December 20, 2008


Once anyone decides to build a new construction, first of all he has to get a valid building permit which has to be supervised by the Municipal Technical Services in order to be approved. This is the most difficult part of the whole process, because you will experience the unsuitable town-planning legislation, being affected by three different laws with different development. As regards accessibility, on one side, there is a general National legislation about construction and another specific one, recent to be in force, named Building Technical Code (CTE); on the other side, there is a profuse regional legislation due to competences assumed by the Autonomous Governments in each Spanish region. Furthermore, each particular city or village has its own particular laws that can be applied. All this laws’ mix-up becomes in an endless pilgrimage window to window trying to conciliate many resolutions that sometimes offer different duties for the same matter. As a result of this “law-shake”, one person who decides to create a new touristic resource is never sure at all about the accessibility he offers in his facilities. After all this approval process, there is another question to be considered: the way construction companies carry out their job and respect the original project. Very often, a good design can be ruined by a bad execution.

December 15, 2008


First of all, it’s important to distinguish every disability and learn the way to name each one correctly. We can’t refer to people with disabilities like “disabled person”, because they are not disabled, they have a disability. That’s why the correct term is “person with disability” or “person with a challenge” (visual challenge, hearing challenge, mobility challenge or reduced mobility …). This is a subtle difference, but it’s important to start to change the way people think about disability.
Recognizing that every kind of disability has its own specific characteristics which impede people to get full accessibility, there are however some common actions which can ensure a high level of accessibility for the highest percentage of this community. There is no doubt that the main difficulties are those related to architectural barriers and signposting both indoor and outdoor, however it’s relatively easy to adapt the way of building in order to allow an universal access which becomes in an improvement for everybody. Against many people think about, money is not the main problem. Building an accessible environment is not much more expensive than not to do it. Many times it's just a matter of willingness.

December 11, 2008


Nowadays tourism has to face many problems, like the economical crisis, fuel prices, air fares, weather conditions, social riots and more. Most part of those events is not under control of the tourism worker. However, there is a question that bothers people more than any other one: employees who don’t work in a professional way. This appears to be a minor problem compared to others, but if you think that the only contact you’ll have with the company which provides you any service is through this inefficient employee, the matter becomes more important. You can see this kind of workers everywhere in tourism places and their behavior is really harmful for tourism industry. I’ve noticed this kind of people is found often in small family companies, like rural or snow houses and hotels. In some of these lodges, it’s usual they change your reservations depending on their needs, without any respect to the books they’ve made before. It happens sometimes that you book for two nights, you have the booking confirmed, and after the confirmation, you receive a call, trying to force you to book for one o two more extra nights without previous notice, and without any other reason than “because I’m the manager and if you don’t like it, I don’t care, that’s just the way it is”. Of course they have the right to establish the minimum amount of nights they want to be booked, but always in advance, not after the booking is confirmed. Worst of all, there is no effective way to complain about those abuses but to look for another place and don’t play the game with this kind of business men.

December 05, 2008


Past week, I participated in a course about Accessible Tourism, sponsored by Turgalicia and taught by Predif, an organization with no profit motive in mind, dedicated to promote the quality of life to people with disability. To a person like me, who didn’t know the problems that people with any disability have to face every day, was a way to become aware about the difficulties they find daily in their life. We did a simple test: I tried to walk around a square garden with a black mask, and even with a person by my side guiding me, it was incredibly difficult and the feeling of insecurity was brutal. That’s why I think it’s necessary to throw away all the prejudices and get conscience about how accessibility is the best solution for all of us. Even if you don’t agree with this statement, just think: at any time in your life you can be injured in an accident, you can be sick, you will walk pushing a baby-trolley and, that’s for sure, you’ll grow old. In every one of these situations, you are temporarily a person with disability, and you will appreciate accessible buildings, sidewalks, doors, stairs, parking places, toilets, transports, etc… Furthermore all this measures are directly related and conditioning tourism.
Accessibility involves many different sides, in many levels. There is a legal framework, there are different needs depending on the kind of disability, sometimes hard to conciliate, and finally, there are individuals, each one of them with its own special needs. I think this is an important remark. A person with disability is not a kind of person, is an individual, and as an individual must be considered.

