Vickie Snelgar, who has previously worked in numerous roles in the cruise industry, shares her thoughts on how to remain resilient and plan for the future.
My career to date has delivered immense satisfaction, from leading teams through change, managing projects that deliver real impact to supporting a business through a crisis.
My skillset was regularly challenged as I drove strategic direction, built partnerships with travel agencies and nurtured upcoming leaders through coaching and mentoring.
When people asked me what I did, I always said to them, ‘I sell happiness’. Selling happiness has to be one of the greatest journeys to be part of, turning dreams into reality and creating eternal memories.
Last year started with me clutching a brace of prestigious Cruise Stars Awards, one for Cruise Line Management Star and the other for overall Cruise Line Star. I was on a career high. I had recently transitioned from a business manager role and accepted a six-month contract to launch a new vessel. These events were set to be massive and widely attended. It would be a major achievement to include on my CV. The best was yet to come.
Then the pandemic hit.
Pillar of strength
I imagine there are countless travel industry executives who could script a similar narrative. All eager and ambitious, before the world slammed to a halt.
Along with many equally passionate colleagues, I was made redundant. I kept telling myself it was the role that had been made redundant, not the person, but it was of little comfort. However, the skills I had developed did not let me down and I was fortunate to find a job in relatively short order. I know not everyone has been so fortunate.
My new position took some getting used to. There was always going to be a shift in passion, sense of purpose and feeling lost. But I remind myself daily to stay true to what I believe, and that is to be prepared to give more than is asked and to be resourceful.
There are countless times travel has seen hardship, and through difficult times it has created a strong, robust industry. Reflect on the last 12 months. The industry has supported guests and crew, planned new health and hygiene protocols and launched new vessels virtually.
In travel I firmly believe there is a different heartbeat, a sense of unity. Across social media there has been so much support, helping to make those dark days manageable, and new opportunities have emerged. Truly reflecting on this, it is something we can all take from our industry. We are a pillar of strength.
However, how have I stayed connected to the industry I love? Allow me to share the journey I’ve embarked on and the strategies I’ve implemented.
Reflect and reset
Last year, my sense of purpose, drive and determination evaporated. It struck me that changing my life was an inside job. To reflect and reset.
It was an opportunity to think about the skills and behaviours I had acquired during my time in management and how to use them to move forward.
First, I looked into setting goals. I firmly believe that a lot of problems are of our own creation. A significant initial hurdle comes down to mindset and stopping any mention of ‘can’t’ or allowing negative thoughts to fester. Hence, my focus is now on believing and having confidence.
In my head, there aren’t hundreds of rival candidates – instead, being selected over others will show exactly how hard I’ve worked. I think it’s important to take time when creating goals and to cultivate positivity.
Building a network
A passion of mine has always been nurturing future leaders. Coaching and mentoring individuals and teams and inspiring them to succeed. My network has enabled me to do this over recent times. I have embraced this network and used it to see things through a different lens.
In this day and age, a wide personal network is key and it should be treated like an ecosystem, with a focus on to expand it and add value. For example, don’t just ‘like’ articles, but rather leave a substantial comment and not necessarily one that agrees with the author.
Networking isn’t about clicking and connecting to get the most followers, but rather about planting a seed and the mutual benefits within a network. Like all social media, content is king, and it is about creating quality posts. Constant repetition pays in the long run and opportunities will soon flourish.
What I have found is that people want to help. Listening and accepting support is crucial. After all, nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity. It is important to learn from others and share ideas and best practice.
I’ve had the support of friends, colleagues and former managers, and enjoyed some excellent mentoring and life coach sessions.. In fact, I’ve now volunteered to become a mentor myself – in the business and hospitality management sectors – and feel good about being able to give something back.
As for how rewarding it is to be in the business of selling happiness, well, with the skills and resilience I and so many others learned in travel, it’s time to crack on make that happiness a reality.