My task was to look after the Southern European and Emerging Markets and organise and book familiarization trips for them. I was looking after and managing the budget allocated for the fam trips as well I had to make sure that the experience delivered to those tour operators was matching every specific market expectations. It was also down to me to match the appropriate Scottish suppliers with the right delegates (I had to extensively got to know the companies’ profiles to know what sort of products/services they were looking for/selling to their clients).
Therefore, I had to learn how to skilfully negotiate beneficial conditions for myself without compromising the quality of the delegates’ experience and still making sure that the Scottish trade will benefit from their visit and that each delegate will find a potential partner that they will then work closely with. I also had to work closely with my colleagues who are in charge of these markets to find out what the delegates who are attending the trip are looking for to make sure that the trip is tailor-made to them and that I introduce right buyers to appropriate Scottish suppliers.
PROCESSES INVOLVED: -What happened A 2 days training was scheduled at the beginning of my job where my line manager talked me through a life example of booking an Expo fam trip (including accommodation, meals, attractions, blue badge guide, coaches) giving me useful tips on how to approach Scottish suppliers and list of suppliers willing to assist and host the groups. Additionally, I have been given a folder with step-by-step instructions containing guidelines that I needed to adhere to with regards to budget and it was down to myself to familiarise myself with the content of the folder.
Also, I was advised to schedule few meetings with my colleagues who were in charge of the markets I was assigned to organise fam trips for (Spanish, Italian Portuguese, Indian, Central European, Russian, Mexican and Brazilian). This was to introduce me to the markets’ requirements and expectations in order for me to be able to tailor-made each trip and introduce right buyers to appropriate Scottish suppliers. However, some members of staff were either away or very busy which postponed the meetings and, as a result, meant that I was not instructed until very late (in some cases mid February/early March).
Consequently, I was unable to start the booking process of the trips until then which left me with very little time. Similarly, one team member who was responsible for liaising with incoming tour operators regarding the opportunity for them to host the dinners for the delegates did not meet his/her deadline and I was given the task. Moreover,, as the person who was assigned the task of organising and distributing welcome bags for the delegates has left the company, there was no one else appointed to take over the task, which I have then volunteered to take this on.
However, again, this was not revealed until fairly late before the event. Finally, amongst many other tasks my role involved updating number of databases and spreadsheets. How did you feel about it I was very excited about my new post. Although I had no previous experience in similar role I have the positive can-do attitude and I like challenges and when combining them together I felt that I was up to the challenge. The two teams I was working closely with very all very friendly and hard-working. I have received a great amount of guidance and suggestions from them and the support they provided me during my time there was invaluable.
Most of the team was making extra efforts and going the extra mile to coach myself and two other Expo assistants and provide us with all the product and market knowledge necessary for us to be able to perform our tasks up to their standards and expectations. I have noticed that I have had better working relationships with the persons who have been more organise and demanding as this is how I work as well and this has made my role easier as I knew how to manage mine and their time wisely and efficiently. They very really pleasure to work with as their organisation kept my role easier and to the point without causing any unnecessary stress.
I have also been constantly praised by my colleagues for my hard-work and great negotiation skills and results as this was greatly contributing towards their targets and results. It felt good to be appreciated and knowing that I was of help and there was not a situation that my request for help or question was ignored, but instead I got the impression that the team was very much bonded together and felt the shared responsibility for the project. However, few team members seemed to be more reserved as well as less helpful.
It was hard for me to arrange a meeting with them to get an introduction to their market, hence, my work on those particular fam trips has been vastly postponed. In one occasion I was given a free hand to plan and design the trip with very little suggestions and help and very close to the actual event I was informed that there were changes needed. I have found it extremely difficult to work with those team members and I felt that their attitude was very unprofessional and has costed me a lot of stressful situations. There was also a lot of unnecessary pressure and tension at some points which was simply due to lack of communication from them.
I felt that I was left to myself and it gave me the feeling of great weight of responsibility and inconvenience which I did not feel fully confident with. In terms of the last minute tasks I was assigned to, I felt puzzled at the beginning not knowing where to start. I felt the weight of the responsibility on my shoulders and I felt pressurised with the clock ticking and deadlines approaching. Because of a relatively short notice I was given for those task, I was concerned that I may not be able to accomplish it on time.
