The jobs market has been tough for young people in recent years with the recession forcing many travel companies to downsize and rethink training schemes.
So when Abby Esmond left college in 2008, aged 18, at the beginning of the recession, she thought it would be difficult to find a job in travel.
“I left college with two A Levels in travel and tourism. I knew the jobs market would be tough so couldn’t believe my luck when a job for a consultant came up at The Co-operative Travel in West Durrington, Sussex.
“My best friend decided to go for the same job, but it was never an issue between us and she was really pleased for me when I got the job.”
Fast forward nearly three years after leaving college and 20-year-old Abby is now assistant branch manager and the proud owner of the 2011 Agent Achievement Award for Young Travel Professional of the Year.
“I went up to the awards ceremony in April and couldn’t believe it when I heard my name read out. I am so grateful to my branch manager Charlene Allen and regional manager Fiona who nominated me – they didn’t even tell me until I had made the shortlist.”
Abby became assistant branch manager in July 2010 after only 18 months at the agency. “Charlene asked me to apply for the position after the way I dealt with a challenging start to 2010,” says Abby.
The agency closed for a month-long refit in January, however, it didn’t reopen until May due to some contractual problems.
Abby said: “During that time all four of us from the branch had to decamp to our Worthing branch, where we had to share one computer and still keep the bookings coming in.”
To add to the problems, branch manager Charlene was diagnosed with detached retinas and temporarily lost her sight. “Charlene was bed-ridden for six weeks, so I had to take over; I was a bit nervous about making big decisions, so ended up calling Charlene a lot for advice. She has now returned to work and has the sight back in one eye.”
The branch was reopened by the mayor in May, and according to Abby, business has been booming ever since. So what does the future hold for Abby?
“For the time being, I’m happy to stay as assistant branch manager, but branch manager would be my dream job some day.”
- Becoming assistant branch manager in 18 months
- Topping her annual sales target within eight months
- Completing an NVQ Level Two in customer service in eight months – it takes most students more than a year
- Organising a cruise event at the agency that brought in £20,000 worth of bookings on the night
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