A Time for Smiling- Contiki Training Part One

Many have asked me about the training trip with Contiki and for a while I have thought about how and when I would write about it. Having just finished my first season and having been offered regional training next year, the time is now.

I simply cannot condense the immense training trip into one article and so I have broken into more manageable bite size chunks for your enjoyment.

I am not one to beat around the bush and I say things as they are without the cushion people crave. The 66 day training trip to become a tour manager with Contiki is the most difficult and challenging thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding.

I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of my fellow trainees some of whom I met before our journey began through the marvels of today’s technology. Prior to leaving Australia a handful of eager, want to be tour managers, including me, decided it was a good idea to go to Paris for a week before the madness began and try and come to grips with one of the most visited cities in Europe.

Snow! There is a first time for everything.
Snow for the first time.

From our assignment we knew that we would have to name and recite facts of over fifty monuments and places of interest before we could come to grips with what being a tour manager entails. I thought that was a challenge, I was in over my head.

We pranced around Paris in the snow, getting to know each other a little more and making friendships I now cherish more than most. We visited several monuments in Paris and had a few ‘study’ sessions in our tiny but adequate Parisian apartment. I was living in the clouds thinking that this was what training would be like.

Before we were thrown into the depths of the unknown we were told we should participate in a weekend away, an opportunity to experience the product as a client. Having completed a Contiki trip myself the year before I had some idea about what to expect but there were many prospective drivers and tour managers who didn’t know what the company stood for and represented. In hindsight it was a very smart of the company to give us the opportunity to experience the product because¬†ultimately there is no way to sell a product successfully if you don’t know what it is you are selling.

Exploring Liverpool
Exploring Liverpool

We ventured off to Liverpool to and Oxford for three days. With smiles on our faces we did what normal clients do, we got to know each other, we experienced and learnt about the new cities and had a few laughs along the way.

Arriving back in London with a smile on my face and feeling as though the weekend went well I felt prepared for what was to come. Once again, I was silly to think that I was even nearly ready for what was to come and I was quick to wipe that smile off of my face.

Next it was time for Hopfgarten week or what our trainers liked to call ‘kindergarten’ week. You need to crawl before you can walk, or run in our case and boy you had to learn quick or you wouldn’t be around for long.

That is all I am going to leave you with for now as this was the time for smiling, before the real work began and the smiles were still around but between the serious working face.

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