and the convoy he shared with local military was stopped due to a previous vehicle being attacked and the driver shot.  Alex waited a week before he was allowed to be released. He drove through a countryside littered with the carcasses of vehicles which had been ambushed and turned on their sides.  Alex stopped over in a little town to take refuge and had to camp without a fire so he would not be found.

Despite Alex getting into some extremely tight situations and admitting it’s not for the faint hearted, he describes his travels as `life changing`.  Alex reveals he overcame difficult situations through persistence and by having faith in himself; because of this he had learnt to deal with dilemmas he never thought he could and now believes anything is possible.

The South African founder of Nomad Adventure Tours immersed himself in authenticity and culture; stumbling upon villages packed with hospitable tribes who had never seen a Westerner nor a car before.  Although, the customs officials were a different story, “Don’t show fear or they will take you to pieces; and if you’re rude, they’ll make your life impossible”.  Alex’s travel secret is that a meal spent with the natives was on of the most real parts of the experience.

A lot has changed since the time of Alex’s journey, roads have been built, laws have changed and development has improved. Alex goes on to explain the history behind the creation of Nomad. “Drivers of older style companies have been known to change flat tyres and end up crushed beneath their vehicles, their passengers taking their place behind the wheel without a licence.  Clients would catch a simple illness bug and be at risk of losing their lives through carelessness.  I thought there must be a better way to provide safer, more professional experiences to explore the tough areas of Africa” he says.  So that’s what they’ve done.

“We give quality service at a good price” Alex says, “ We tend to gear toward a 2-3 star style tour; we could run 4-5 but we believe in enabling as many people as possible to interact with Africa and it’s nature.  We provide a good platform, include the basics and then allow the client to customise their activities accordingly.  A student may choose white water rafting or something adrenaline infused; while a retired couple may book an elephant interaction or boat cruise.  The itineraries are so varied, but somehow when you put them all together, they work”.

It’s not what Nomad does that makes them unique to other travel companies; it’s the way they do it. And the way they see it, whether you’re in a 500 US dollar lodge or camping under the stars, the place you lay your head becomes less significant the moment you witness a lion eating a zebra in its natural habitat.  Nomad has also expanded its tours to Zimbabwe, and Alex says that the decision was partially personal.  He has always been fond of the `good place with good people`, and his company is one of the very few tour operators to finish their tours in Zimbabwe.  They’ve been doing it for the past ten years; and  the large amount of revenue their clients create for the country is one of the only incomes locals continue to gain.

Although running commercial trips North of the equator is considered unsafe, unviable and with a sinister lack of amenities; Alex has still taken inspiration from this leg of his travels and used it to inject some rustic, unscripted adventure into the equation. “I’d do something by accident and it would end up being a fantastic experience.  Often it would be too dangerous to replicate and out of most of our client’s budgets; but I’d love to run exotic trips if I found the time”.

The costs of the tours are considered inexpensive when up against the prices of fuel, sightseeing and dining out; but this doesn’t mean the action is ever cut short.  Actually, it means quite the opposite. In Botswana, you can paddle into remote places and be inches away from hippos and crocodiles, walk amongst the wild game and clamber aboard a raft in the falls. “We include plenty of adventure, just the right amount to ensure everybody comes out alive.” Alex laughs.

Nomad’s itineraries aren’t the only highlight of the company.  Not only can their guides whip up exceptional local cuisine, but they are trained to provide safety & travel information as the tour reaches each new destination.  They know where the Malaria regions are, which towns sell home-made palm wines and that Namibia is a good place to check your shoes for stray scorpions. The guides encourage you to keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle when passing wild game during a safari as the vehicle is then seen as a single unit and perhaps a little more intimidating.  The camps and hidden gems they recommend are magical even to the most knowledgeable of globe trotters, let’s just say, they’re multi-faceted.

