Your £500 referral trip: Jasmine in Bali

One of our core values at Secret Escapes is 'We're good people' and one of the ways that shows is in our employee referral scheme. If you successfully refer a candidate for a role, we reward our employees with £500 credit to put towards their next big trip! We caught up with Jasmine, our Senior ATL Manager who took her husband to Bali for a magical getaway!

Where did you go, which hotel(s) and for how long?

We decided to spend 10 nights in Bali, moving around to three different areas & staying in some amazing hotels. We chose Plataran Ubud & Spa in Ubud, Plataran Menjangan Resort and Spa in West Bali National Park, and finally Plataran Canggu Resort and Spa in Canggu.

Who did you take? Why did they deserve to go on this trip with you?

I went with my husband who definitely deserved to come and share the experience of Bali with me (and also to look after me as I was 5 months pregnant at the time!). 

Was this trip for a special occasion or simply using your well-deserved annual leave?

It was originally planned for my 30th birthday, but then also turned into a mini babymoon! 

How would you rate the hotel and any of the amenities? Did anything standout?

Everything was brilliant, the staff were very accommodating and lovely. The final hotel was very luxurious with our own villa and pool. 

What’s your favourite experience from this trip?

Getting to see how chaotic Bali is and visiting different areas of the island was great as they all had very different and unique appeals! 

Would you go back to this destination or hotel?

Yes! 

What’s one top secret tip you learned on this trip you could share with our employees and members? (e.g. local bar or restaurants, breathtaking viewpoint, popular beach, best swimming spot, local delicacies…)

If you want to relax in a beach bar one day, Potato Head Beach Club in Seminyak has a really low spend cap for the main beds which I don’t think people always realise, so you can live in luxury for the day at the expense of a few drinks and a meal – plus, it’s a stunning spot to watch the sunset! 

I personally think it’s best not to drive and to instead get cabs everywhere because the roads were too crazy for us to attempt to be safe! And finally, we went at a really lovely time of year at the end of February when the Balinese were celebrating a festival and in the lead-up, the streets were being decorated and the day of the festival itself was very lovely! 

Where would you like to go next?

Greece!! 

App development review for iOS and Android

At Secret Escapes, we want to create an enjoyable and seamless experience for our members; from browsing and booking to storing all the useful trip information in their account. That’s why we are continuously developing and improving our web platform and apps, to provide a tailored and effortless experience for each user.

In the last six months, the mobile apps team, quirkily named “No Doubt” have been focusing on providing a frictionless user experience, by delivering structural changes to the iOS and Android apps. Reducing friction was our starting point, as we wanted to streamline our customers’ experience, to help each one find the best trips that are tailored to their search requirements. 

After that, one of the biggest implementations we have been working on is the ability to deep-link our app users from an email to inside the app. During the pandemic, our business model changed and evolved rapidly, with our catalogue of deals growing by almost 15 times in one year. Consequently, our team has been working on projects like deep-linking, so we can assist customers in navigating their way through this enormous amount of choice while maintaining optimum performance speeds. This technical challenge alone is massive!

Now, when a member clicks on an email link, they are sent directly to a specific in-app location, instead of being sent to our mobile website. As well as improving UX, this also means we can optimise our marketing campaigns around a single deal, stage or part of our catalogue without worrying about user navigation. Email continues to be one of our most successful marketing channels and ensuring we make the experience consistent for app members is important. Since we’ve added that functionality, we have seen our retention increase by 10% in the apps!

In the last few months, we have also been interviewing & surveying our members within the apps, then going through the feedback in order to understand the browsing pain points in our mobile applications. We discovered that our app homepage, which is naturally the most visited page, was too long for some. This made it hard to distinguish between each section, so some of the important content was easily being missed. From that, a new hypothesis emerged: to improve retention and ultimately conversion, we would need better presentation tactics that provide context for why we are showing content.  

We are excited to say we are just a few weeks from getting our first changes in front of our members. These changes include improving the navigation of the app homepage with clearly defined deal sections and improved navigation tools to help users find their dream destinations faster, plus deliver improved deal recommendations. We are also thinking about how to optimise the experience for our tablet users, as the audience is also growing on these devices. We will make changes incrementally, using a backend driven UI approach that allows us to make modular changes to the different sections and their order on the page. We will then be able to efficiently measure, test, learn and adapt our content strategy to deliver the best experience to our app users. 

