Dawson & Sanderson takes apprentices on fam trip

Eight apprentices from Dawson & Sanderson have returned from a dedicated fam trip to Spain as part of their training with the northeast miniple.

The three-day trip to Salou was organised in partnership with Jet2.com and H10 Hotels, with the agents using attraction DoSomethingDifferent attraction passes and flying from Newcastle airport.

Julie Cloe, general manager, said: “It is great to see their confidence grow once they’ve been on a trip to get the full understanding of what the possibilities of becoming a full-time travel consultant – and how they can sell that destination to the customer.”

The apprentices stayed in the family orientated H10 Salauris Palace and toured the H10 Vintage Salou, to see the difference between two different properties.

They also visited PortAventura and Ferrari Land and studied the costs of passes to help with sales – and took a day trip to Barcelona by train.

“It was a brilliant opportunity for them,” said Cloe. “It is important to instil in them that it is not a holiday; it is work and we want to see what knowledge they’ve gained from that trip and how they are going to use that within their branches with customers.

“The best fam trip best report will feature on our website blog page as well.”

She said this cohort of eight apprentices started last September and is the first since pre-pandemic times.

The apprentices are half-way through their course, with additional training and tailored support from AS Training, in order to gain a Level Three travel consultant qualification – equivalent to two A levels.

Cloe said it has been important for the agency chain to “enrich” the apprenticeships with practical, hands-on experiences and training-focused events.

“For National Apprenticeship Week [in February] we brought them together and brought in staff that also started with Dawson & Sanderson as apprentices, so they could share their experiences,” she said.

“We got the apprentices involved in our annual [company-wide] business event November. We got them on stage and asked them questions about why they went down the apprenticeship route.

“They’re so important to us. They bring new talent and energy to our workplace.

“It’s great to have this youth coming through to help some of us, like myself, who’ve been in the job for so long to have a completely different overview of travel.”

Another recent trip took the apprentices behind-the-scenes at Newcastle airport and earlier this week they visited Fred Olsen’s Balmoral cruise ship, docked in Newcastle.

“They will also go to our touring training event with Newcastle airport at the Crowne Plaza at Newcastle, with suppliers discussing their different products,” added Cloe.

“Touring is a big thing at the moment so we want them to get a good overview of different suppliers – a lot of people are doing bucket list trips.”

The apprentices are also involved in a project with the agency’s marketing team.

“They’ve got really good ideas and suggestions about how we market to and engage the younger holidaymakers,” said Cloe.

“A lot of younger adults don’t know what a travel agent does. We’ll try to get some of that market.”

The apprentices are spread over a wide geographical area, with one in Doncaster, one in Carlisle and the rest in the northeast and Teesside, so sessions with AS Training take place online with Teams.

AS Training has also ensured the apprentices have attended webinars with Dawson & Sanderson’s top 20 suppliers.

The apprentices also have a mentor in their branch, usually a former apprentice.

Cloe noted another positive is the fact that the apprentices are doing well with sales.

“We’ve not normally seen as many actively booking like they are at the moment, so I do think that it’s worked with the improvements that we’ve done,” she said.

“Everybody’s guaranteed a full-time position within the company on passing the qualification.”

She aims to recruit another cohort of apprentices to start in September to build on the successes with the current trainees.

“They learn the Dawson and Sanderson way, the way we want them to work,” she said.

“Fam trips were certainly one of the perks that drew me to the job…so it is nice to be able to confidently say to people that there are lots of fam trips.

“After Covid, [the industry] lost a lot of skilled staff from travel, so this is a great way to get people into travel and build our workforce.”

Judith Alderson, corporate and commercial director, added: “Dawson & Sanderson’s apprenticeship programme is extremely valuable to the company and recruiting and training a set of qualified and enthusiastic travel consultants to join our existing team of highly experienced and long serving colleagues certainly gives us a workforce who are integral to our future plans for business success.”

Michelle Van Sprang, director at AS Training, commented: “We have a fabulous working relationship with Dawson and Sanderson and it has been a pleasure to watch this last cohort of apprentices grow in confidence.

“Our team actively attends events and supports the learning journey – two of our assessing team are joining the D&S apprentices onboard the Fred Olsen cruise ship and last week one of our assessing team met them at Newcastle airport.

“Our partnership with Dawson and Sanderson has created fantastic opportunities for those seeking a career in the travel industry.

“Working together we have created a suitably ambitious apprenticeship journey that incorporates specialist training, experiences and relationship building.

“Our tailored delivery meets the needs of each apprentice and their individual learning styles to ensure we get the very best outcome.

“Experiencing products and services first hand is a fantastic way of bringing the training to life by creating these opportunities for each apprentice, it enhances their apprenticeship learning journey and lays solid foundations to form a long-lasting career within travel.”

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