Only employing 1 per 30 applicants, Nomad has a very strong idea of what they like to see in their guides; although these qualities vary over the years as the requirements of the clients change. They must be non-judgemental and open minded; with a lust for living out of a suitcase and a good knowledge of Africa. Maturity and moral courage is vital. The guides are never temperamental- when buttons are pushed as often as theirs are, they can’t be!

So what’s new on the horizon for the South African based adventure tours?  Well in the short term, Nomad Adventure Tours has just launched smaller group options; they take a maximum capacity of 12 clients and the tours are already in high demand.  In the long term, the company is still bound by rocketing exchange rates and political stability (or shall we say instability?) These are also factors that determine where the tours are operated and where they are not.  Although these points are consistently on a hypothetical see-saw; Nomad would like to add new locations as they evolve, become further accessible and develop beautiful new sights to see, fitting them into the itinerary wherever possible. The company has also introduced a “dive safari product”, which combines a unique mix of game driving, safari and diving- very unique indeed.

Good luck to Alex and Nomad Africa Adventure Tours with their new projects, we hope the company’s future clients will enjoy learning about their beautifully raw country as much as we did. Maybe they’ll save us a seat in their truck…

Article and words by Leonie Ann Garlick- previously published for Endeavour magazine at www.littlegatepublishing.com

Don’t Get Ripped Off- The Best Ways To Contact Home

December 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

You are going away for over a month and you don’t want to leave the trusty Blackberry behind. Your friends tell you it’ll rack up a giant bill- but you can’t imagine leaving something so personal behind (your baby, even). Roaming packages? A Foreign SIM? Find the option that best suits you (and your partner in crime)

Roaming Packages

  • Vodafone Passport- Vodafone

Includes a 75p connection charge per call, followed by normal UK call rates.

Call 5555 from your Voda phone or 08080 044456 for non Voda customers.

  • International Favourites- O2

Includes deals such as £10 per month for 3000 landline minutes to three international numbers, or £20 per month for an extra 200 minutes of mobile calls to 5 international numbers.

Visit www.o2.co.uk/internationalfavourites or visit any O2 store.

  •  Travel Bundles- Orange

Includes roaming bundles such as the `Europe Traveller`- save 25% on calls made in Europe and recieve free incoming texts, or the `World Traveller`- get discounts of up to 30% on all calls and texts in 186 countries worldwide.

Call 150 free from an Orange phone or visit www.orange.co.uk to create an account.

  •  Going Abroad- T Mobile

Includes saving up to 85% on calls from Europe and £1.50 per Mb to use the net abroad. T Mobile also has advice on using your phone abroad, ways to save money on calls & texts and other useful information on their website.

Visit www.t-mobile.co.uk/services/going-abroad/

  •  International Help & support- Three

Includes simpler international rates, international savings on calls, pay as you go abroad and free Skype-to-Skype calls. Three’s website contains a large variety of options for your roaming requirements and other useful information on their website.

Visit www.three.co.uk/help-support/International

International Dialling Codes

Country codes

Country codes are the numbers you will need to add before you dial the regular telephone number- as well as a city or area code.

International direct dialling codes

This is the number you will need to call from country to country. This is followed by a country code (some countries have several).

Visit www.appliedlanguage.com/international-dialing-codes.shtml for the correct dialling codes for your chosen destination.

Foreign Pay-As-You-Go SIM Packages

Spain pay-as-you-go SIM pack

Foreign SIM card packages can save you a great deal when it comes to calling home. They are supplied with an English user guide as well as a Spanish SIM, number and other necessities. Simply unlock your contract phone, replace your UK SIM with a Spanish one and top up as normal. Benefits include free incoming calls with 6p per min international calls and 44p per text.

Visit www.0044.co.uk/spain.htm

For assistance with pay-as-you-go foreign SIM packs for countries other than Spain please contact Pixie using the `Contact Us` section.