Iphone before

Iphone after

Ipad after

Ipad before

Most recently, we have changed our search technology on both the website and the apps, which now means that search results load 20% faster than before.

Every day we learn, test, build and iterate incremental changes to the mobile apps. We continue investing in researching our customers’ needs to enable them to find the right deals faster, smarter and in an enjoyable way.

Meet the Execs: Jen Lang – Chief Customer Officer

Want to know more about what it’s like to work at Secret Escapes? Have a read of our “Meet the Execs” series to understand more about the day-to-day challenges, hurdles and successes, what it’s like to be a part of their team and to learn about their own career development while getting a little insight into what your future career could have instore for you.

How long have you been at Secret Escapes, and how long in your current role as Chief Customer Officer?

I joined Secret Escapes in February 2012 in the Marketing team. After that, I led the charge on international expansion, before moving into various General Manager roles. I then held a Strategy Director position before starting in the Chief Customer Officer role in 2021, around my 9 year anniversary.

What’s the biggest risk you have taken in your career and has it paid off?

Joining Secret Escapes. I was faced with the choice of some very sensible media agency options or taking an undefined job at an unknown company with huge ambitions. I’d like to think my decision paid off!

What has been the best career development opportunity for you here at SE?

The biggest opportunity is the sheer variety of options for progression. My first big role was becoming General Manager for Scandinavia. It was my first opportunity to take real profit and loss responsibility and it was a crash course in management, with the added complexity of cross-territory teams. I also got to meet some awesome people across the region, as well as enjoying a few crayfish summer parties along the way!

What is most important to you when fostering your team culture?

Fairness and transparency. If people feel they are treated fairly and understand why decisions are made then a great culture will follow, and the team will have created it.

What have been some of your favourite projects or recent successes?

Two of my favourite projects were both ‘firsts’:  One was launching an ambitious TV advertising strategy, despite being seen by many as an upstart brand. The other was launching Secret Escapes into new markets outside of the UK. The success of both of these decisions underpinned where we are as a business today.

More recently, I’ve been awed by the resilience of our teams during the COVID pandemic. Travel has been hugely impacted, but thanks to their energy and determination, we haven’t just survived the crisis, we have emerged even stronger, both as a business and a culture.  I’m incredibly proud to be part of it.

What do you enjoy most about your job and why? What about the challenges?

Our most important corporate value – ‘We’re Good People’ – couldn’t be more true. I love the people I work with. Everyone at Secret Escapes comes to work wanting to solve problems and try new things.

In terms of challenges, there are just too many good ideas. We have to be ruthless in our prioritisation!

What does a typical day look like in the life of a Chief Customer Officer at SE?

It’s pretty diverse… It might start with Marketing campaign reviews, end with a Product roadmap session and have some Group Strategy squeezed in the middle.  The sheer breadth of activity here is a great motivator.

What’s one thing that sets Secret Escapes apart from other companies?

It really is the people. We are so lucky to have hired and to continue to hire talented, hard-working people who can get stuff done and have a great laugh along the way.

What is the one stand-out thing you look for in a candidate?

Problem-solving. If you can make complex things simple, you can find great solutions and make amazing things happen with the right support around you.

What is the best thing about your team?

We all really care about what we do. We’re passionate about results and we know collaboration is key to achieving our goals.

Where’s your next travel destination and why?

I’m really hoping to get to France to see my grandparents this summer, they haven’t been able to see their great-grandchildren since 2019. After that, I feel a few cocktails calling me from a Mediterranean beach (without the kids!). Let’s hope we all get the chance to get some sun by the end of this summer.

Meet the Execs: Dan Evans – Director of Global Contracting

Want to know more about what it’s like to work at Secret Escapes? Have a read of our “Meet the Execs” series to understand more about the day-to-day challenges, hurdles and successes, what it’s like to be a part of their team and to learn about their own career development while getting a little insight into what your future career could have instore for you.

