This week we interviewed tour manager Eddie Brooks who has been working with Newmarket Holidays for around 12 years. He’s guided so many of our tours and we receive great feedback about him from our customers. He’s always cheery – nothing is too much trouble and we can really rely on him to remain calm when, from time-to-time, things don’t happen quite as they should.
1. Which tours have you guided with Newmarket and which is your favourite?
For tours I’ve guided, the list is pretty long! In the UK there’s the Cotswolds, Scarborough and the Highlands. In Ireland I’ve guided Dublin and Killarney. In Europe there’s The Rhine, Amsterdam and Maastricht, Brussels, Ghent and Bruges, Austria, Luxembourg – the list goes on. I have covered so many tours that it’s really difficult to pick a favourite… they are all great trips. My favourite at the moment – well it’s perhaps a toss-up between Germany and the Netherlands – although the biggest buzz I get is definitely covering the Andre Rieu concerts in Maastricht.
2. What do you enjoy most about the job?
Without any doubt it’s the people; the people you meet and the fun you have. For me, they go hand in hand; to have fun you need people and if you have people you have the perfect ingredient to have fun.
3. What makes a great tour manager?
There are all the obvious ones; confidence, being a people person, understanding, humour, empathy etc. But as we are all individuals I don’t think there is any one or any one hundred things that make a great tour manager. I know many excellent tour managers but there are no two alike. I do think that they use their individual abilities to the utmost for the benefit of their passengers.
4. What in particular do you bring to the job?
Besides a lot of laughs, I talk to every single passenger on the coach and ask them questions. I like to find out their expectations – what they want to do and see while on tour – I then do my utmost to cover all the points. I always give out area maps as we approach the place we are visiting. The maps will already have points of interest marked on them – especially those that the passengers particularly want to see. I then cover the usual points of interest in my commentary along with additional points that the passengers have mentioned to me. It makes a tour altogether more personal.
5. What piece of kit would you not leave the home without?
My Samsung tablet and tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cups, lids, sugar and milk… everything I need to make hot drinks for the passengers if the coach does not have any on board. Serving drinks is a very easy way to start conversations.
6. Do any funny/touching moments with customers stick out in your memory?
We left Norwich on our way to the Royal Horse Show at Windsor during the Queen’s Jubilee year. We stopped at Birchanger Services and South Mimms for a break and to pick up passengers. Everyone got off the coach at each stop to stretch their legs. When we arrived at Windsor a lady came to me almost in tears – she said that she needed a shoe shop. I thought she had broken a strap or a heel but had to restrain my laughter when I saw what she had done. She had boarded the coach in Norwich and even though she had been off the coach twice, she only realized when she arrived at Windsor that she had forgotten to put her shoes on when she left home. She was wearing yellow fluffy flip flop house slippers and was very upset. Google was on hand and a shoe shop quickly located.
7. Which destination is at the top of your bucket list?
As a holiday destination; Russia.