‘You can have any opinion you like, as long as you can substantiate it’
Studied Tourism Managment from 2014-2018
Hi! My name is Menno Raams, 24 years old and living in Woudrichem, the Netherlands. From 2014 to 2018 I studied Tourism Management at NHTV (currently BUas). In my third year I specialised in Destination Development, Branding and Communication, and in the final year I completed the minor in Customer Relationship Management and Corporate Communication.
When I was in my final havo (senior general secondary education) year, I had no idea what I wanted to study next. The girl living next door to us had just graduated from NHTV and she talked about her Tourism studies with great enthusiasm. I went to the open day and applied that same day. I never had any regrets, because I had such a wonderful time! Of course I expected to be taught a lot of theoretical knowledge. But I also learned a lot on a personal level. During my studies I came out of my shell and I have changed in a positive way. I met so many nice people with whom I have made wonderful memories. The informal yet professional way of lecturing is typical of BUas, I think. I remember laughing a lot in German and Italian classes. What’s more, a quote that has stuck in my mind is from one of the lecturers who said in class: ‘you can have any opinion you like, as long as you can substantiate it’. Of course, I am also immediately reminded of the field trips to Mallorca, Indonesia and Singapore. In Mallorca I hardly spent any time in my hotel room, Indonesia was amazing and Singapore overwhelming. I took my first far-away trip as an NHTV student, and after that, there was no stopping me anymore. In short, four super years!
Getting down to work
After I graduated in 2018, I decided to travel around Asia for a while. Once I was back in the Netherlands, I had already signed a contract and started my first ‘real’ job as a Casino Manager Trainee. About six months later I decided it was time for something new and I wanted to go back to tourism again. I have now been working for almost one and a half year at ANWB Reizen (FOX) in the Operations Department, where my colleagues and I make sure that trips can be booked, visa applied for and that calculations are correct. We are in daily contact with our local agents from all over the world to ensure that every trip is perfectly arranged. At the moment, we are in the middle of a huge migration project. The brand name of FOX will cease to exist and will merge with other travel brands into ANWB Reizen. To achieve this, all systems have to be aligned, among other things. In the spring of 2020, all far-away travel came to a halt due to corona, allowing me to fully concentrate on this migration. In this process, I am responsible to produce the new website, together with my multidisciplinary team. This does not only entail filling the website with texts and images, but also that the website is able to ‘talk’ with, for instance, the booking system. Moreover, our office in Hoofddorp, with its famous FOX Theater, will close this spring and we will relocate to Den Haag.
‘Because I received broad training during my studies, I have the opportunity to work in different sectors. I like that, because at the time I didn’t yet know which career direction to take.’
I still reap the benefits every day, particularly from the general knowledge we were taught about the tourism sector, marketing, communication and finance. Moreover, the skills training courses were very useful to me. And what about all those languages? The most valuable course I still regularly think back to, was about intercultural communication. This course zeroed in on cultural backgrounds including the norms, values and etiquette of different groups of people and individuals. The conclusion of the course was that everyone thinks and acts differently by being born in a different country or family. Everyone sees the world through their own lens. As long as you keep that in mind and are curious enough, you can have normal and interesting conversations with anyone in the world.
I am currently trying to keep up to date on what’s happening in the sector by attending webinars and reading articles. But what I find especially important is to engage with people. One of my best friends, for instance, works at a major airline company, and our talks tend to focus on the projects we are working on. Additionally, I have frequent contact with agents around the world, as a result of which I am well informed of relevant developments. What’s more, the ‘Vakantiebeurs’ (Holiday Trade Fair) is the place to meet your former lecturers and fellow students.
Of course, sustainability within ANWB Reizen is very important. We strive for maximum travel experiences with minimum impacts on nature, culture and environment. To this end, we work together with various national and international organisations that help us obtain our sustainability ambitions. ANWB Reizen has the highest Travelife certification status: Travelife Certified. In addition, we offer only CO2-neutral travel and work closely together with MVO Nederland, ECPAT and World Animal Protection.
My personal view is that we shouldn’t talk about making plane tickets more expensive or reducing the amount of travel, but that we should look at alternatives. I think that many people will opt for travel within Europe or choose the train as a mode of transport when connections and prices are better. In this way, people don’t feel like they have to sacrifice luxury and convenience, but conversely, they are offered better alternatives.
Facing the future positively
In the coming months I will mostly be working on the migration of FOX into one ANWB Reizen brand. After that I hope to be able to travel again and resume my regular activities. And as for the future? The Product department appeals to me very much, but I would also love to work as a tourism lecturer or set up a business of my own.