How long have you been at Secret Escapes, and how long in your current role as Director of Global Contracting

I was the first employee of Secret Escapes – I’m coming up to 11 years in the business!

What’s the biggest risk you have taken in your career and has it paid off?

The biggest risk I’ve taken in my career was joining Secret Escapes! When I joined, there was no company, no website, nothing! I spent my first morning in the job building my desk! I think it’s pretty safe to say that it paid off!

What has been the best career development opportunity for you here at SE?

I’ve been able to develop from a contracts manager into someone who leads large teams so that is the biggest development opportunity. The scale of my role has developed in line with the scale of the business. 

What is most important to you when fostering your team culture?

Most important for me is transparency – people need to be able to speak their minds and feel comfortable sharing their issues and problems. That’s the only way we can improve. In return, the leaders need to be able to explain decisions and reasoning honestly. Then, even if someone disagrees they at least understand. 

What have been some of your favourite projects or recent successes? 

I particularly enjoyed taking Secret Escapes into new territories, whether that was by opening new points of sale or sourcing hotels in a certain destination for the first time. I was lucky enough to be heavily involved with this work in the early days. More recently, I’m really proud of the way we’ve bounced back from Covid with a new model and ways of working. 

What do you enjoy most about your job and why? What about the challenges?

I’m a hotel and travel geek so I absolutely love that side of it but I also love working with people all over the world, both internally and externally. That diversity also brings lots of complexity though – it’s not easy staying on top of all the different teams, projects and plans! 

What does a typical day look like in the life of a Director of Global Contracting at SE? 

If you find out please let me know! I love the fact that almost every day is different depending on the team or the project that’s the current focus. The one constant is ensuring that we’re on track to hit our targets, or working on solutions if we’re not. 

What’s one thing that sets SE apart from other companies?

I think the trust that we put in every employee is quite unique – everyone has the power to control their own part of the business and make it grow. 

What is the one stand-out thing you look for in a candidate?

The ability to learn. Experience is great but as long as someone is open to learning new things there’s not much that can’t be taught. 

What is the best thing about your team?

The diversity. I love working with lots of people from different countries and backgrounds with different skills and unique outlooks on things. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to other professionals?

Take a risk if you think there’s a chance of big success further down the line – those steady jobs at big established companies will still be there if it doesn’t work out. 

Where’s your next travel destination and why?

Anywhere would be nice right now but I’m lucky enough to have a trip to Cornwall planned for the Summer! Covid cost me several holidays last year so I want to organise those again – Corfu is the first on the list.

Meet the Execs: Jean-Charles Lacoste – Chief Operating Officer

Want to know more about what it’s like to work at Secret Escapes? Have a read of our “Meet the Execs” series to understand more about the day-to-day challenges, hurdles and successes, what it’s like to be a part of their team and to learn about their own career development while getting a little insight into what your future career could have instore for you.

How long have you been at Secret Escapes, and how long in your current role as Chief Operating Officer?

I joined Secret Escapes in January 2018 as UK MD. When the company went through a reorganization last year, I took over the responsibility of COO for SE Brands.

 

What’s the biggest risk you have taken in your career and has it paid off?

I think I have taken many, but the one that caused me the most sleepless nights was the decision to leave TripAdvisor to run a small start-up back in 2014.  At that stage, my whole career had been in online travel and I had spent 8, very successful years at TripAdvisor: but I wanted to prove to myself and the world that I could thrive in a different sector in a CEO role. Thankfully this was a success but it was risky and very challenging. 

 

What has been the best career development opportunity for you here at SE?

Without hesitation, I can say it is the move to COO. Most of my roles before this move have been revenue-generating and, for the first time, the biggest challenge in my role is to optimise cost while improving the quality of what our teams do. This has been enlightening and a lot easier than I had expected, as I was lucky enough to inherit great teams with very strong leaders who have been instrumental in making this transition a success.

 

What is most important to you when fostering your team culture?

Very early on, the COO leadership team and I developed a vision for the department:  “We are here to do more for less, so that our customers are more satisfied and our profitability grows by continually improving accuracy, optimising processes and leveraging technology.” From this vision, we developed strategic pillars and from these strategic pillars, we developed OKRs for our various teams. I think this approach has helped develop a culture for the COO group which was originally three very different unconnected teams before we brought them together to achieve this vision.

