In 2010, I began working in France on campsites. A day in the life of a campsite holiday rep was always varied and enjoyable, for the most part. Over the years I moved from place to place and progressed into different roles and team sizes.
While a day in the life of a campsite rep on a large site was hectic and filled with cleaning; a day in the life of a Trainer in the French Riviera was filled with keeping staff engaged and teaching them the theory of the job. Each job role has brought new challenges and new people (sometimes challenging people too!) but it has never been boring!
This year has felt quite different again. This year, Lee and I are ‘Couple Site Holiday Representatives’ in beautiful Lake Garda. For the first time, we don’t have a team and have just 23 accommodations and their occupants to look after. A day in the life for us now is quite different from previous years, but still varied.
If you want to get a feel for what a day is like on site, then read on…
One eye opens as you feel around with a hand, frantically searching for your phone. Once that dreaded alarm music has stopped, you open your other eye and squint into the dim light.
You look up at the cotton ceiling and notice the smudge of black and red that was once a mosquito.
“little bastard” you mutter, as you recall the 3 am wake up call of the buzzing around your ears.
Desperate for a wee, you swing your legs over the side of the bed and look down at your pajamas. Short shorts and t-shirt sporting a cartoon animal holding a coffee.
“Can I walk to the shower block like this??” You ask your other half. He shrugs and turns over for a few minutes more of shut-eye.
“Probably not” you mutter to yourself as you un-zip your bedroom, tripping over the lip of the inner as you go. Quickly, you pull your uniform off the nearby chair and grab your toothbrush and paste. Stuffing your feet into flip flops and unzipping the front door, you step out into the light of the morning. 104 steps later, you go to the loo, debating whether to keep your toothbrush in your pocket as you pee or leave it on the sink outside the cubicle.
‘Surely no one would steal a toothbrush, right??’
You walk out to an awkward hello from the male cleaner. You try to block out the sound of a strangers bowl movements as you hum your alarm tune internally and brush your teeth. It doesn’t work, you brush quicker.
You get back to the tent as the work phone begins to ring. You look at your boyfriend as you silently debate who will pick it up. He gives in. It’s someone from the main campsite reception. A guest has left a key there, despite being told to leave it in their accommodation. You roll your eyes.
“why does no one listen?” you ask, half laughing.
The tent is getting warmer by the minute and you skip making a cup of tea in favour of being outside. Grabbing the work tablet, you log into the arrivals list and check who is arriving that day. 4 new families, all have booked linen packs, 2 of them want a cot and highchair and 1 has requested a quiet emplacement. You had to place them next to the road.
You groan internally, but tell yourself it will be fine.
Once you’ve made a note of the accommodations to be cleaned and their requests, you walk round to the store tents. You can feel yourself instantly start sweating as you unzip them and step inside the dusty sauna.
Grabbing two remorques (trollies) you both start loading them with cleaning products and linen packs. Expertly packing them as if it’s a Tetris challenge. Once everything is ready, you know it’s time to get started but something is stopping you. Your stomach rumbles.
“Wanna come open reception?”
“Via the shop? Got any money on you? I could go for a pastry”
You head into the campsite shop to get breakfast. Picking up a couple of pastries and a cold bottle of water, you head to the checkout.
“Ciao!” You like the ladies in the shop. They’re always cheery and basically, just make up low prices for you at this point.
You head to your reception mobile as your partner is sweeping the floors. You shuffle leaflets around and organise some keys you found in your pocket. You’re supposed to wait until 10am, but you know that no one is coming and you’ll see everyone soon anyway.
You both head off to your cleans.
After walking up the street, stopping to chat and say hi to guests as you go. You get into your first mobile. It looks pretty average. Hiding out of view of the windows, you stand and scoff the pastries, chatting about the family that was in there. Your partner seems to know their life story, you can’t remember meeting them.
Brushing crumbs off your shirt, you bring the cleaning products in and go on autopilot. You normally clean bedrooms and bathrooms, while your partner takes on the kitchen. You meet in the middle for the lounge and outsides.
You cringe as you wipe the short and curlies out of the shower. You wipe down the watermarks that are dribbled down the back of the toilet. You tell yourself it’s definitely just water.
Once everything is back to being clean and shiny again, you fill up the mop bucket and get to washing the floors. You chat as you go and speculate on what the next cleans might be like. As you head outside, a customer opposite, calls you over.
