Travel Club Elite’s sales manager Zoe Franklin was blown away by Miami and the Bahamas. She told Benjamin Coren about her experience.

Q. How did it feel to win a place on the Cover Stars 2019 trip?
A. I entered quite late and a lot of people had already entered so I didn’t fancy my chances of winning, but it was something I had always thought about. I’d had a good year personally and professionally, I’d been nominated as manager of the year at the AAAs and had good sales and lost over three stone, I felt great. I got a call on my day off to say I was going and I was over the moon. I was shocked and ecstatic.

Q. Had you been to either destination before?
A. I had never been to Miami or the Bahamas and to tick these destinations off was a big pull for me and neither disappointed. Miami was amazing, as soon as I stepped off the plane I felt at home. It was just like Miami Vice with the expensive yachts harboured up and the stunning art deco buildings.

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Q. How did you find the hotel?
A. The Eden Roc Miami Beach was stunning and the location was perfect as we could walk along South Beach from it. The hotel was beautiful and the fact we all got our own rooms was terrific. It was great to walk into the suite with big beds facing the balcony looking out towards the ocean.

Q. What did you think of Norwegian Sky?
A. The ship was lovely, and the perfect size for a four-day trip to the Bahamas, we could experience every aspect of it. We could try all the restaurants, have a flutter at the casino and see the onboard entertainment. I went to the gym and it was great to go running and look out on the ocean.

Q. How was the dining on board?
A. The freshness and choice of food was brilliant, dining rooms never felt crowded and you could always find a table for the group. One thing that stood out was that I was wearing black the night we dined in Le Bistro, and when they laid out the napkins they swapped mine for a black one to avoid leaving white lint on my clothes, I just loved the attention to detail.

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Q. Any interesting experiences in the Bahamas?
A. One morning we explored Nassau at our leisure, it was great to go out and walk around the shops and do a bit of sightseeing and get a feel for the place. We went to a shop that sold beauty products, and they were selling this eye cream that supposedly got rid of wrinkles, but it had a $300 price tag. The man in the shop kept putting the cream on my eyes trying to make me buy it, but I didn’t succumb, even when he reduced it to $100.

Q. How was your photoshoot?
A. I have never been the sort of person who likes to be the centre of attention and I hate having my photo taken. On the morning of the shoot, I was really worked up, but they showed me the spot they were going to do it in and [the photographer] Steve really put me at ease. When he suggested the slight adjustments and movements to make a pose, it made me feel more confident and I started to enjoy it. Unlike in previous Cover Stars where you had a makeover before, we didn’t, which I was more comfortable with as I could
just be me.

Q. What are your NCL selling tips?
A. Cost-permitting I would definitely suggest upgrading to a balcony cabin, so when your customer is sailing they can see the port as they come in. The balcony also offers extra private space. I’d advise customers to travel light. Most of us took too many clothes. You need swimwear, shorts and leisurewear on an itinerary like that. I’d also suggest taking advantage of all the activities and events on board.

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Zoe and Travel Club Elite

I’ve been in the trade for 33 years. I started on a youth training scheme – a bit like an apprenticeship – from school. I started working for an independent called Ian Allan Travel in Birmingham for 18 months. I was assistant manager, but then they were sold to WHSmith Travel, and I was there for another 18 months, before being made redundant. I then joined Travel International in Coleshill as assistant manager. Following that I worked in a new Lunn Poly shop for 17 years, managing two stores. When I had my daughters, I went part-time and moved to Co-op Travel for three and a half years. I joined Travel Club Elite full-time as a senior sales consultant and I’ve progressed to team leader and been sales manager for two years. The opportunities I have had here have been great, it’s been the best five years of my career.