 

What have been some of your favourite projects or recent successes?

Since Q3 last year, the team has relentlessly been trying to deflect contact from users. This means improving the way the Editorial team writes deals, or the way the operations team loads offers, or the information that’s available to customers in FAQs etc… It has been a coordinated effort from all COO teams (Editorial, CS and Ops with the support of the Project team) and the results are easy to quantify. Before that initiative took place, we had a continuous backlog in CS (over 900 cases waiting to be worked on in the queue).  This backlog started in 2019. We were continuously overwhelmed by customer contacts and struggled to reply in a timely manner. Since we eliminated the backlog last summer, it was never an issue again. The team is really proud of this accomplishment.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job and why? What about the challenges?

Never a dull day! Always a new challenge pushing us to find creative solutions to get BAU done and also improved. But to make this work, we need a strategic approach for running the department, to improve our processes and tools throughout the year to continuously optimise our BAU and provide better support without wasting resources.  With that said, our department is very BAU focused. We support the CRO org but also deal with our customers before they purchase, after they purchase, while they travel and after they return. This is a huge responsibility and if we drop the ball we can make customers really unhappy or cost the company money. I think it is this need to keep all our balls in the air without dropping any of them, all while constantly improving processes that makes my role so enjoyable day to day.

 

What does a typical day look like in the life of a Chief Operating Officer at SE?

I don’t think there is such a thing! The common thread throughout the day is usually problem-solving. Like most of us, I spend a lot of time in meetings where issues are raised and the flip side of that is finding the departments or people we can help to solve these issues, either within the COO org or within the rest of Secret Escapes and sometimes through vendors and partners. It is a very hectic role, but very rewarding for someone like me who gets bored by predictability and repetition!

 

What’s one thing that sets SE apart from other companies?

Our people and our approach to people management. I think there is a lot of respect between colleagues here at SE and that is felt throughout the day. In lots of companies, there is tension between departments and lots of politics. I think we manage to avoid that at SE. This is very important and makes working here a lot more enjoyable than most other companies.

 

What is the one stand-out thing you look for in a candidate?

Oddly enough, I think it is enthusiasm and resilience. Our work can often be technical and require lots of stamina as there are lots of challenges to overcome at all levels of the COO organisation throughout the day. So, often, having a positive attitude is more important than technical skills. Technical skills can be taught, a positive attitude, not so much. 

 

What is the best thing about your team?

Their positive attitude, enthusiasm and resilience in adversity!

 

What is one piece of advice you would give to other professionals?

If you want to keep growing in your career I would suggest venturing outside your comfort zone at every opportunity. Keep challenging yourself to do things you don’t believe you can do. We can be our own worst enemy and our worst critic which in turn stops us from trying new things, which ultimately is what allows you to progress. 

 

Where’s your next travel destination and why?

Interesting question in these interesting times!  Pre-COVID this was a fun question to ask me. I have been known to answer “North Korea” or “Kazakhstan” but today, it’s a lot closer to home: France. I have not been able to go back to France for a year because of the travel restrictions that are in place and this is the longest period I have not been able to see my family and friends there. Really looking forward to crossing the channel. That feels very exotic at the moment. Strange how this pandemic has recalibrated a lot of our expectations!

Meet the Execs: Eirik Pettersen – Chief Technology Officer

Want to know more about what it’s like to work at Secret Escapes? Have a read of our “Meet the Execs” series to understand more about the day-to-day challenges, hurdles and successes, what it’s like to be a part of their team and to learn about their own career development while getting a little insight into what your future career could have instore for you.

How long have you been at Secret Escapes, and how long in your current role as Chief Technology Officer

I joined SE in September 2017, when I took over from the previous CTO. 

What’s the biggest risk you have taken in your career and has it paid off?

In 1999 I resigned from my consulting job to start a company with some of my university friends.  I went 6 months without being paid, but 15 years later we sold the company to Yell so, yes it did pay off quite well in the end!

