posted on 24/03/20
In the age of convenience, e-mails, and online bookings, you don’t necessarily need to speak to anyone in order to make a booking.
That’s true of MRT. You can reserve a tour on our website at the click of a few keys. But booking one of our tours is a commitment of time, money and trust, and although a computer might be convenient, we know that many of you still prefer to talk to a ‘human being’. If you have called our office, then you will know that there are no robots at the end of our phones! More often than not, you will be speaking to a member of the Client Relationship Team.
The ‘Client Team’ is one of the smallest in the office, with six members. You might recognise my name – Rosanna Reade – from your confirmation letters, and in addition there is: Liz Roe, Simone Larche, Alice Rendell (no, not Martin’s daughter!), Sarah Fenner, and our newest recruit, Lydia Shirfield. We are charged with the care of all aspects of the administration of your reservation before you travel: from making the initial booking and confirming your place, to posting your final documents before you depart. We answer around 1,500 calls a month, and send more e-mails and letters than we can count.
‘Having joined MRT fairly recently, I couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome. I love that the work ethic here is one where everyone helps and supports each other, it really is a team effort.’ – Lydia
‘I’m always learning new things, whether that’s to do with my job role, or from lecturers on tour.’ – Liz
Our work is closely intertwined with that of the Operations Team, who work on the tours themselves, and we have a broad knowledge of the MRT tours and festivals. In the space of five minutes we might go from advising on the selection of hotels on Venice: Pageantry & Piety, to suggesting which tours with Michael Douglas-Scott still have availability, to talking about travel insurance. For all of us in the Client Team, it is the diversity of the role that makes working here enjoyable. And this is most evident in the variety of conversations we have with our clients.
It could be said that Martin Randall Travel attracts a certain kind of clientele, and it is no different with the employees. All of us have been drawn to the company for its rich cultural offerings, and we have a sharp eye for detail. Sarah, Alice and I studied History of Art (at St Andrews, Exeter and Edinburgh respectively), and Liz and Lydia studied Archaeology and Ancient History (at Royal Holloway and Sheffield). Simone worked in the book trade for the best part of 20 years, and is our resident bookworm.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the role is learning about the many tours we have on offer – and sometimes joining one. If asked to choose, Alice and Sarah would both favour New Orleans to Natchitoches, lured by the architecture, culture and music of the ‘Big Easy’. Simone dreams of going to India, to trace the footsteps of an ancestor who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Lydia has her eye on Traditions of Japan, which explores the modern and historic aspects of Japanese society.
Liz recently was the tour manager on Classical Greece. Her favourite moment involved a thunderstorm in Megalopolis, resulting in a candlelit lunch in a traditional taverna – an atmospheric meal to say the least! She looks forward to meeting those of you travelling on our Ancient & Islamic Tunisia tour in October this year.
Delphi, taken by Liz (bottom right) while tour managing ‘Classical Greece’.
Sarah and I both assisted on Music Along the Danube in 2019, where a private concert at Dürnstein Abbey is a striking memory. I have also been lucky to tour manage The Melbourne Ring and St Petersburg in recent years. Learning about the ‘red line’ of St Petersburg’s architecture, visiting ornate palaces and the indomitable Hermitage Museum remains a highlight in five years of working at MRT, although prospecting for Iceland’s Story might come a close second. Travelling on our tours is such a reward, but it is also an invaluable way for us to learn more about the tours and how MRT operates, in order to pass on this information firsthand to our clients.
Rosanna, while prospecting in Iceland.
I hope this goes some way to an introduction – adding some faces to names, at least. Do call. We look forward to speaking to you!
The team, photographs clockwise from top left: Rosanna, Sarah, Simone, Lydia, Alice and Liz.