Skype

Skype is the ultimate way to contact loved ones and the perfect cure for home sickness! It’s available on Windows, MAC and various mobiles such as Android and Iphone- Skype is completely free for Skype calling, IM-ing and video calls- for a little extra fee you can get unlimited calling and a Skype To Go number among other benefits.

Visit www.skype.com

Email, Instant Messaging and Social Networking

Following Skype, email and instant messanger are the cheapest, easiest ways to keep in good contact with family and friends. There are many inexpensive internet cafes in European cities if you are planning to leave your laptop at home. Be aware that using the internet on your mobile and using internet dongles will lead to a very big bill; check out what your phone company can offer you in terms of international internet browsing- they may throw a little extra into your `roaming package`. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and other social networking sites are brilliant to keep in touch with friends AND boast about what you’re getting up to- result.

 

Packing advice for Club Representatives

November 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

Now that you have your flights booked, your place secured and your villa awaiting… your (naturally) nervous self must think about what to take with you. Your suitcase should typically be lightweight, minimalist and useful; packed full of hangover cures and devises to capture your memories- but portable enough to prevent causing you major tricep strain.

Ladies

Clothes

  • Half the amount of clothes you were planning to take- trust me! Create a light capsule wardrobe where you can mix and match city shorts, leggins, tees and vests; this will save on weight allowance.
  • White, neutral and floral shades are comfy and easy to combine
  • Party shoes must be gorgeous but sensible. 7 inch stilettoes arn’t ideal for long, busy shifts! A reliable pair of trainers are essential for surprise adventure trips, as well as mediocre dollies and skinny flip-flops. Lace-up plimpsolls are perfect for a long day exploring.
  • Skinny pjs and slipper socks are a must for home comfort- avoid light colours as they don’t last long on tile flooring.
  • Chunky socks and uggs are ideal for long haul flights especially when travelling in Winter.
  • A trusty pashmina or scarf- it doubles up as a blanket!
  • A small variety of bikinis and gemmed cover-ups- you’ll spend a big percentage of your trip in one!
  • Always take a cosy knit or jacket to layer up; although these countries are hot you never know when you’ll need one. Also take cardies in black or neutral shades to throw over anything when the evenings get chilly.
  • Fancy dress- and plenty of it! Bunny ears, neon war paint, glitter dust galore…

Guys

  • Thin cotton tees, cargos and loose jeans for guys; think smart but cool and comfy.
  • Light deck shoes or plimpsolls are brilliant for exploring; as well as sensible trainers and smart going out shoes for working and partying.
  • Jumpers, hoodies are recommended for layering and travelling, as well as a casual jacket for chilly evenings.

Documentation

  • Copies of emails from the company or organization you are going with. This will provide you with the records and details you may need.
  • Passport and flight confirmation/ tickets
  • Student ID/ driver’s/ provisional driver’s license.
  • Credit cards, traveller’s cheques and travel money cards.
  • Foreign currency plus some of your own currency- don’t get caught out when you need a bottle of water at the airport!
  • Medical and travel insurance documents
  • Foreign travel/ bus cards and passes (if you have purchased these in advance)
  • Copies of all important documentation- store these in a seperate place in case the others are lost.
  • DO NOT take resumes or a CV in your luggage if you are travelling with a holiday VISA. You may get stopped at the border and refused entry into the country if they think you are visiting for the wrong reasons. It is essential to check you have the correct VISA before you fly.

Medication

  • If you require medication on prescription check you have enough to last you the trip- also check if the medication in question is legal in your destination.
  • Take medication that you swear by- it may not be available where you are going. Although many foreign doctors pharmacists speak many different languages, it will be next to impossible to find a specific drug.
  • If you have a nervous disposition or are a nervous traveller, “Kalms” and “Bach’s rescue remedy” range are brilliant- stock up!
  • Remember your travel bands/ travel sickness sweets and tablets if you suffer from motion sickness.
  • Remember to research any precautions you need to take when travelling to foreign countries. Do I require jabs? Do I need to take mosquito repellant?
  • It is recommended to take a mini first aid kit- bandages, Olbas oil tissues, paracetamol, Lockets, Rennies, Alka- Seltzer…