What has been the best career development opportunity for you here at SE?

What’s been so exciting about working at SE is being part of a company that’s in multiple countries with multiple business units.  I went from leading a platform with one product and one(ish) country to keeping on top of multiple platforms with different business models and that has been quite the learning curve!

What is most important to you when fostering your team culture?

The tech team has built on top of the core values of SE to capture the tech-specific values and behaviours and what’s important to us is that we really do live by them.  One of our practises for instance is a monthly ‘Stars and Fails’ session.  We give ‘stars’ to our colleagues for their “good deeds”, and we put ourselves forwards for the ‘fails’ to shout about our mistakes.  This is to reinforce a sense of ‘psychological safety’ in the team, which is shown to be a good predictor of team performance.

What have been some of your favourite projects or recent successes?

There have been so many step changes over the years that have advanced the platform that it’s hard to pick a favourite!  A real significant project ongoing at the moment is the re-platforming of Travelist, one of the group companies, on to our ‘Tracy’ platform.  That’s exciting as it’s an important step towards consolidating a portfolio of group-wide applications.  This project also impacts Horizon, which is our move to a decoupled frontend architecture, which in layperson’s terms means we should be able to innovate more quickly on our user experience and again be able to share our work across the group.

What do you enjoy most about your job and why? What about the challenges?

There are two things that stand out.  Firstly, my colleagues – it is a pleasure to work with such intelligent and thoughtful people.  They keep me on my toes all while having a good laugh along the way.  And secondly it’s what we do.  We make it possible for people to have experiences and create memories beyond what they would have normally expected to be able to afford.

In terms of challenge, I guess the perennial issue is building up and retaining the team.  The employment market for engineers is frothy and you are competing with a lot of companies over the same resources, but I am confident we have a lot to offer which is evidenced by a whole bunch of veteran team members who’ve stayed with us way beyond industry averages!

What does a typical day look like in the life of a Chief Technology Officer at SE? 

My role is quite a mix of operational and strategic.  I could be thinking through our 5-year plan one minute, and dealing with a website outage the next – it’s certainly never boring!  I don’t unfortunately get much time to get into some coding anymore, which I do miss.  But we have a collaborative architecture and system design process via workshops and design documents so I still get to make technical contributions.

What’s one thing that sets SE apart from other companies?

I really enjoy the conviviality at SE, we like to work hard and play hard and that works because we have such a friendly and inclusive atmosphere.

What is the one stand-out thing you look for in a candidate?

We always look to see our company values reflected in our candidates – and that will generally trump pure knowledge or skill.

What is the best thing about your team?

Two things that really impress me about the team is their resilience and ingenuity; they don’t give up easily, no matter the challenge, pulling from their creative reserves.

What is one piece of advice you would give to other professionals?

We spend so much time at work, it’s important to make sure you are doing something that you love so you can enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Where’s your next travel destination and why?

My next trip will be to visit family in Florida and South Carolina – haven’t seen my mum, brother or my sister and her family for coming up to 2 years!

DiverSE: Pride month 2021 – History

As part of Pride month 2021 activities, we are sending a weekly email about a different period in LGBTQ+ history, starting with the gay liberation of the 1960s and the Stonewall Riots.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

As part of this month’s Pride activities, we’ll be sending a weekly email about a different period in LGBTQ+ history, starting with the gay liberation of the 1960s and the Stonewall Riots.

The fight for LGBTQ+ rights is often split into two categories: before Stonewall, and after. But contrary to popular belief, the LGBTQ+ rights movement was alive and kicking well before the Stonewall Riots. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, LGBTQ+ people risked psychiatric treatment and jail time for publicly expressing their sexuality, and it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that protests began to force world governments to reexamine the laws which held same-sex relationships as illegal.

