From work experience in a travel agency to assistant franchise manager at GoCruise, Ami Fargher’s career has been plain sailing.
Ami Fargher first went overseas to Menorca when she was 11 and that’s when she decided she wanted to be a holiday rep. She did some work experience in her local travel agency and was offered a full-time job there after finishing her A-Levels.
She spent four years at the Co-operative Travel agency in Stowmarket.
“At the time a cruise enquiry was pretty rare, so it was quite daunting,” she recalls. But her next move immersed her in the cruise world, working for Fred Olsen Travel as a cruise consultant.
“It was in the days of Teletext and in the early days of holidays on the internet. I sold all kinds of cruises. Bookings were mainly offer-led, direct-mail-driven. Customers often knew exactly what they wanted to book.”
“I worked there for a year and then I happened to be free and single, so I went to fulfil my dream of becoming a holiday rep.”
Ami did a summer in Menorca, a winter in Madeira and then 12 months in Florida, all with First Choice.
“Being a rep allowed me to spread my wings and become more independent. Every day was different; I could be sitting with guests listening to what a great day they had had and then be off to the airport to deal with disgruntled guests after a flight delay. I also remember the day when hand luggage was immediately banned and I had to go along the check-in queue telling guests they were no longer allowed hand luggage. That was quite a day.”
She also worked as cabin crew for First Choice for two summers.
“I flew mainly short-haul from Stansted to the Balearics, Turkey and Spain. When you’re crew, you learn so much about customer service and relying on teamwork to get the job done. It was great fun, but ultimately I wanted to be more grounded, so I returned to Fred Olsen Travel in Ipswich.”
She joined the GoCruise team as cruise administrator, helping to support the agency’s network of franchisees around the country. Within 18 months she had been appointed assistant franchise manager. There are currently 62 GoCruise franchisees across the UK including Northern Ireland and Scotland.
“The franchisees are my customers,” she explains. “I might be answering questions about cruise products, telling them about campaigns, problem solving, and generally giving encouragement and support. All our franchisees are cruise specialists but they don’t always have a travel industry background, so I can help fill in the gaps for more involved itineraries.”
GoCruise hosts two conferences a year for its members and regular training sessions or meetings in-between. “That face-to-face is important when you work from home so you feel less isolated. And I make sure I’m always available on the phone – even if the franchisee just wants a chat or to air frustrations.”
She also helps those franchisees when they do consumer shows, making sure they’re working with the most appropriate cruise lines for the area and have the right materials. To keep her knowledge fresh she likes to take part in ship visits. “It’s another chance to meet the franchisees and it’s training for me too. I do all the cruise line training, because I encourage all of the franchisees to do it – and you have to practice what you preach.”
She also tries to cruise herself, whenever she can, preferring the “relaxing calm of Princess” and Royal Caribbean for “pure fun”.
“I’d love to stay in cruise,” she adds. “I feel very lucky to attend the various cruise conferences and events. Even though it’s a group of competitors working together, everyone is so warm and welcoming. It’s the people that make the cruise industry.”