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Your Stories: Rachel Newton starred in Flight Centre’s first global marketing campaign

Flight Centre destination specialist Rachel Newton tells Samantha Mayling about coping with the pandemic and starring in the agency’s latest marketing campaign.

Q. How did you start in travel?
A. After getting a degree in psychology from Birmingham University, I took a year out and worked part-time in a school and went travelling. I started at Flight Centre in Mayfair, London, as a consultant in 2013.

Q. How has your Flight Centre career developed?
A. When the Mayfair store closed I moved to Flight Centre’s Infinity wholesale brand, which provides accommodation, flights, tours, cruises, rail and car hire to our retail outlets. I joined as a US and Caribbean expert. We put together tailor-made itineraries to help the retail consultants with the more complicated tours – we deal with suppliers and ground handlers, and need more insider knowledge about the different places that we feature so we can help frontline Flight Centre agents. I then got a team leader role in the long-haul beach team, then the Europe team in November 2019. I like dealing with agents in the stores and building a good relationship with suppliers.

“I joined as a US and Caribbean expert. We put together tailor-made itineraries to help the retail consultants with the more complicated tours.”

Q. What happened when the pandemic began?
A. I started working from home on several Covid-19 support teams. I was head of the cancellations team, then I moved to the deposit team – dealing with people who had already paid a deposit and were due to pay their full amount so we were offering them deposit vouchers. Following that, I became a destination specialist within the wholesale and support team. Since April we have been back in the office – I do two days a week at home and three in the office in New Malden, Kingston upon Thames. Support from head office has been amazing – my manager has been hands-on and asking us how things are going. Everyone had an ‘in it together’ attitude.

“Since April we have been back in the office – I do two days a week at home and three in the office in New Malden.”

Q. What trends have you been seeing?
A. We are busy with last-minute bookings and people are spending lots of money. But there is a minefield of regulations. I was keeping on top of everything by checking Twitter and the Foreign Office pages – but after being off work and travelling for three weeks, I was lost again. People used to do more pre-Covid; now they want to book simpler, single-centre holidays for a bit of beach and sunshine. Bookings to Canada, the US and Sri Lanka are seeing upward trends and Australia will pick up, especially for the VFR market. Some bigger itineraries are being booked – we are seeing some amazing trips. There is an increasing number of enquiries for bigger holidays as people are more willing to invest in a big trip. Our policies are very flexible and our booking conditions were reviewed constantly in light of the traffic light and quarantine policies. We don’t get too many enquiries about sustainability. However, people do ask for eco‑style properties in the Maldives – it is a very good destination for sustainable travel.

“Some bigger itineraries are being booked – we are seeing some amazing trips. There is an increasing number of enquiries for bigger holidays as people are more willing to invest in a big trip.”

Q. What about your own travels?
A. Early in 2020, I had a few trips before Covid hit, then in October last year I managed to go to Germany. I’ve just returned from Canada, where my best friend lives. We went to Calgary and Banff and to the US for a week. I was randomly selected for a Covid test at Vancouver airport. They are strict about showing proof of vaccination – at the gym, bars, restaurants and sports events.

“I have hardly done any of South America, there’s plenty of Asia left to do, and I would like to do more cultural places in the Caribbean.”

Q. What are your future travel plans?
A. I have been booking things at the last minute – I hope to go to the US this winter. I still want to visit places like Sri Lanka – that’s the big one that I want to see. I have hardly done any of South America, there’s plenty of Asia left to do, and I would like to do more cultural places in the Caribbean. I used to go on a fam trip once a year – my favourite destination was the Seychelles. They are beautiful islands and we had amazing weather over the four days. You can talk about it more knowledgeably to the retail agent when you have experienced it yourself and they can pass that on to the customer.


Rachel Newton two

Why were you chosen to be in Flight Centre’s first global marketing campaign?

The campaign is called ‘Experience our Experience’ and I was chosen as one of seven ‘co-captains’. The campaign moved away from Flight Centre’s solo captain mascot and aims to show the diversity of employees and our expertise. To be chosen for the marketing campaign, I had to submit a short video of myself and a colleague, Nikki Metcalfe. We really went for it, holding up signs like in the Love Actually film. Nikki shared fun facts about Hawaii, Iceland and Canada, while I was holding the signs. My random fact was that Sudan has more ancient pyramids than Egypt. The video was fun, and it’s nice to have more of our people represented in the campaign, as well as the captain. It is so strange to see pictures of yourself in store.

“To be chosen for the marketing campaign, I had to submit a short video of myself and a colleague, Nikki Metcalfe. We really went for it, holding up signs like in the Love Actually film.”

The global campaign aims to showcase Flight Centre’s heritage and knowledge because holidaymakers might be apprehensive about travel. Travel is my hobby. I love the great outdoors, hiking, scuba diving, going to the gym, visiting friends, and I am a bit of a foodie.

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