Readers' Lives: Cover Star Matt Hands

Readers' Lives: Cover Star Matt Hands

After winning a place on Travel Weekly’s Cover Stars trip to Florida, Matt Hands’ biggest problem was how to tell his wife.

“She’s a Florida fanatic and I had to tell her I was going on a trip without her and the kids,” says Matt, 34. “It was really tough so I just blurted it out very quickly!”

Fortunately for Matt’s family, the trip served to help make up his mind to return to the destination next year.

“We were thinking of going but this trip really opened my eyes and helped me realise my kids would love it,” adds Matt, who has a two-year-old and a four-year-old, and has already booked a villa holiday for next May.

“Just going on the Shrek ride at Universal Orlando Resort made me realise how much my kids would love it.”

The tips and information Matt picked up on his trip to Florida have already helped him sell the destination, from persuading clients to upgrade to premium economy on their Virgin Atlantic flights to suggesting they book tickets to see the Blue Man Group show at Universal CityWalk.

Matt, who still sells holidays despite having a team of 13 staff to manage, adds: “I have got a group of 20 going to Florida for a wedding and I suggested they upgrade as the service on premium economy is brilliant. It really set the tone for our whole trip.”

Staying at the Portofino Bay Hotel was also a highlight for Matt. “It made it a really memorable experience, from getting a ferry to the parks from the hotel to the design of the hotel. You feel like you are in Italy when you are in the middle of a theme park!”

Fortunately, the trip included visits to Orlando Premium Outlets and a chance to redeem himself at home.

“My wife did give me a list of what she wanted so I had to do some Ralph Lauren shopping, and the kids have expensive taste too – they take after their mother!” jokes Matt.

Matt will be recommending others apply for future Cover Stars trips, but not just to see a destination.

“The trip is character-building for you as an individual. Getting your photo taken is great but it’s also about the camaraderie, meeting other agents and hearing their stories. As fam trips go, this was really special.”

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