“Sorry love, but you don’t have some WD40 in that trolly, do you? Our door is squeaking and everyone can hear us come in at night!” She laughs as she says this. A glint in her eye, as if she and her elderly husband would have been out all night.
You explain that you don’t have any, but you’ll be sure to get some to her later that afternoon.
“Someone coming in today?” she asks, nodding towards the mobile you’ve been cleaning. You smile and say yes. You’ve had this same conversation every morning for the last 8 days. You’re starting to think she waits on the decking for you especially.
“Arrivals every day! Busy busy! But that’s the way we like!” You’re not sure if that is the way you like it. But you’ve said it so often now, you think it must be true.
You politely excuse yourself and join your boyfriend in the next mobile. You see his face before you see the mess. It’s unimpressed.
“Ah man, I liked these guys too” you groan as you look around at the washing up. Although wet and sat on the draining rack, you can still see oil and crumbs sticking to the plates. You open the fridge to find open butter, a collection of kids yogurts, some half-eaten gorgonzola and the remains of a cut lemon. “Gee, thanks” you mutter.
In the bathroom, the mirror is flecked with toothpaste and the toilet covered in sticky yellow spots under the seat. You cringe at the contents of the peddle bin and pull the bag out, tying the top quickly. You take out the empty bottles of shampoo and used razors and bag them, chucking them out onto the decking.
Spray, spray, scrub. Squeeze, scrub, wipe, shine. Scrub, scrub, scrub, spray, scrub, shine. Sweep. Mop.
Disappointed, you recall the conversation you had with the previous family.
“They said they would leave it clean! I even gave them extra bin bags!” you say, glaring at the rubbish peaking out of the bin outside.
After the setback of your second clean, you become painfully aware of the time. The next two cleans are much better, and you make some of the time back.
Your stomach is grumbling again and you gratefully snack on a pack of biscuits left by your favourite guests. You make a mental note to tell people you don’t drink red wine as you pocket a thank you note and place the bottle of Bardolino in the remorque.
With all mobiles ready, cots up, linen in, 2 outside chairs replaced and invent topped up. It’s time for lunch. You swing the pillowcases of dirty linen over your shoulder and push the remorque in front of you, balancing a bag of rubbish on the top.
The work phone rings. It’s the main reception again.
“You have an arrival! Can we send them down?” You want to say no, you want to make them wait until 3pm, but you haven’t got it in you when you know the air-conditioned mobile is ready and it’s 35 degrees outside.
“Sure! I’ll be there in 5!” You say cheerily “Ciao!”
Sweating, you hurry back to the stores and ditch the remorques. Your partner starts unzipping and rolling up every available side of the tent, to let some air in. He agrees to put the pasta on while you’re gone.
Sweating, you hop on a bike and head to the reception. You’re greeted by a young family, the mum hands you the booking voucher and starts eagerly asking questions. “We requested to be in a quiet area.” She announces. You prepare your best smile.
“Have you stayed with us before?” You ask. When she says no, you launch into an explanation of the facilities, area and all the ways you can help them have the best holiday. You show the kids where to find free games and hand the little boy a football. “You can take that with you if you want!?”
Hoping to have won them over a little already, you start to show them where they are staying on the campsite map. You see the change in her face. “Hmmmm, right by the road. Can we be moved?”
Fixing your smile in place, you briefly explain the booking process and how this was the only unit available today. She wants to be moved into another style of accommodation.
You politely explain that it doesn’t work like that, and everything is booked up. You try to focus her attention on the positives of the pitch and talk about it’s proximity to the facilities.
“I’ll tell you what let’s get you settled so you can start enjoying your holiday and we’ll see how you feel tomorrow, ok?” Reluctantly, they agree.
Getting back to the tent, you inhale your pasta. As you sit outside in the shade, two other reps walk by.
“Busy today?” They call out. They work for another company.
“4 for us today, not too bad. You?”
“Ahh we’ve got 3 today, same all week. Got many English coming?”
“Yeah, a few. Mostly families at the mo.”
“Ah, yeah. Same with us. See you later then”
You have had this same conversation, every day, since April. It is now June.
It’s been a tough week for days off, so you’ve been concentrating on getting afternoons off instead. It’s your afternoon to work. You head to the reception at 3 pm and try to give it another sweep. It’s unbearably warm and you sit in a shaded spot outside instead. An hour passes.
The work phone rings. “Hi, we have an arrival for you! Can we send them down?”
