Midcounties Co-Operative’s commercial manager Russell Cox went ‘back to the floor’ to spend a day as a travel agent in the midst of the peak sales period.

He switched from his day job, handling commercial contracts and managing relationships with suppliers, to sell holidays and updating window cards in the Gloucester branch.

During the day, he handled cruise and villa requests, escorted tours, a Thailand trip and a simple self-catering break in Spain.

Cox, who used to be a travel agent for an independent agency, said: “It was great. Having been a travel agent in another life I really enjoyed engaging with the colleagues and seeing what work is like for them on a day-to-day basis. It was a different atmosphere to head office.

“Meeting our customers and understanding the different holiday types and destinations was really interesting. It was very advantageous to see the team and work with them. It helped me understand how we can communicate our messages, and what changes we can make.”

He said he has seen first hand how busy agents are in shops and that offering more bite-size training with key messages would be the way forward, so as not to take agents away from serving customers to complete training modules.

“We put out a lot of key messages before Christmas and it was great to see those messages being put into action. We get regular feedback and understand the challenges branches face, but when you see the branch alive you see the true competitiveness of the high street.”

Cox now wants agents to spend a day in the support centre to see the other side of the business for themselves. He is also to look at ways to save paper in stores.

In total, 20 Midcounties Co-Op colleagues went ‘back to the floor’ in various roles on January 19.