Meet Alison Banks, TMs’ business partnership manager for SA and WA, who once completed a ‘polar plunge’ and and believes travellers should always be nice to cabin crew.
1. When and how did you get started in travel?
20 years and my first industry job was a Tour Manager in Europe with Contiki Holidays in 1994 (I was a Primary Teacher prior to this!).
2. What’s your most amazing travel experience?
Completing a “polar plunge” (head submerged) in icy waters in Hammerfest, Norway. It was a case of an “instant migraine” and a few vodka shots before and after (to build up the courage prior and to numb the pain after). You got a certificate saying that you had survived it though and I used to be all for earning certificates! Ah, the stupidity of the young!!!
3. What is the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Housekeeper/Companion for a Canadian/Belgian Baroness in London while she was recovering from a stroke. It was definitely a case of “living in another world”!
4. What was the first country you travelled to?
A 21-day South Pacific cruise on “Fairstar, the fun ship” with my parents when I was 14… need I say anymore?? (Mind you, it gave me the “bug” and I went off to Malaysia as an Exchange Student a few years later).
5. What destinations are on your bucket list?
Mauritius; Croatia and Slovenia; Hawaii; South America – yep, all of it!; Kenya and Tanzania; Jordan; Oman; Oh, let’s face it, the list is endless!
6. Who was your biggest mentor/influence growing up?
My family. Mum’s the youngest of seven children, Dad the second eldest of four and I am the youngest of 30 first cousins. I had a cousin tour the UK by push bike when I was about eight, another cousin moved to Milan, one to Gottenburg and one to Montana all before I was 12. I was always going to get out and see the world with these inspiring rellies telling me how good it all was out there!
7. How has working in travel changed you?
Travel provides the opportunity to see how other people live. To appreciate the differences but to ultimately truly understand that people are people and fundamentally, we are the same. We all want to be happy, have the ability to keep our families safe and healthy and there are good and bad everywhere! Travel increases the ability and the tendency to empathise.
8. What is your biggest life achievement to date?
That’s a tough one… Probably surviving my Contiki Training Trip in 1994. I made lifelong friends, learned how to operate at my best in the toughest of times with sleep deprivation and being heckled constantly by my Training Manager and went on to enjoy a wonderful number of years taking people from around the world through Europe, Russia and Scandinavia and was paid to do it! Some of the best years of my life and I’m forever thankful for this opportunity.
9. What is your number one in-flight travel tip?
Be good to the crew. They have the power to do nice things for you and it’s just courtesy anyway… everyone is in it together and there’s never a good reason to be rude.
10. One tip you for new cruisers?
Book with a cruise specialist/Cruise Manager! So many people are attracted by price alone and end up choosing a ship/ cruise line that isn’t the most appropriate for them. Your experience could be so much better if you consult a professional and choose the best ship/cruise line for your requirements and tastes that also comes within your budget. A “cheap deal” isn’t cheap in the end if it doesn’t give you the type of experience you were looking for!
11. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the travel industry?
Don’t expect to run before you can work. It’s a wonderful industry full of amazing and inspiring people. Be prepared to put in the groundwork and learn all you can. Most importantly, invest time and effort in building relationships… despite the digital age, fundamentally I believe it is still a people business.
Have a question for Alison? Leave it below and we’ll get you the answer.
Getting to Know You is our good will gesture to promote the TIME program. The TIME program is focused on a Mentor/Mentee relationship that is ‘mentee-driven’. Mentors are drawn from the senior ranks of the industry and have generously volunteered their time and energy to the mentor process. They are matched to Mentees on the basis of non-conflicting business skills and experience that enables them to offer advice and perspective to the Mentee. The role of the Mentor is to hold their Mentee accountable and to offer challenging ideas that will inspire the Mentee, helping to building the individuals self confidence through praise, encouragement and constructive feedback.
If you are interested in joining TIME as a mentor or mentee visit their website
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