The gay liberation movement was a social and political catalyst that urged LGBTQ+ people to fight against prejudice with ‘gay pride’. Prior to the Stonewall Riots of 1969, momentum for this movement was already gaining power across the world. In cities across the US, police raids on gay bars were common, sparking protests and pickets. One such event was the Compton’s Cafeteria riots in San Francisco, whose crowd of drag queens and transgender women finally had enough and stood up for their rights.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

And then came the 28th June, 1969. Gay bars are and have always been a place of refuge for LGBTQ+ people, where they can go without fear of public harassment. The Stonewall Inn, in New York’s Greenwich Village, is a well-known gathering place for LGBTQ+ people, and was frequently subjected to police harassment. At the time, there was a statute that authorised the arrest of any person not wearing at least three items of gender-appropriate clothing, and thus, when the cops arrived, the arrests began. But the bar’s patrons didn’t scatter, and this routine raid ignited three nights of unrest, where New York’s LGBTQ+ community began to fight back. Some of the key activists in the riots were lesbian and transgender woman of colour, who are remembered today as mothers of the LGBTQ+ rights movement: Stormé DeLarverie, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.

Why is Stonewall so well-remembered, when it was only one of many protests? Because it was the first to be commemorated. On the one-year anniversary of the riots in 1970, thousands of people marched on the streets of Manhattan to commemorate what was then – and still is in Germany and Switzerland – called the Christopher Street Liberation Day. This was the USA’s first pride parade, and every year since, growing in numbers each time, cities across the world come together to celebrate Pride every June.

Next week we’ll be talking about the 1970s and 1980s, the AIDS epidemic, and more.

Want to carry on learning?

Watch – Before Stonewall: this 1984 documentary chronicles the fight for LGBTQ+ rights (you guessed it) before Stonewall – available on Amazon Prime.

Listen – Making Gay History: a podcast that reveals the hidden histories of the LGBTQ+ rights movement through archival interviews with key players, including Sylvia Rivera and Bayard Rustin. Click here to listen.

Read – ‘The riot that changed America’s gay rights movement forever’: A Guardian article for a more in-depth understanding of the Stonewall Riots. Read here.

Iustin Balta Cojocaru Stan, Senior Software Test Engineer

There are a lot a diverse people with different mentalities that are always keen on helping and provide feedback and this coupled with the progressive mindset of the managers makes you  feel like sky is just a step towards limitless skull improvement.

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
To find what is the “Secret” behind Secret Escapes (found it out .. not telling). This and also the huge opportunity to learn more about my trade and improve on it with the full backup of the such a diverse and open minded company. And oh boy did it pay out. There are a lot a diverse people with different mentalities that are always keen on helping and provide feedback and this coupled with the progressive mindset of the managers makes you  feel like sky is just a step towards limitless skull improvement


What did you want to be when you were younger?
A painter.. and I did try to achieve that but I was striving for perfection so much that I became my worst critic. That made me join the “Critics” side (aka the dark side of art). This turned out to be my best choice since being a QA is … in essence .. criticising other peoples work based on documentation and/or requirements. And apparently I am very good at it.


What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
A bit stiff with the after taste of “corporation” but after the first 2 days of getting setup and socialising with the rest of the tech team, that faded away and was replaced by a the family vibe that is still going strong and makes you feel like you belong.Of course there is the stress of achieving goals (for me was and still is setting up the QA for the tech team) this was never imposed by the team (I stressed myself out). The entire team is very understanding and willing to help you achieve that goal in any way possible.


How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I would say that was the most hectic part. It started with using an app that allowed me to be in touch (video and message-wise) with the secret escapes team which was fine but I was also in a conversation with the Secret escapes recruiter and the dedicated application agent at the same time which were not using the app but were calling me directly. At a point I lost a bit track. The rest of the process was smooth as butter, with fast responses and feedback.


What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
The dedication and camaraderie. Secret Escapes is a family and much more than that. They will accept you with open arms and never give up on you, they will never let you down, never turn around or desert you. There is always something happening be it work related or a social event that you can join and feel as part of. You will never get bored.


What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
Real mind churning question since there are so many awesome place but by by a small margin I would have to say the road tripe I took on “Cinque terre” – which is a string of 5 old cities dotted along the western cost of Italy. It has it all, small coastal road, buildings on big rocks,  delicious sea food and surreal views. You will drive above the clouds and at some points bellow the sea level, from huge 6 lanes highways to 1 lane narrower than your car meant for 2 vehicles and from clean straights of road to almost 45˚ ramps and slopes on serpentine mountain roads. You name it they got it.

