What is a summer or winter job?
Summer or winter job that I will be talking about is a job within the tourism industry, where you find employment overseas and the employer provides you with accommodation, covers the travel expense to the destination of your work secondment and provides you with a decent salary.
I have over the years worked for a few different tour operators, doing various roles from a campsite representative, to a reception, team leading and being a hotel manager. So I can provide useful tips on where to look, how to get started and what to expect from the interview and salary packages.
Work in France
So the rule of thumb is that most tour operators have different salary packages depending on which country you are sent to. From experience, the highest pay jobs and with better accommodation quality are usually in France. This is because of the French employment law, and the fact that the French government actually does care, and does regular checks on the British and other foreign tour operators.
In this sense, I was actually quite lucky when I started doing seasonal jobs as I started when things began to get better. From the stories of more experienced seasonaires, the jobs used to be harder (working 60-80 hours a week) and pay were much lower (£300-400 a month). Thanks to French law, now the employee must do an average of 35h a week over the course of the employment and earn a french minimum national wage (which works out around £1,200 a month). In addition, the tour operator cannot make you share your accommodation with too many people so now you get more living space.
However working for the same company, let’s say in Italy or Spain and your income can reduce to £600-£700 a month. Some tour operators still pay around £300-400 a month.
I started doing my seasons with Eurocamp in 2015, I was sent to Italy which I really wanted to visit. I was based quite close to Naples, which was a charming city but had its dark side. Anyone who ever visited Italy more than once would have probably heard how the south and north are two completely different places, where north is rich and glamorous and south is poor. The actual resort where I was based was really amazing, with a private beach and great facilities. The place was called Baia Domizia (you can google it, it was the campsite where I lived and worked).
So going back to the job, as a campsite representative (or courier as called by Eurocamp) you do not get any food or drink in your salary package, at this point I was on like £690 a month and I got to live in a very spacious tent for the summer. You have cooking facilities, your own kind of tent bedroom space, fridge and toilet/ shower facilities nearby. All in all, enough for you to enjoy yourself and have money to get by. The campsite offered free excursions to staff when I worked there, and you could share a taxi to the train station and go to Naples or Rome for a day (or more).
The Job Duties
The job consisted of pretty much being a cleaner most of the time, you would usually start around 8-9am and get around 2-5 mobile homes/ tents to clean after customer departure and before new arrivals. Pretty easy cleans most of the time, as customers are required to leave the accommodation clean. Sometimes you had some odd bad cleans, but usually if you get on with your team it becomes a joint effort and everyone is helping.
Then in the afternoon, you either had it off or had to do little duties like visit each customer that arrived the night before and ask how they were. This is a really good task, you get to meet loads of interesting people. Quite often the customers you visit invite you over for free drinks and bbq’s after you’re finished.
Everyday one of your team members (or you) would cover the reception for around 3 hours, doing check ins and helping guests. Later on in the day someone had to cover an emergency call out (ECO) where you basically do not work unless someone calls. When you started your ECO you would cover the reception for 2 hours in the evening.
All this is equally rotated among your team. Quite frankly the phone never rang past 11pm, unless you had some late expected arrivals which were really rare. Stress-free work 90% of the time.
How To Get a Job With Eurocamp?
So to get this job, you can apply directly through the Eurocamp website searching for a courier. To be able to get the job you need to express your desire to work outdoors, be sociable, independent and show desire for traveling.
If you are a university student it is very easy to demonstrate this (if you lived away), because a university student goes through a similar journey, to begin with. You leave home and comfort zone, you socialize and meet new people and you become independent. If you have not decided to go to university, you may use examples from organizing trips with your friends, planning days out and showing your fun and adventurous side. It is to persuade the recruitment team that you won’t be going back home first thing when you get to your resort.
What is great when you do seasonal work is that it is very easy to progress and get promoted if you have this kind of desire. You can very easily ask your manager or team leader if you could do some of his work and ask to guide you if they can for the promotion.
Then pretty much next season you can say you have been shadowing and doing some of your manager’s duties, and there is a good chance you will be given a chance to show off. This is because staff changes from year to year, there are not many loyal long term employees in this industry, so they would promote someone who has some experience doing the job. I was promoted after the first season to a team leader for the next summer, where I went to France.
Campsite Reception Roles
If you are not so much into cleaning and little maintenance jobs like changing light bulbs or gas bottles, you can try to get a reception role. A good recruitment agency to go for is European Leisure Support, where there are many more jobs that do not require you to clean accommodations, but more kitchen and reception jobs.
I have got a job through them at Park Albatros in Italy working for Vacansoleil (Dutch tour operator, on an English contract). I worked 6 hours a day in reception 6 days a week, a really easy and enjoyable job.
On the flip side most jobs on European Leisure Support would require you to speak a second language such as German, French, Dutch or Polish. The pay was really good for this job at 1450 EUR a month, paid to a British bank account, and the tents were really nice with wooden floor, little private gardens and really spacious. Luckily on this campsite there was no need to share the accommodation with anyone, so it was great.
