Jenna Jones’ Diary: Reporting from the Grape Escapes Frontline

Jenna J

 

Cups of tea: 6

Most unusual snack of the day: Babybel dipped in houmous

Number of times I’ve checked the Daily Mail app: 2 (fine, it was actually 5, but I’m only looking at the headlines!)

Glasses of wine: 1 (at the time of writing anyway!)

06:00 My alarm goes off (I really need to remember to switch it off!) As the ‘commute’ from my bed to my laptop is only a few metres I can definitely afford to sleep for a little longer.

07:12 Despite my best efforts to sleep in, my brain is already fully engaged. The Government’s advice on Covid-19 changes so rapidly that I need to take time to process the effects that it will have on me and my family, as well as on Grape Escapes. Wonder whether we have enough toilet roll.

07:25 Make breakfast for Dexter the Westie. Although he has absolutely no idea about Covid-19, he’s glad that Mummy is spending a lot more time at home.

07:35 As milk is reserved for the copious amount of tea we’re drinking at the moment (I haven’t started recycling teabags yet, but it’s an option!), toast is on the menu for breakfast.

Jenna J

07:45 Toy with the idea of only getting dressed from the waist up as I have a conference call scheduled with the management team this morning. Have second thoughts and opt for a shower, a smart-casual outfit, a blow dry and a full face of makeup. My partner Eliot thinks it’s rather odd that I bother to wear makeup to work at home, but it helps me to get into ‘work mode’.

08:30 Daily briefing with the rest of the management team. We’ve had to make some really tough decisions over the last few days, but our main focus is ensuring that Grape Escapes survives the pandemic. We are fortunate enough to be in a really strong position, but the effects have been really devastating the travel industry in general.

10:38 Time for a cup of tea, I think. Maybe a biscuit as well. Eliot is an absolute biscuit fiend so it has been essential to have an emergency stash for myself- I’ve hidden them in the cleaning cupboard as I know he’ll never look in there (I just hope he doesn’t read this!)

10:48 The sales inbox is usually bursting at the seams at this time of morning; new enquiries, feedback on an exciting proposal and completed booking forms have usually all come in overnight, and a constant stream of them appear throughout the day. The Sales office would usually be a hive of activity; each of my team thriving under the pressure of such a high volume of enquiries and all in high spirits. Now, I’m alone and facing an inbox of just three emails- it’s so surreal.

Jenna J

11:01 One email is from David, a regular Grape Escapes client, who along with his wife Jane, travels with us once or twice a year. They have their first trip of the year booked for June, so I’d sent him an email yesterday to see if he wanted to think about postponing at this stage. As the Corona virus developed, we decided that we would contact all of our clients who had trips booked over the next few months and offer them complimentary postponement to save them from having to cancel a trip which they were really looking forward to. For some clients, travel to certain regions was not only advised against, but in many cases, impossible. For others, perhaps restrictions will have been lifted by the time they are due to travel but with so much ‘uncertainty’, we can’t at this time guarantee the high standard of trip we usually offer our clients. With postponements offered until the end of 2021, our clients will be able to judge the recovery progress before giving us their new travel dates. David and Jane are so disappointed that their trip may not be able to go ahead, but know it’s for the best and assure me that they whole-heartedly trust Grape Escapes to rearrange their trip when the time is right.

11:30 Kettle is on again. Eliot is rummaging through the cupboards for snacks. He pulls out a packet of crackers which have been hidden somewhere at the back for I dread to think how long. I try to hide a smile when he offers me one, which he accepts as affirmation. He covers them with jam and we pretend we’re eating Jammy Dodgers.

11:39 Dexter has been exceptionally well behaved up until this point (he has just qualified as a therapy dog, but sadly, as our new friends are all in the vulnerable category, we haven’t had the opportunity to visit anyone yet), however he’s starting to get a bit fidgety. I might have surreptitiously given the signal for him to jump on my lap a few times this morning, but it’s definitely time for our one walk of the day.

Jenna J

 

13:00 Up until now, I’ve been in denial about how much I miss my Gregg’s sausage roll at lunchtime.

13:17 One of the other emails I received was a new enquiry from Sandra. With plenty of time to kill, Sandra has turned her thoughts to her 60th birthday in 2021 and the possibility of taking some friends to the Champagne region to celebrate. I give her a call as we find that speaking on the phone, rather than emailing back and forth gives us a greater understanding of our clients’ requirements. We have a wonderful chat and I make some suggestions of different activities we can include. Number one on Sandra’s list is a tour and tasting at Moët et Chandon as Dom Pérignon is her absolute favourite, and when I mention that we can arrange a private cellar tour for her and her friends, she is absolutely ecstatic!

13:40 One of the nice things about being less busy than usual is that I can work on Sandra’s tailor-made itinerary straight away, while it is still fresh in my mind. Everyone in the Grape Escapes sales team takes great pride in their work and gains a huge amount of satisfaction from knowing that they have created the ‘perfect’ trip for each client. In my opinion, Champagne is the greatest wine region in the world, and I visit there as frequently as I can, so I often get a pang of jealousy when I create an itinerary as fantastic as Sandra’s. I hit send and genuinely look forward to receiving her feedback.

Champagne

15:10 The rest of the afternoon is dedicated to creating new packages. Full of inspiration and always open to new ideas, whenever one of those lightbulb moments occur, the team will jot down their idea on a list. As outstanding as many of these ideas are, we just never get time to create them all! Now is the perfect time to form these ideas into spectacular packages so they’re ready for post-Corona travel.

17:00 Dinner time (Eliot is a brilliant cook so I happily leave this to him), followed by a Netflix marathon. And potentially another glass of wine?

Rest…. And repeat! Stay safe and well everyone! 🙂

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