Abigail Tresadern, Management Accountant

I've always associated Secret Escapes with offering the dreamiest of travel opportunities, then once I was able to take a glimpse of the office environment and culture, my thoughts soon escalated to - 'I NEED to work here!'

 

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
I’ve always associated Secret Escapes with offering the dreamiest of travel opportunities, then once I was able to take a glimpse of the office environment and culture, my thoughts soon escalated to – ‘I NEED to work here!’

 

What did you want to be when you were younger?
I would love to say I’ve wanted to be an accountant my whole life but it’s just not believable, is it?! I’m going to go with the more realistic option of Zookeeper.

 

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
A complete whirlwind of introductions and knowledge which now seems like a distant memory, but the friendliness and welcoming feeling from the team is what I remember most.

 

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
This was my first experience partaking in a video interview which seemed daunting at first, however, I knew it was my first chance to give Secret Escapes an insight to me as a person and therefore decided to embrace the opportunity (fortunately this clearly worked in my favour)! Overall I found the process refreshingly modern, from the video interview via an app to booking my interview slot as a ‘trip’, I felt the process to be smooth and swift whilst always keeping on travel theme – very clever!

 

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
I’m approaching my 4th month at Secret Escapes which is a relatively short period of time in comparison with the knowledge and experience I have gained. I find myself confidently speaking up with new ideas and initiatives because I know they will be encouraged and not disregarded and look forward to presenting new projects to my team because I’ll always receive positive recognition for my hard work. All of these things make Secret Escapes a completely different workplace, and the one that I’ve always been looking for!

 

What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
Thailand is a destination which holds the most memories for me. Whether it was spending NYE at the craziest full moon party or a long awaited emotional reunion with my travelling sister, Thailand will always be a destination close to my heart.

Alex Cruden, Internal Communications Executive

I’d wanted to work in a tech environment for a while, after working in lots of quite traditional, rigid workplaces. I saw the advert for this job, checked out the Secret Escapes careers page and was really taken by the friendly, relaxed atmosphere that I saw. It seemed like a place that would be really rewarding to work in, and the specifics of the job ad felt like they were written for me.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
A primary school teacher. I had a great teacher in year 3 who was loads of fun and I wanted to be like him. But as I got older, I realised that it might not be as fun as he made it look, and I kind of lost interest. I also wanted to be a novelist, which is still achievable, I suppose!

What attracted you to working at Secret Escapes?
I’d wanted to work in a tech environment for a while, after working in lots of quite traditional, rigid workplaces. I saw the advert for this job, checked out the Secret Escapes careers page and was really taken by the friendly, relaxed atmosphere that I saw. It seemed like a place that would be really rewarding to work in, and the specifics of the job ad felt like they were written for me.

What was your first week at Secret Escapes like?
It was great! Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging. There was a heck of a lot of information to take in about the structure of the business and how it all works, but everyone was very supportive and reassured me that they didn’t expect me to remember everything instantly. We had lunches together and a couple of beers at the end of the week, which gave me a chance to get to know my team a bit better.

How did you find the recruitment process at Secret Escapes?
I had to do a video interview, which was quite daunting, but actually not too bad in the end. Then a couple of face-to-face interviews, in which I initially felt nervous but was made to feel very comfortable and welcome. The team were quick to get back to me at each stage, so there wasn’t much anxious waiting.

What makes Secret Escapes different to where you have worked before?
I feel really supported and trusted with the work I’m doing, which motivates me to do even better work. I already feel like my ideas and input are valued and that I actually want to be here. Plus the benefits are unlike anywhere else I’ve experienced – lots of free food, a fridge full of fizzy drinks and a quiet space with bean bags make the office a nice place to be.

What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
Oh man, don’t make me choose! I had a really wonderful time in Iceland last year. The scenery is like another planet, and it felt like a million miles away from the craziness of London. Aside from the Golden Circle – which is so, so beautiful – my two big recommendations are the Blue Lagoon (pricey, but well worth it) and a free walking tour of Reykjavik. We didn’t see the northern lights, unfortunately, but that didn’t take away from the trip.