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You should be a ghost, Aussie agent tells consultants

February 13, 2014 Corporate, Headline News 5 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Ghosts haunting hotels or cruise ships have several advantages over living, flesh-and-blood human beings – they do not leave finger marks, drop food or souvenir small items as they go.

A well-known South Australian travel agent and industry commentator is advising travel consultants to “be ghosts” when they visit properties on educationals. Max Najar, chairman and chief executive of Axis Travel Centre (established 1978) feels so strongly on the issue he has drawn up a 25-point guidance plan for agents and consultants taking famils or educationals. “Be a ghost” he reiterates.

“Being offered and accepting an educational is not a right. It is a privilege,” Najar declares. PTM_250-x-250

“Invited travel, tourism and hospitality staff have a common-sense and ethical commitment to uphold, via courtesy, manners and respect,” he says. “They not only represent their employer, but also the supplier that has put the educational or site visitation/cruise inspection together.

“You should be a ghost. You should be able to walk in, inspect, walk out of a room, cabin, seated area or whatever and not adjust, abuse, dirty, mess, steal, loan or in any way disrupt what is already there.

“It costs hotel staff and others much money to have to re-send cleaning staff, room housekeeping or others to fix the mess you made, clean dirt you left, finger marks you soiled or replace items you took (even if the staff were far too courteous to say “no” to you when they should have!)”.

Here is Najar’s 25-point code of conduct for use on educationals.


  1. Read the proposed itinerary and see what room/time you have to do other things in free time periods to extract the most from this educational. Always inform tour escort(s) if variations are allowed. You can drink in a bar or swim in a pool for hours anywhere – so maybe balance time better!
  2. Obtain destination/product data before arrival; currencies; read up on history and local icons.
  3. Only accept an educational offer if you should attend – otherwise offer your invitation (if allowed) to another staff member who may be better suited on the educational, for a variety of factors. Participating should not gauged by age or sex but on marketing potential for sales, agency experience, desire and ability to sell.
  4. Remember that the style, travel class, itinerary or standards may not be what you like – but we need to sell a myriad of products to a myriad of pax, so an unbiased, open-minded approach is needed.
  5. Bring enough business cards, with a highlighter pen and pen with small notepad or Ipad/PDA .
  6. Know beforehand the areas, hotels, cruise or other products with rates before you depart and if possible know what the suppliers’ descriptions are, to compare what they say with what you experience.
  7. Provide a written office report within 10 days of your return to base, to your office and the principal(s), if so asked, These can be typed with photos/DVD/CD or uploaded and emailed.
  8. No loud talk or laughter whilst inspecting. Be a ghost but ask appropriate questions where necessary.
  9. Never boast to public that you are “doing it all free” or “hugely discounted”. This is stupid and embarrassing.
  10. Consider zero alcohol drinking. In fact drink less when away, if you need to at all. This policy should be an auto default as it is better to be safe and abide by ever-changing conditions to not offend staff and public.
  11. Do not abuse hospitality or over indulge with menu items or courtesies when taken out. Eat reasonably and do not order the most expensive items just because it is FOC. Be civil and polite and do not offend anybody.
  12. Do not use any inspected room toilets or bathrooms. Do not open cupboards or drawers unless invited to do so. Work on assumption that drawers and units actually do work and do open properly!
  13. You will never die of malnutrition or starve or dehydrate, so please do not carry any drinks or food whilst inspecting as it is rude and can also cause spills on carpets and previously cleaned areas.
  14. No smoking. No food. No drinks. No chewing whilst being talked to. No mobile phones on when inspecting. No high-volume chatter between room inspections or cabin inspections or entering lifts , staircases, rooms or any public areas as the paying public get first priority – not you.
  15. Do not steal (it is not called “borrowing”) any items from hotel, airline or cruise trolleys. This is called stealing and is theft. It is wrong .This includes serviettes, matches, water bottles, lollies or foods.
  16. Do not touch glassware, windows, bathroom doors, chromes, steel etc and leave finger marks, as somebody will see it or it will all have to be re-cleaned after you leave. Use your brain.
  17. Do not curl up your body on window sills or enter shower cubicles just because you can fit.
  18. No sitting on beds or couches or jumping up and down on them or messing the layout of sheets or covers. You must remain a ghost. Only do this if the host allows you to do so and is sincere about it.
  19. No taking photos without hotel’s OK, especially in deluxe hotels, which may have strict security policies.
  20. No chatting profusely with other agents when walking between places or inside rooms if being spoken to by our hospitable suppliers. Pay attention and courteous and focused on what is being said to you.
  21. Think constructively about what you are seeing and how best you can market and deliver what you have learned to other staff and pax when you get back.
  22. Consider educationals as a fabulous advantage and true benefit of being employed in our industry .
  23. When you get back, thank your manager and any supporting staff (who covered your files when away!) for allowing you the opportunity to attend. You can have great fun and store fabulous memories and may even be invited back whilst making those extra sales!
  24. Complete any reports and also send an email or card or phone to thank all relevant suppliers.
  25. Be honest, constructive and (hopefully) positive about your experience, as it is only via tour hands-on attendance and sincerity that we can move forward and improve the Industry products and services. 