You wonder why you’ve bothered waiting if they’re calling you anyway. You also know that some days the afternoon staff don’t call, and your guests have been waiting, hot and bothered for half an hour before you realised. Better safe than sorry.
Once you’ve checked in the next guests, a lovely old couple from Cornwall, touring Europe in their retirement; you wander over to the mobiles. You take the lady from that morning her WD40 and chat for a while. She asks if you are a student, what you do in the winter, and gushes about what she would have done at your age, given the opportunity.
Heading back to reception you see 2 other families. One asks if you have any restaurant recommendations and you tell them all about your favourite spot and how to get there. They ask several more questions about the area and you’re pleased with yourself when you manage to answer them all. The other family is less impressed and wants to know why they have to wear swimming caps in the pool. You politely explain the hygiene benefits and point them towards the campsite shop, where they can purchase a cap for €3.50. You leave before they can argue.
You return to reception to find a message ‘number 5 – corkscrew broke as we were opening wine, help!’ Smiling to yourself, you set off to take them one.
2 families arrive together. You had no idea that they knew each other. Nothing on their booking said they wanted to be placed together. You brace yourself.
Launching into your usual spiel, you tell them about the site and area and reiterate the campsite rules. They ask about check out and you politely but firmly explain that it should be left clean and free from rubbish.
Drawing a circle on the map, you show them the two accommodations.
“Oh good, that’s far enough away!” they joke with each other about not having to be next door and you let out a breath you didn’t know you were holding.
Pleased with the pitches, they leave the reception. Smiles all round.
With all arrivals in and most of the guests seen during the day, you close up the reception. Leaving it unlocked, in case someone wants a book or to return a board game.
You head out one more to time to see if the families leaving tomorrow are in. Catching 2 of them, you explain the check out procedure, the other one is out, so you leave a hanger on the door with instructions.
Stopping to chat with the arrivals from today, you watch as they fire up the BBQ. The lady with the squeaky door calls you over for a glass of wine, but you politely decline her offer, giving the ‘I’m still working, I’m afraid!’ excuse.
You pass the family with the corkscrew, laughing loudly and playing music on the decking. You’re confident they managed to get into the wine.
Another couple stops you on the way down the road. They want to ask about being a rep and what you do for the rest of the year. You have had this conversation 3 times this week already, but you don’t mind. You chat about sites you have worked on and answer politely as they ask about your favourite places.
Eventually, you make it out of the row of customers. And bump into another rep, from another company.
“Many in today, then?”
Finally, you make it back to the tent. Your shirt is stuck to you as you’ve been slowly sweating in the humidity all afternoon. You down some water and grab your shower things, leaving the work phone with your partner.
In the shower cubicle, you fumble with your clothes, giving hook priority to your clean outfit, slinging your damp uniform over the door lock, and throwing your towel over the top of the door.
You keep pressing the shower button to keep the water going. Someone is breathing heavily in the next stall and there is the occasional grunt coming from the other side.
You pull down your clean clothes. Your wash bag comes with it. Shampoo slides across the floor, your deodorant lands with a crack as you bend to grab it, you touch your bare ass to the hot pipe of the taps. Ouch!
Starting to sweat again, you rinse in the coldest water you can bear and then quickly get dressed, gathering your belongings in a wet bundle.
Realising the time, you debate whats for tea.
“Shall we take advantage of all the arrivals being in?” Your partner asks.
Food ordered and sitting with a Spritz, looking out at the lake, you breathe a sigh of content. You stare out at the lake as the sun sets and pick at the bruschetta and olives in front of you. There is live music playing somewhere in the distance. A pair of ducks fly overhead.
You turn to your partner.
“It’s alright here, isn’t it?” You smile as he laughs.
“Yeah, it’s alright here”
Suddenly, you remember it’s Sunday and you haven’t done the weekly linen stocktake.
So there you have it! A day in the life of a couple-site holiday rep! Every day is different and while some may be busy and filled with cleaning and problem solving, others are easy, with 1 or no arrivals. Some days guests may be difficult to deal with but more often than not they are chatty, polite and just want to enjoy their holiday.
Many guests leave bottles of wine as a thank you or invite reps for BBQ’s and drinks and you can meet some great people!
This day was also based on a site with a live tent, whereas many reps now have mobile homes to live in. Accommodation type, size of the campsite, country and area you work in and the other staff on site are all factors that can change your experiences in so many ways! All photos are from various campsites over the years.