What's happened to holiday reps now lockdown has cancelled party-packed summers?

A holiday abroad to one of Europe’s party islands is a rite of passage for many – sunburn, pitchers of unnamed day glow cocktails, paint parties and fleeting romances all part of a life-changing summer.

For some, the experience lasts for four months at a time, with Brits abroad taking up permanent positions as holiday reps, living a third of the year in party holiday destinations and facilitating 20-somethings’ summers of sun, sand and sex.

This summer, however, party strips are expected to lie empty as holidays abroad are looking more and more unlikely for Brits in 2020.

Several EU countries have said that they would restrict travellers from the UK – with mandatory quarantines of up to two weeks for individuals visiting the countries, even with a negative coronavirus test. Travel restrictions, a two-week quarantine and an ongoing pandemic don’t make a summer holiday with the lads feel feasible.

Party Hard Travel, one of the leading agencies for party holidays, had a whopping 20,000 guests book with them in 2019 and are well-known for their partnerships with Boohoo, Love Island and Geordie Shore. However, for those who work abroad all summer and plan their year around a season with the agency, coronavirus spells chaos.

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We spoke to some of the reps from Party Hard to find out what happens now that the sun’s gone down on their season abroad.

Alex Birungi, 19

My summer abroad usually consists of sun, sea and sick memories – summer 2019 was my first season so I’m quite new to the job but it was the best summer of my life. I had the opportunity to work in Kavos, Greece, a small but powerful place.

The people you meet, the events we run, the country we get to live in for months are things I am so blessed to have experienced.

The job is high risk with high reward, moving away from home for a long period of time and being in-charge of hundreds of people is always daunting but the memories I made, my amazing team and the experience gained are priceless. Living out of two suitcases and having a diet that purely consists of gyros is amazing.

When I found out that coronavirus had cancelled our summer abroad I was devastated. As the season takes up a quarter of the year, it feels like summer is just going to be empty, made worse by the fact that we are still in lockdown in the UK, so there’s no substitute for the fun that would be had on the season.

Luckily I had a part-time job prior to the pandemic while I was waiting to go abroad so I’m going to continue with that – I’m a retail assistant at a game shop which is nothing riveting compared to a season abroad!

I will probably have to go full-time to make the money I would’ve made on my season but I am so lucky to have had something to full back on.

Natalia Kantas, 23

Working a season is so much fun. You get to live every 20-something’s dream. Our life is a party and it starts in May and ends in September – as the resort manager for Kavos I have many responsibilities but my team and our guest keeps me going.

I’ve worked in Kavos for seven years so I’m used to summers being very fun and extremely busy, a normal week for me would have nine events which I’d have to attend with our guests. When we found out the news we were all so gutted that we wouldn’t get to live the Party Hard summer once again.

I can’t stop thinking about the hoteliers, bar & restaurant owners and generally all the locals that count on those four months a year to make a good enough income to survive the rest of the year. If they don’t end up opening their businesses this season I am guessing they will have a tough winter ahead of them.

Many reps, including myself, who have been working in the industry for many years plan their whole 12 months around these four months of working abroad, so coronavirus has unfortunately changed a lot of people’s plans at the very last minute.

I isolated in Greece so I am in Kavos already and we are waiting for government updates. Talks have begun on ‘air bridges’ for holiday-makers to go abroad so we are waiting with our fingers crossed – if guests can arrive to the resort I will have a job again, but until then, who knows.

Faye Warwick, 22

My summer as a holiday rep is usually back-to-back events with massive parties every day, we’d normally meet up with all our guests and go partying with them!

Working as the destination manager for Ayia Napa I’d be taking guests on boat parties, running bar crawls and pool parties, taking guests to club nights, paint parties – the list goes on. Don’t let that fool you though, there’s a fair amount of work behind the scenes: sorting any issues, informing guests of the weeks plans, writing the rota, event promotion and in-resort sales. I was heading to Malia this summer to manage our reps there.

I work both summer and winter seasons so being a holiday rep is a full-time thing for me and the pandemic has meant I have had to rethink my career plan a fair bit. I’ve had to move home to my family for until I can find alternative work in the UK.

I’ll miss all the in-destination people who run the events that you get super close to over the summer – you are out there for months on end. You get to meet hundreds of really cool people who visit your holiday destination every week and the energy they bring is amazing.

Reps that I know are all as gutted as I am, you spend your whole winter getting hyped for summer and reminiscing on the summer before, so morale is running pretty low.

Also, financially it’s difficult. Seasons are only three or fourt months so there’s no furlough or anything, we just have to wait until the destinations are safe to work in again, or get another job at home.

I had just returned from my winter season in France when we heard about lockdown and about there being no summer etc. Having graduated from uni last year and working abroad straight away, I’m now living with family until I find temporary work in the UK. I plan to go back to working in youth clubs in Bristol, leading activities with kids until we know more about the situation of the travel industry.

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