Teamwork was very important with this task as it was up to each team member to populate all relevant spreadsheet for my database. Still, I had to follow up and rush some people which was time-consuming for me. I felt that I was exposed to a lot of unnecessary stress due to those few people who were running late with their own tasks which then affected everyone else’s performance. However, on the positive note, all those situations made me learn how to manage the time efficiently and how to prioritize my tasks in order to make suitable arrangements in time.
Overall, as my role continued, I found myself really facing number of new challenges and managing meeting the deadlines. I was pleased that my colleagues were overall very satisfied and responded positively to my progress and results and at the end, everyone worked hard and stayed long overtime to put the event together. The role brought heavy discomfort initially and extensive pressure in the short term, and it made me realised that there was need for improved system. I was offered lots of advices on how to work effectively and, gradually, I have developed the confidence and skills I needed which led to feeling of control over the situation. What did you do as a result I have tried to be as helpful as I could and come forward with ideas and suggestions. Also, I have done my best to make sure that all the projects were accomplished ahead of time where possible to allow me some time for amendments if needed as well as to allow my colleagues who were in charge of each particular market’s trip to check and approve it as I did not want to put them under unnecessary ‘last minute’ pressure. I have been in close communication with other team members asking questions if clarification was needed and to avoid mistakes and to ensure a smooth operation.
I regularly updated the databases in order for everyone to be able to access updated information and whenever I felt I had a free moment I offered help to my colleagues. I have also undertaken number of smaller tasks to help my colleagues. With regards to the last minute tasks, I tried to manage my time wisely and prioritize assignments. ANALYSIS OF LEARNING: -How did your group perform as a team Overall, my team’s performance still came up very high and all the assigned tasks were accomplished on time. All of my colleagues managed to meet the tight deadlines.
On few occasions, however, due to late arrangements or amendments, some information from several of my colleagues was not up to date which affected the performance of other team members, the team, however, seemed to be genuinely well bonded and caring for each other and help and assistance was offered instantly if needed. Generally speaking, due to early preparations and planning ahead, the work on the project was mainly smooth with the exceptions of few tasks handled by the less organised team members.
From the delegates and suppliers’ comments, the whole event in general was a big success generating fantastic image of Scotland and potentially more tourism traffic to the country. -What did you learn Overall, I believe that I had pulled this off quite well managing to satisfy my college and not compromising my own job. I have learned that ‘no one is perfect, but a team can be’ (Belbin 2010:4) and it made me realize that who much the team’s performance depends on the individual’s work solely.
International Marketing department has a strong teamwork, all members of the teamparticipate hard fulfilling designated role and sharing factual information. The team is very close and solicits input from team members by consulting others on team matters, asking for ideas and opinions and works together to form decisions and plans. I have also learned that regardless how hard everyone in a team works, it has to be without exceptions, as it is enough for one team member to fail his/her duties to pull the whole team down with the overall results. -What would you have done differently
I would ensure that that before the Expo Assistants start their role in January, the team is ready to hand over the details of the proposed trip and conducts the induction with their assistant at a relatively early stage to ensure that the Assistant is left with reasonable amount of time to perform his/her task to the standards required. Similarly, I would prevent the very last minute tasks handing over to the new members of the team with no previous experience of similar role or I would present the task at the beginning as part of their role and give them enough time to manage the task successfully.
Also, I would suggest keeping the number of spreadsheets to be filled out minimum and instead I would have a master database from which other databases can be automatically created and which would be fed from the master one. Finally, I personally think that the amount of work expected to be done by the Expo Assistant in a relatively short space of time is too much and I would suggest to either extend the period over which it is done or spread it across more team members. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT -How can you use what you have learnt
The experience gained during assisting with organising the VS Expo exhibition and fam trips was an valuable learning process for me. I have learnt from my observations how important it is that everyone contributes equally to the team performance as from their work other people’s performance may heavily depend. Similarly, the experience made me realized that it imperative to plan ahead and manage the time wisely in order to obtain the most successful results. Lastly, the skills gained during the project are invaluable and I hope to benefit from the increased confidence, team-work and negotiation skills in my future career development.