Hema- Destination Manager, Worldwide & Caribbean
Tell us about yourself?
I joined the business 7 years ago after seeing an advert for an apprenticeship. When I was at college I just wasn’t resonating with any particular subject so I started my apprenticeship in Business Admin as part of the purchasing team. It was a great experience whereby I got exposed to lots of different projects, conferences and events. After the year there was an opportunity for a perm role that I managed to secure.
I then moved into a Contracts Executive role, then achieved a promotion to Assistant Manager in Product Services where I definitely had my juggling skills tested. The next natural step was to go for the Destination Manager role, another promotion that I feel so proud to have achieved. I’m so grateful to all the support and development that I have received to get me to this level, the people seriously make Virgin Holidays.
What does your role involve?
Destination Managers manage the whole of the Buying cycle, so network closely with our suppliers. We negotiate the best rates, through to getting those rates loaded and available for sale online or via store- all in the name of getting the best price for our customers. It’s a role where we interact with pretty much every area of the business so whether its securing product media exposure, supporting with issues in destination to training our sales teams the Destination Manager role is all encompassing.
No two days are the same, and sometimes the hours are intense. Equally we have great perks to the role including lots of destination travel, trade shows and dinners- it’s a great role is you are sociable!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I really love the people I get to work with every day, that’s both my team and the great suppliers that we encounter daily. The role offers lots of creative freedom and autonomy, and I love that I can have a direct impact on the customer experience. I’m not going to the lie, the travel is fantastic too! I think in the past 5 years I’ve been on about 20 trips around the world.
As I was part of the first Apprentice group that Virgin Holidays had, I’ve become an ambassador for the Apprenticeship scheme. I have been lucky enough to speak at conferences and events sharing my apprenticeship journey. I also now manage my own apprentice, so its nice to support someone else’s development.
What has been your best memory so far at Virgin Holidays?
I was lucky enough to have a life changing moment whilst working at Virgin, a brilliant manager allowed me to take extended annual leave so that I could take a backpacking trip round Asia. I had a truly amazing experience but coming back, mostly it had helped with my confidence. I was less introverted, more confident and was able to build better relationships. By allowing me flexibility at that time definitely impacted how my career has developed and unfolded.
Another great experience I had was on a trade trip to Thailand where I got to drive my own tuk tuk! We took a tour through the mountains, the views were stunning. It was incredible and a unique experience that I doubt I would have got otherwise.
How would you describe the culture at Virgin Holidays?
Fun vibes, with a great family feel to it, particularly in Product we work really closely together. The people absolutely make it. There is a high expectation of hard work and dedication, for example time zones don’t always allow for 9am-5pm- you work when your suppliers are awake! There is a real sense between everyone to give incredible service and do what’s right for our customers, so it can sometimes be a 24 hour job.
What would your advice be to anyone thinking of joining Virgin Holidays?
If you have a passion for travel you’re heading for the right place, especially if you want a flexible, fun open environment, and career progression.
Any top travel tips?
My top travel trip! Always pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage- and get a Sim Card at destination (in a world of Uber it’s a necessity).
Career Opportunities at Virgin Holidays
People are central to Virgin Holidays’ success and if you’re interested in joining us we have a wide range of roles available from Apprenticeships to Leadership Roles as well as amazing learning and development opportunities.
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