Blame it on the baggage handlers!

07.09.2009

After learning of an exciting opportunity from a EURES Adviser, French student Benoit Guillaume spent three and half months in ‘mind-blowing’ Prague - and can’t wait to bring all his friends back for the coming New Year. After graduating from university, Benoit Guillaume was in search of inspiration for where to head to next. Therefore, a conference on international job opportunities seemed like a good start. At a EURES recruitment event, Benoit heard EURES Adviser Elisabeth Cheneval give a presentation: “I was naturally attracted to the opportunities provided by EURES as I was interested in going abroad.” Captivated by her description of working with Team Trackers, a ‘lost baggage’ call centre based in Prague, it seemed as though the opportune moment had arrived.

Approaching Elisabeth after her presentation, Benoit quickly realised that he was qualified for the call centre position and that he was essentially ready to go. He enquired after the centre’s contact details and got in touch with the company. They were evidently impressed by his fluent English and polite telephone manner, as they offered him the job. It wasn’t long before he was winging his way – baggage intact! – to Prague.

Benoit was immediately pleased with his decision. “I must admit I was blown away by the city. The bridges and towers and streets – it’s really beautiful, and the atmosphere is fantastic.” Fortunately for Benoit, EURES Adviser Elisabeth had given him some hints on accommodation and he was able to find an apartment fairly quickly. “I stayed in a youth hostel for the first week, but finding an apartment wasn’t too tricky once you knew where to look”.

Benoit was soon launched into the world of Team Trackers with an intensive training course on ‘world tracer’ software – the system used by baggage tracers across the world. “The system was quite complicated”, but after the week of training, Benoit was ready to hit the phones.

The call operating role largely involved handling enquiries and complaints from customers of Air France who had lost their baggage. It was then up to Team Trackers to attempt to relocate their belongings through contacting the appropriate airports. Simple in theory, but in practice this means dealing with some very distressed individuals. Fortunately, being endowed with a relaxed manner, Benoit didn’t have too many problems. “Sometimes we had some weird calls. But generally we had a procedure that worked pretty well. If people were angry, you had to make them see that you weren’t personally responsible for the loss, and then reassure them that you were going to do everything you could to get them their luggage back. This generally calmed people down”.

According to Benoit the process of relocating the luggage could also be quite entertaining. “When baggage is found, officers of course have to check the contents. We would then get a list of items through to confirm with our clients, and I can tell you – some people take some interesting things with them on holiday! I’ll leave it to your imagination”.

But it seems it was the social scene and the magic of Prague that really made the experience for Benoit. “Prague is incredibly cosmopolitan, but it also has a real medieval feel to it”, Benoit enthused. “You could turn a corner and find yourself back in the 11th Century!”

And the nightlife certainly didn’t disappoint - “People literally go out from Monday to Sunday – that’s something different from France”. Perhaps surprisingly, our baggage tracker wasn’t even irritated by the significant volume of ‘stag party’ trips that head to Prague. “There are certainly a lot – it seems they all flock to Prague. But it’s all good fun!”

Currently studying for his Masters’ degree, Benoit isn’t yet sure where life will take him next, but he feels sure that he will go abroad again. “I think my experience in Prague could help – it helped me last summer to get a temporary call centre job in France, and I think that it stands out on my CV. But I’ll definitely be heading back to Prague in the future - I’m going to take a group of friends for the New Year and already I can’t wait”. And of course, with its variety of options across Europe, EURES provides Benoit with the obvious place to start looking for his next adventure.

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