Make-up and toiletries

  • Take brand names and favourites that you can’t do without in case they arn’t available abroad.
  • Miniature bottles of shampoo, bubble bath etc to start you off- full size bottles will take up too much of your weight allowance.
  • Sun cream and after sun plus a high factor lip balm
  • A good moisturizer such as Badger Cream or Palmer’s cocoa butter.
  • Dry shampoo is great for refreshing in between washes and heat protector is essential to prevent your hair from frazzling!
  • A miniature hand sanitizer and bar of soap is essential for all countries.
  • Travel wash is perfect if you are short on time.
  • Remember to store any liquids in your hold luggage.

Electrical

  • Miniature/ travel sized straighteners and hair dryer.
  • Foreign adaptors, chargers and USB cables.
  • IPod/ music and earphones are essential- your own music will help deal with home sickness.
  • Lap-top and a good, protective case.
  • A digital camera/ video camera with an extra memory card.
  • Polaroid cameras are wickid for party shots.
  • Most importantly, your phone. Look into getting a good package such as Vodafone Passport for cheaper calls and texts abroad, or a foriegn sim or inexpensive phone.

Other

  • Bottles of water, high energy snacks, sweets or chocolate are recommended for travelling and long waits
  • Note-pads and pens
  • Magazines from home- an absolute god send.
  • A miniature dictionary.
  • A really good book for mid- travel boredom and inspiration.
  • Travel guide book and maps for event planning and getting around.
  • Diary or planner for busy days
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Internet on your phone (very expensive abroad, but a life saver in emergencies- like a new age compass)
  • Travel umbrella
  • An alarm clock (it makes more sense to use your phone)
  • ear-plugs
  • Little memorials of family and friends- such as photos or a small item they have given you- also helps deal with home sickness.

Keeping safe in Marbella

October 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

Thieves

Mugging in Marbella

It is a very obvious thing to suggest that Marbella has thieves lurking, due to its money, tourists and clash of cultures- but you must still be aware of when they strike. If you are considering walking through a dark alley or walking around a part of the area at night that you don’t know, then be prepared.

Although you may hear about bad crime rates in Marbella through the media, (of course people get held at gunpoint for their money) it is just as likely that you will be attacked in one of Spain’s big cities. You should be aware that if you are a victim of mugging, Spanish police and security are not much help to the situation- you are likely to be sent to join a cue of tourists waiting to be helped too.

Credit Card Bandits

Credit card bandits are very rare in Marbella, but it is still important to pick and choose where you draw out your money. Resist from using a little cash machine off the beaten track, and choose an ATM belonging to a city bank instead. Credit card bandits are known to plant cameras inside the ATM machines, so your personal card/account details belong to them within seconds.

Pick Pockets in Marbella

Pick pockets are something not quite as sinister as muggers, but still something to look out for. Pick pockets usually have a lot of precision and skill when they are stealing, so make sure nothing valuable is visible to them. It is a good idea to hire out a safe with a lock in your hotel room, and only take a small amount of money out with you. Pick pockets are fairly good at stealing things from your cars if they can see something of interest to them- so make sure your car is properly locked and that all valuables are kept out of sight e.g. in your car boot.

Street Sellers

Street sellers are very common in Marbella- selling sunglasses, bracelets, knock off DVDS… you name it. They usually hang out where they know tourists will be, they will approach you on the beach or even as you are eating in a restaurant. The best advice is to simply say “no, gracias” as soon as they approach you. The odds are the products they will be selling you are of poor quality or are fake.