November 21, 2008


Travel agent job is really interesting. You get information daily about destinations, offers, last minute opportunities and sometimes you can get almost free or very cheap trips. It’s very important to know how to manage customers, and to transmit them all this information. Sometimes, customers have no idea about what they want to do or where they want to go. All they say is something like “I want to make a trip…” and it seems they are expecting you to give them the tickets. At this point, you think, “of course, that’s because we are here, but telling me where do you want to go should help…” but you can’t use such a direct and ironical sentence. Actually, if they knew where to go, they would ask for it at first time. You have to chat with them trying to guess their preferences, in order to reduce the number of possible destinations. At last, almost everybody wants the same: Caribbean coast, Spanish Islands, Tunisia or medium and far east. Fashion is a main factor of selection at the moment. This year, Tunisia and medium east have been the most demanded. One more year, Canary and Balearic Islands stand on the top of the preferred destinations. Caribbean is more expensive and people don´t like to go far from home in the middle of a crisis as the one we are living in. Other destinies, like New York, have become very expensive along these months, because the increase of fuel at the beginning of the year and the rising of the dollar rated to euro at the end. London, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague are always good places to visit, but we have a big problem in Galicia: almost ninety per cent of the international links have to connect with Madrid or Barcelona. Right now, Vigo only has an international flight to Paris. Furthermore, Air France and Air Europa have broken their agreement to join their operations up recently, and ticket prices have risen a lot (almost double than the price before the break). It means that the only way to leave Vigo is via Porto, or linking with Madrid or Barcelona, which increases the price of the trip in, sometimes, a 30%. A new fashion is growing up strongly: to spend a weekend at a spa, with lots of leisure time and the possibility of enjoying a peaceful environment, as well as you take care of your health and/or beauty. Many of these houses are situated in small villages, far from cities, giving you a full relaxing experience, allowing you to walk through forests and visiting picturesque places.
Summing-up, every customer needs something different, and to guess what it is, is one of the main abilities asked to a travel agent. It can make the difference between close a contract or not.

October 27, 2008


The summer is over and here we are, back to school… Many things have happened along these months. The most important, related to this blog, is that the office is already open since July 15th, two months later than I expected, because all the paperwork at the Xunta Tourism Office was extremely slow. That means that we have lost all the summer season, and that is an important burden to the rise of the company. But as things passed can’t be changed, it’s better to look to the future and try to do our best. Sure this is not a good time to start with a company, because the big crisis we are involved in, but there are always opportunities, even in the worst moments, and we are working hard to find them.

May 12, 2008


I’m back from Malaga after having finished the training course to learn how to manage a travel agency. We have learn a lot about the way a travel agency works, as well we have received marketing and motivational classes. It has been a very interesting and intense week. I have had the chance to meet other people who is in the same process than me, and I have find some friendly job mates. I have to say that we have spend a lot of time enjoying “Malaga’s nights”. If someone of you have ever been at the Pimpi’s tabern, you should know what I’m referring to.
But the week is over, and it’s time to come back to work in Vigo. This morning I have been visiting the office at the shopping centre. The painters were working inside, and the electrical supplies are almost finished. I think maybe next friday or monday the office will be completly finished.
The paperwork is also progressing. It is possible that all the documents will be at the Xunta register next monday or tuesday. Anyway, it is going to be difficult to open in June 9th, because paperwork takes at least four weeks.

April 28, 2008


Last week, in chapter 12, everything related to staff selection process seemed to be solved, but last Friday, things changed in a radical way: two of the people I had selected, turned back their mind and decided they didn’t want the job, and I still need one more person to work. That means I have to start again with the process and the interviews. I have selected six new applicants, and next Wednesday will be the second chance. I hope there will be no more delays this time.
About the deed, it seems this is going to be the week when I get it back from the Business Register, but I don’t want to get my hopes so up because there is a long holiday since Thursday till Monday.
The last open matter, the refurbishment estimate for the premises, also seems to be ready for this week, maybe on Tuesday, as the contractor told me this afternoon, despite I tend to think it won’t be before Wednesday.

April 23, 2008


About the last friday applicants, I have just taken my decision. I have made my choice based on the human resources department’s reports and my own evaluation, and I have selected two people. One of them has experience as a tourism agent (she’s doing that job at present) and the other one is a tourism graduate looking for her first job. I think I have taken the right choice, but that is something nobody could know before the agency starts to work.
About the premises, yesterday (tuesday) I have been there with the building contractor to mesure the office and tell him the way I want the decoration, and tomorrow morning I will be there again with the electrician, to decide the number and location of the light spots, as well as the plugs for the rest of the stuff, phone and internet connections.
Finally, I have to go to Málaga University next month, May 4th, to take a short course about travel agencie’s management, and I already have purchased my AVE ticket from Madrid to Málaga.
Things are moving forward, despite I'm still waiting for the deed's registration at Business Register.

April 16, 2008


Yesterday, I went to a meeting at the Shopping Centre head office in order to inspect the condition of the premises and its supplies (electricity, air conditioning) and to get the key. That means I have been given the office, and now it’s time to renovate and decorate it as a travel agency. It will be necessary to polish the floor, paint the walls and change and redistribute some light spots, before to place the furniture and the rest of items (computers, plasma TV, pictures). Next monday I will meet the building contractor to ask him for an estimate, and if we agree the price, I hope the works will be started in less than two weeks.

At the same time, next friday morning, I will interview the final applicants shortlist in a row, and I hope to find two people I would like for the job.

Once this two tasks will be finished, in adition with the company registration (the deed is still in the Business Register, and it probably will be there for two more weeks), it will be time to start the paperwork at the Xunta. June 9th still stands as opening date target.