Some companies and campsites, mainly in France offer mobile homes for staff accommodation, which gives you direct access to shower and toilet.
(Something like on the picture below)
I have also tried and applied for a holiday rep with companies like Thomas Cook (which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore) and TUI. I have however never actually accepted any of the offers.
With those kinds of jobs, the interviews are really thorough and quite intense. You usually need to prepare a catchy welcome meeting, deliver it to the management and other people being interviewed. It is followed by group exercises (they do all sorts, from building a Christmas tree using paper to like more logical exercises like coming up with a list of job priorities in a given scenario). Most of the time they are not interested in the final result but just observe how you think and interact with others.
I never decided to accept holiday rep job offers, as the pay was disappointing. The pay started at £500 basic and then a few years later it went up to £750 basic plus you could earn a commission. However, after speaking to my friends who have worked as holiday reps for those companies, I have found that your ability to earn a commission is purely dependent on the resort you are in and how many excursions you have in your portfolio. The greater the number the higher chance you could earn a commission.
Some people in good resorts would end up with £1300-£1600 in a month with loads of commission, and others ended up with no commission or commission that was close to nothing.
Also working as a holiday rep is more stressful, demanding and you get less sociable hours. Holiday reps need to do late airport runs at 2-4am with not much sleep. They tend to work more hours as well and deal with a higher number of complaints. So I kind of always returned to the campsite industry earning a good basic wage of £1200-£1300 and better working hours and work-life balance.
When it comes down to winter jobs in the ski resorts, the best jobs you can apply for are resort assistant/driver and holiday rep. I know I said holiday rep was not a good job in the previous section, but the holiday reps in the winter resorts have a much different role than in the summer. Also the winter holiday reps have more chances to go to France and earn decent income, in comparison to the summer reps. The reps and the drivers in the winter season tend to do the least amount of work, and their work is most enjoyable.
You can also try to get a job as a hotel assistant. As a hotel assistant you have to do the housekeeping, waitering, and cover for the bar when needed. This can be quite tiring on some days and it can get repetitive. However it is still a great way to enjoy a season in the Alps. The experience is second to none.
The company I worked for is called Hotelplan and they have three main brands Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit. What is good about winter seasons that you do not normally get in the summer seasons, is free food cooked by the hotel chefs for staff, a great way to save money.
The company provides you with a ski pass, ski hire, and ski insurance. The way you get paid is a little bit more confusing, you get a wage of around £1050 a month and a secondment payment of £300 which is not taxed. On the flip side most of the £300 is taken off you for the ski hire, ski pass and general living costs. This means you end up with around £1050 a month. This however is in France, it can be less in other countries as discussed before. To apply for work with hotelplan you need to visit workaseason.com.
Which One To Choose, Winter or Summer?
I personally found the winter season much more active and adventurous. There is more things to do and more nightlife, accompanied by limitless amount of live bands. The mountains are really charming but on the downside more expensive than summer resorts, the work is more intense and harder than in the summer jobs I did. Also in the winter the mountains and temperatures can be really dangerous, there are usually more injuries in the ski resorts and more things to be vigilant about.
Summer seasons are lazier, you go to the beach more often and lay down with a cocktail. You have more bbq’s and drink more often. Also, you tend to go to restaurants and eat out more on summer seasons as no one cooks for you and it is usually cheaper to go out and eat out in the summer camps than in the winter resorts.
I would definitely recommend doing both, you will find great fun and friendships for life. Seasoner jobs open so many opportunities in life, I have friends all over the world and can very cheaply go visit a lot of countries and visit great friends.
You can learn a new way of spending your free time, you become more independent and try many things you probably never would at home. Also, this is a great way of experiencing luxury tourism without spending any money. Ski holidays are usually really expensive and this gives you a chance to enjoy it for free. Places like Courchevel are known to attract many millionaires and if you are not in that kind of life band then you probably would never be able to go there. Jobs like this allow you to have a snack of this kind of life.
I would personally recommend if you plan to do it, to get a Revolut card. I have tried a few different currency cards but Revolut is the best. It only has a small minimum top-up of £10 so really flexible when you compare it to for example Caxton, where the minimum top-up is £50 each time you want to put some money on there. It helps to save money, as most banks charge for each foreign transaction. You can use apple pay to top up Revolut, debit or credit card and even apply for credit in the app on certain accounts, much easier than with other providers. Also with Revolut, you do not need to worry about leaving too much money in there as you can use Revolut back in the UK or home country as a normal bank card with no fees. In comparison, other currency cards would charge you a fee if you used it back at home. The account analyses how you spend money and is easy to set up. You can apply using this link.
Note, clicking on the Revolut link will allow you to open a free account with Revolut. It will also mean I may get a commission for referral, depending on the current Revolut referral offers and the referral limits.