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Good comment. Alas a large number of the consultants I know are squealing, boozing harridans who are there for their fun at anyone’s expense. I’ve long stopped going to industry functions because I usually cannot hear the presentaion over the noise of the girls, charrdy in hand, ignoring their benefactors and being more interested in socialising. Probably why there are so few really qualified and knowledgible consultants around.

  2. Angela says:

    You should also dress appropriately & treat other agents respectfully…this isn’t high school & it’s not a vacation.

  3. Whilst I agree with most of what is written and there is an element within the agency network who abuse the privilege of tamils, I cannot abide by the blanket “no touch” rule. A famil is a sales exercise, but in the current market with an ageing population things like door handle pressure, the distance a door handle is from the door itself, the weight of a door and the loading on the door, operation of locks on the entry and bathrooms, heights of hanging rails, effort to operate taps and toilet flushes, the size of the buttons on remote controls rate all critical items that directly affect the enjoyment of a holiday. So is the hardness of the bed and how easy it is to get into and out of lounge chairs and couches.

    Saying that agents should just assume everything just works is like telling a motoring writer that he can look at a new car release but can’t sit in it or drive it. I am sorry while a famil might be a privilege it is a major sales opportunity for the establishment and if that means the “display” room has to be be re cleaned then that is part of the marketing cost. Too many agents today do treat a family as a holiday and don’t cast a critical eye over what they are seeing and how functional a room is for the full cross section of their guests.

    Unfortunately this article lumps abuse and critical examination together. I cannot agree.

  4. Peter says:

    Ridiculous and I very much doubt it was written by an agent. Are fams free in Australia because they sure aren’t in North America.

  5. max says:

    Comments by Bill Forrester are noted but maybe slanted towards the travel section that he focusses on, which I respect and understand BUT my comments have rung true with so many professional travel agents Bill and you are wrong about test driving a car analogy. You cannot drive a car with dirty clothes, cannot take the Merc badge from the bonnet, cannot open the glove box and take what you want and certainly cannot smear the bodywork. Also you need to surrender your license to test drive it !
    As for door handle pressure and other ergonomics , I totally agree with you as I am very particular about these items and dull lighting in Bathrooms, laptop plugs not in easy access, Bathroom basins protruding and inability to place makeup on or shave properly etc etc, but no items should be so touched and used without express OK from a hotel staff who escorts you or the cruise cabin escort who allows you to do so or the Airline staff who sits you in a class available. This is careless disrespect and not professional.
    Your focus on disability travel is noted and I agree with what you say in part BUT remain respectful that any Educational must be treated with care and respect with appropriately dressed Travel professionals wearing attire to suit and not thongs, drinking from water bottles and wearing questionable clothes that do not agree with the relevant standards of what are being viewed.
    Educationals remain a privilege and not a right.

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