Personal safety

Hygiene in Spain has a long way to go before it is up to scratch with many other countries. Often the local dogs relieve themselves on the path and the toilets aren’t as clean as you would like. It is recommended to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you (as soap isn’t always available) and to drink bottled water. It goes without saying that the Costa del Sol is very hot, so sun protection is vital. You should regularly apply a high factor sun cream and preferably use heat protector on your hair. Even if the sun is not in full blaze it will still be playing havoc with your skin. Drinking plenty of mineral water is also a necessity as dehydration can occur a lot quicker than you think- and the effects may not kick in straight away. As with travelling to any other foreign country, travel insurance is very important. Private Spanish medical care is very expensive, and better still if you are hospitalized under insurance you will get looked after within the highest quality. Travel insurance fees are such a small price to pay- if not for principal of saving you medical fees then for the reassurance that you are safe whilst you are in a foreign country.

keeping safe in Tenerife

October 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

Personal safety

Not only are The Canary Islands living in spring and summer all year round, but Islands belonging to them such as Tenerife are almost touching the border of Africa, presenting this part of the world with tropical weather conditions. With inland Tenerife not having the help of the coastal breeze, daily temperatures can soar far above 30 oc, providing the involved counties with not only a sticky climate; but with direct rays of the Canarian sun to shelter from. For this reason it is vital to drink plenty of bottled water in Tenerife, especially when you are travelling and on the move. It is also important to frequently re -apply high factor sun cream to protect your skin from harmful rays, and to cover yourself up as much as possible. It is very important to arrange good travel and medical insurance when visiting Spain, especially against the unlikely chance that you contract a disease such as Malaria or Pneumonia. On that note, insects aren’t generally lethal within this part of the world- large cockroaches and a slight presence of tame mosquitos are the latter. Although the majority of back street restaurants in the south of the Canaries are cheaper, it is always advised to be aware of bouts of Salmonella or food poisoning.

Fake personalities

When visiting Tenerife you certainly need to be aware of people `faking it`. When you come across `tourist information guides` in high visible vests approaching you to assist you, these are often club PR’s haggling with you to get you into their bars. You will be regularly approached by street sellers trying to persuade you to buy their `real gold` trinkets and pirate copied DVD’s. The biggest controversy in Tenerife is people trying to get you to buy `time shares`. These people approach you in the street and greet you with free scratch cards. The scratch cards promise you a free holiday every time if you go to pick up your prize from a local place e.g. a nearby hotel. The phoneys make a deal where you have to attend many time share presentations for as long as you are on your `free holiday`, in the hope you will collaborate with them. The best advice you can follow is not to give strangers your free time to start with and to walk away if you are doubtful.

Freak weather changes

Due to the nature of the Canary Islands having a very drastic climate, it is a good idea to be prepared for freak weather change. Horror stories about tourists being killed while they are abroad are not uncommon, so it is vital to be wise about what problems may arise. Although Tenerife is not prone to hurricanes and monsoons, the weather in the mountains especially can make sudden turns. To stay safe, it is advised to take layers when you are hiking, in case of a dramatic change in temperature- you should always carry something to shelter yourself with if it becomes very hot to avoid sunstroke.

Previous hikers in the Canary Islands have been known to drown while being trapped in the mountains, when giant waves washed over and drowned them. It is very dangerous to be at such high altitudes when freak storms strike although it is not always avoidable- but you must be prepared. You should also take care when you are swimming in open water, especially if you are not a strong swimmer, as the currents can become strong and pull you out to sea.

Typical living costs of a Club Rep

September 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

 

So, what is the typical funding required for a rep-tastic season abroad?

Spain

Flights

Average £130-£150 both ways, depending on time and season of flying.

When booking flights you should regard what time, date and day you are travelling- it will make a great difference to flight ticket costs. If you are booking late/last minute flights, it’s a good idea to use search engines online such as:

www.kayak.com

www.skyscanner.com

These websites will allow you to find the cheapest competitive flights at that time, it may be cheaper to fly out with one airline and return with another. Some airlines such as Monarch ( www.monarch.com) and legendary Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) offer cheap return flights at certain times of the year. You may find yourself touching down at the airport at 12pm midnight and having to use an unfamiliar airport than your usual; but all is fair in love and budgeting.

