Jon sends us an update from the British Virgin Islands…
So I didn’t get to go on one of the round-the-world expeditions – not that I was holding my breath to go on a $65,000 fam tour! As a leaving present from TCS & Starquest, I had a sightseeing seaplane tour of Seattle, so I suppose I did get to go on a plane of some sorts. Not that that really mattered anyway, as I had a fantastic placement at a brilliant little company. I finished by presenting my work to the senior management team, and received great reviews from my lovely line manager, Karen.
I was actually quite sad to be leaving, as I had made some good friends and really enjoyed working there, but I was also massively looking forward to getting back to the UK as I had spent the entire placement without Amanda, my (very patient and understanding!) wife. As quickly as I had arrived, I was off again for placement number 5 (this time with Amanda) in the British Virgin Islands…swapping 3 months of UK winter blues for 3 months of Caribbean sunshine!
I’m now in the Marine division, working at the Tortola base – with over 400 yachts it is the largest fleet in the world. In a much-craved operations placement, I’ve been tasked with kick-starting corporate sailing, as there currently isn’t any. It will be a challenging project, having to start from scratch and working more or less solo, but combined with beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather and a little beach-front apartment that I now call home, it’s one that I’m relishing.
Marine base in the British Virgin Islands
Not a bad place to work!
Deborah spends Thanksgiving in the Big Apple…
As a Brit living in America, I was really keen to experience what is arguably the biggest and most extravagant holiday in the American calendar: Thanksgiving. I decided to visit a good friend and fellow Scot up in New York City, where I could really appreciate the atmosphere of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and make the most of the long weekend. By a stroke of luck, we managed to stumble our way into the VIP section, positioning ourselves nicely in the front row (look for us on the TV!). We were also invited to a
traditional thanksgiving dinner complete with a breath-taking view of the New York Skyline. Amazingly, our luck did not end there – we also managed to land 2 front row tickets to a Broadway show for a mere $26. And of course, any trip to the Big Apple would not be complete without some serious shopping!
Now back at work, it’s full steam ahead for the provisioning project which is due to launch by the end of next week. Coordinating the work of several teams has certainly tested my communication and organisational skills, while demanding that I quickly develop my knowledge of both the TUI Marine brands and products. The site is expected to generate around $2million ancillary revenue in the first year, which I think highlights the level of responsibility we graduates are given right from the start.
As for the luxury yacht project I’m currently trying to convince the Marine CEO that I need to experience the product before I can begin to make any decisions…it’s worth a try right?!
Deborah updates us on her first weeks in Clearwater…
In the last three weeks I’ve packed my life into a single (though I’ll admit rather large) suitcase; I’ve spent a week in Sussex absorbing as much knowledge as possible about TUI, the travel industry and even my ‘inner self’; I’ve relocated to Florida (my first visit to the States); and started my first ‘adult’ job in a business area in which I have no experience.
Yet somehow, writing this blog has been my most challenging task so far! How do I convey in a few short paragraphs the warm welcome I have received in joining such a fantastic company, the responsibility I have already been given and the emotions I have felt in trying to overcome the initial challenges of relocating and working abroad?
Starting in the TUI Marine office in Clearwater, Florida, I am working on two projects simultaneously. The first is focused on implementing a new online store for Sunsail and the Moorings provisioning, with the aim that we can greatly increase the revenue made from ancillary food and beverage purchases. I am also looking into the opportunities of entering the ‘Superyacht’ market (64ft-100ft yachts) through either acquisition or organic growth/new product development.
Deborah and Pete throw themselves into the costume competition
It has been said that American’s don’t do anything by halves and Halloween is certainly no exception! I spent my first two weeks at TUI Marine working in the ‘e-Comm Crypt’, skilfully decorated with tombstones, cobwebs and creepy crawlies and complete with zombie sound effects. And of course Pete and I threw ourselves right in to the costume competition.
I also took part in a TUI Marine community project where we worked with Habitat for Humanity building a 3 bed house in the St Petersburg area. I hope those windows are watertight!
Between Halloween dress-up, a bit of manual labour, and several American lunches (that will take more than a few gym sessions to shift) I feel like I have barely begun my Stateside adventure. In fact I still pinch myself each morning to make sure it’s all real. I mean how many people wake up at 7am with a smile on their face, looking forward to their day at work? Long may this continue!
Guy and the difficulty of TUI-coupling plus a trip up north
This week I have been trying to spread the net of TUI Marine wide and look at ways in which we can enhance the customer experience from working with other companies within TUI Travel and TUI AG. So, for families who are debating between a sailing holiday and a jungle trek then in the future they should not have to make this difficult decision. I believe our ethos of “if you dream it, we can take you there” can be fulfilled by creating a multitude of links between our companies allowing holidaymakers to know whenever they book a multi-activity holiday it is organised by the experts of each holiday genre. The problem is TUI is so large and diverse that cementing the first move can be difficult. Perhaps we almost need an internal online dating site for TUI companies with their characteristics and what they would seek in ideal partners – all the better if each company is polyamorous. This could be backed up by actual speed partnering at the next global management meeting.
Meanwhile I have been taking advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to see friends from university and explore some more northern states. I flew into Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where I gorged myself on some excellent Thanksgiving dinner, experienced ‘Black Friday’ shopping hell – as well as soft cinnamon pretzels, visited the state capitol and went to two school reunions. I also managed to get to Washington, D.C. to see all the main sites, visiting the Pentagon memorial (from September 11th), the National Archives and the Air and Space museum. I would have loved to have visited more museums but for time! It was nice to escape Florida to see some familiar faces and a different part of the country, but stepping off the plane in Tampa at 10pm to 22C vs. an earlier 7C in Washington certainly made me feel that whatever negatives I feel about Florida’s endless ugly strip malls and lack of public transport are easily soothed by the fantastic weather. Still, all these reports of snow back in the UK are whetting my appetite for a New Year of downhill and cross-country skiing in Scotland and Sweden.