David Chidley, training manager for Royal Caribbean International brands Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, tells Travel Weekly how he reached his current position
What was your first job in travel?
Reservations agent for Virgin Atlantic in Crawley, West Sussex.
How did you climb the ladder?
I moved into training after a year at Virgin Atlantic. I then became a training manager for a train operating company where I set up a customer service academy and took my professional training qualifications. After a couple of years I got a call to say there was a position at Royal Caribbean.
What does it take to be good at your job?
Enthusiasm, passion and sometimes a thick skin! You also need to be able to read people and relate to them well, and be able to paint a picture with words so people feel what you are talking about.
What are the big challenges in your job?
Royal Caribbean’s Cruising for Excellence training programme, which I manage with Michelle Russell, has become an award-winning leader so it gets harder each year to improve on what was achieved the year before.
Keeping up with technology can be mind boggling but with e-learning, featuring blogs, video on demand and podcasts, we feel we are at the forefront.
What’s the best part of your job?
I have immense pride working for a brand as respected as Royal Caribbean International, especially when I see trainees’ reactions on seeing one of our ships for the first time.
And the worst?
There isn’t enough training time available in the day, but we are addressing this with virtual training seminars which agents can do online at any time, night or day.
What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
The minute you don’t enjoy the job anymore, move on.
If you weren’t working in travel what would you be doing?
I’d love to work in the theatre. However I can’t sing, act or dance so maybe I’d make a good ice cream seller.
David Chidley’s travel CV
2004: Training manager, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, Royal Caribbean International
2002: Training manager, Midland Mainline
2000: Training officer, Virgin Atlantic
1999: Coach trainer, Virgin Atlantic
1998: Reservation agent, Virgin Atlantic
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