For more information on flights, go to `Secrets to Booking the Cheapest Flight Possible`.

Accommodation

Types & common prices-average/starting from.

Hostels 15 euro per night/105 euro per week

Apartments 17 euro per night/120 euro per week

B&B’s 20 euro per night/140 euro per week

For more information on accommodation, visit `Secrets to Finding Inexpensive Accommodation`.

Public Transport

 Averaging 8 euro per week

Public transport is very cheap in Spain, short bus journeys within Spanish areas and cities cost on average a few euros. There are many different bus companies networking around Spanish cities, but most are similar in price. It is worth investing in bus cards if you are purchasing fares regularly; such as the `ALSA bus plus card` which are free of charge and save you from paying administration fees.
For example, if you are travelling around Madrid, a single trip costs as little as 1 euro. If you are travelling by bus regularly it is worth getting a Metrobus ticket, which allows 10 journeys by Metro or by bus; the Metrobus ticket costs 7.40 euro.

Medical & Travel insurance 

 Approximately £32-£35 for a single Europe trip cover

Travel insurance rates are very competitive, costs occasionally changing as does currency. You can pick up travel insurance from a number of sources; your local post office, supermarket, travel agent or even as you are booking your flights with a simple click of a box. It is important to find out what kind of cover they are offering for what they are charging- personally I would depend on the Post Office giving me a better deal and peace of mind than booking it last minute with Ryanair or Easyjet.

Food & Drink

E.g. 2 euro coffee and a croissant, 3-4 euro lunch, 5 euro dinner. Approximately 12 euro a day, based on eating out; not including alcohol)

Food and drink is generally very cheap in Spain. Everything from booze to a coffee is very affordable for any budget. Tapas, (small Spanish dishes) are a very good way to budget, you can have a few for yourself or share them amongst friends, they often cost no more than a few euros a dish. Spanish restaurants are reasonably priced and supermarkets are incredibly cheap.

Extra/luxuries

(This part is down to you)

 Take into consideration clubbing,(when you’re not getting everything paid for!) sight-seeing and shopping- luxury expenses vary from person to person. It is always recommended (and preferred!) to allow yourself money to indulge in when you are off-duty. If you are staying in a very lively cosmopolitan type city, you will kick yourself for restricting your savings! Take into account how expensive of a country you are visiting, for example; Spain is considerably cheaper than Britain, and in comparison France and Italy are quite pricy.

Back-up & Emergency

Approximately 100 euro

 Along with good travel insurance it is also very important to take some back-up cash with you whilst travelling in a foreign country. Think transport delays and other unexpected problems. It’s essential to have a little extra funding to ensure you are kept safe- why not stick it on a trusty, insured travel card?

Club Representative average living costs

Flights                        £130-£150 both ways depending on time of flight

Travel Insurance      £32-£35+ depending on length of stay

Accommodation        120 euro per week

Food/Drink                12 euro per day (based on eating out)

Public Transport        8 euro per week

Luxuries                   depending on individual preference

Applying for your summer overseas

August 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

 

 

 Do you picture yourself swanning around mixing with customers of a big company such as Thomson or Thomas cook, or independently nabbing a position at that swanky cocktail bar you were lusting over last spring? Don’t settle for one method of applying for your season abroad- mix it all up and see what gets back to you. It is important to know that within the Club Rep field there comes a lot of competition. It is advised to apply for a variety of different companies, bars and clubs to widen your chances of getting your dream summer.

Applying independently

It is possible to personally apply for clubs/bars directly by contacting their owners. Consider your contacts- (the local bar you visited last summer in Ibiza and chatted often to the bar manager?). Even if a position is not available,the employer may be able to create a position for you if they are fond of you already/think you have something worth offering which will benefit them. Knowing the right people is a sure way of getting your foot in the door. Often Club Rep vacancies are dotted around on the foreign equivelent of e.g. Britain’s Job Centre Plus.

