Rach- Head of Retail
Describe your career in Virgin Holidays?
My career has spanned 10 years with Virgin Holidays and in that time my career has developed in a jungle gym fashion, moving up and across into differing roles. I started my Virgin Holidays life as a Store Manager in Basingstoke and within 3 years moved up through larger stores and duel managing, finally leading to Regional Sales Manager- South. I have a great passion for driving sales and engaging teams to deliver the great experience that Virgin are known for, which aided my success in that short time.
Later, I achieved a promotion to Head of Customer Centre, coming away from front facing retail and into VHQ to lead our call centre sales team. An opportunity then came up in the Trading Delivery Team, it was all great experience getting involved with trading plans, travel expenses and managing famiarisation trips, this led me to The Head of E-commerce.
Wanting to add another layer of knowledge and understanding of the true Omni channel approach that Virgin Holidays offers, this role encompassed the online design, look and feel that our customers experience in the booking process. Such great exposure and expanded my know-how and ultimately helped with my internal networks and self-development.
I do feel now I have gone full circle and returned “home” to Retail with a wealth of knowledge and expertise to drive this area of the business forward. I’ve always felt like I’ve had support for development, but equally I have taken ownership for actively developing my career, taking more responsibility in each role where I could. I look forward to what the future will bring me from here.
What does your role involve?
It’s such an exciting time in retail and my role leans towards leading the transformation plans, this includes the 11 new V-Rooms that are opening this year. It’s just fantastic seeing the evolution that our stores have taken from when I first joined- the innovation and design are incredible and it’s great to now be leading on this project. We will also continue to leverage the Next concession relationship so my role involves developing those partnerships and considering how we can actively revive the retail estate.
Another big part of my role is the engagement and development of the retail team, so coaching and developing the Divisional Managers and translating these skills and the retail strategy to our sales teams. We do everything we can to get to create excitement around crafting the phenomenal experiences for our customers.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love that we have such a fantastic opportunity to raise the bar in retail travel. Our heritage stands firm in that we are still an innovative organisation, we have less red tape than some companies and we like to encourage all the passionate people to share ideas and best practice.
What has been your best memory so far at Virgin Holiday?
Coming back to retail, has been a massive highlight. On my first day in role I went straight back to the floor so to speak and visited a number of stores in the north. In store there used to be basic desks, a sprinkling of brochures and offers printed out. Today the stores encompass the Virgin brand and create the perfect environment for our customers to start their shaping their holiday experience. Seeing the true Omni channel experience evolve, our customers can get a true seamless virgin experience whether they book online, through the call centre or in our retail stores.
How would you describe the culture at Virgin Holidays?
No idea is a bad idea here, you are encouraged to think out of the box and bring ideas to the table. We encourage our stores to get out in their local area and develop relationships that will drive performance, we share successes, and help teams replicate these successes. We do have a strong culture of career development here, there are plenty of stories to share of people joining the business as Personal Holiday Advisors who then go onto to Store or Area Management.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining the retail team at Virgin Holidays?
If you enjoy customer interaction and delivering great service then go for it! Virgin is different, it’s not just a ‘travel agent’ it’s about having ownership to drive the customer experience we offer and use your skills to sell our differentiated product. For our retail teams where possible we get them out on at least 1 familiarisation trip per year, and offer some great competitions and incentives along the way too.
Top Travel tip
Safari in Africa is an absolute must in terms of destination, there is so much to discover from beaches, wildlife and vineyards- but just don’t forget to take your antibacterial gel!
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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