Websites that advertise for Club Representatives

www.eujobs77.com Is home to a website packed with vacancies offered by many different companies, you can search for your vacancy via country.

www.jobzoom.co.uk Offers thousands of careers abroad and useful CV advice, simply type in ‘Club Rep vacancies in Spain’.

www.jobsukwide.co.uk offers everything from job vacancy searches to UK based agencies.

Agencies

Alternatively, you can contact an (e.g. Spanish/your country of choice) agency; which can be found online. Agencies will take into account your skills, and how they are going to fit into your career abroad. They can also assist you with the little things you need to consider when moving and working abroad.

Spanish based agencies to contact

www.agencycentral.co.uk A Spanish and Portugese recruitment agency.

www.wemploy.com A proffesional, trustworthy Spanish employment agency for every type of career and requirement.

www.thinkspain.com/directory Offers listings of Spanish employment agencies determined by the area of Spain in which you are located.

Spanish based employment agencies are recommended (over eg British) whilst working in Spain, due to their extended knowledge of the country itself, and the considerably lower costs you pay for the agencies’ services.

Travel Companies & Tour Operators

If you are interested in working for a Travel Company, for example log onto ‘www.thomson.co.uk/careers’. There will be a specific category on this site for Club Representatives.The popular Travel companies (First Choice,Thomson,Thomas cook) belong to TUI travel careers and show clear listings of the vacancies available along with job descriptions,application forms and small online requirement tests; making searching and applying for Travel jobs easy.You can also sign up for ‘Job alerts’.You are sent e-mails notifying that a new vacancy has been posted. If you are taken into consideration by a Travel Company, group interviews are usually held in a specific (i.e.Thomson) store. You can find out more information at Thomson’s official website and the home of TUI travel careers,

www.thomson.co.uk/careers

You can also find out some extra useful information about Thomas Cook Careers at:

www.careerintravel.co.uk/tour-operators-thomas-cook

If it’s something yet more challenging you are after, perhaps you would like to apply to be a Club Representative with Club 18-30. These representatives undergo intense training and are well sought after. You can find out more information by visiting:

www.careerintravel.co.uk/tour-operators-club18-30

First Choice offer vacancies to work in their ’2wentys` sector. The 2wentys Club Representatives specialize in running scheduled clubbing holidays from the likes of Ayia Napa and Kavos. You can find out more information by visiting:

www.firstchoice.co.uk/2wentys-holidays/

Remember- this is your time to impress!

 

 

Qualities that will get you repping this summer

August 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Working Abroad

Comments Off

As the stereotype goes, Club Representatives are known for being incredibley bubbly, boozy 20-somethings. It’s perfectly normal to contemplate your suitability for any kind of career, let alone diving into one of such furiosity, hard work and guts. The definitive answer to standing a good chance in a Repping interview is being prepared to offer something new to your future employer.

Adios sterio-typical rep. Hola enthusiastic new rep; you.

It is recommended to be prepared for what qualities your future employer will be looking for;

*Club Representatives are required to be a minimum age ranging from 18-21.

*No formal qualifications are required,but ‘Reps benefit from having good selling and promotional skills; useful for earning commision during quiet spells where Rep work is hard to come by.

*Reps are required to have good organizational skills; a neccessity for organizing gigs,events etc.

*Club reps MUST have good stamina- think crazy nights,little sleep; various countries and non-stop working during the summer.

*Club reps must be able to handle waves of feeling stressed,hectic and be able to deal with scenarios effectively- being able to calm situations and relate to all kinds of people in a helpful manner.
*Club reps must have a new, refreshing approach to offer employers.

*Club reps must have a sense of acting sensible in case problems and complications occur.

*Club reps must show enthusiasm and genuine passion for what they do.

*Club reps must gain good knowledge of the area(s) in which they are repping, this is an advantage when planning activities!

*Club reps must be able to work effectively within a team, independantly and within large groups of people.

Next Page »