Helen Hays, social media manager at Ginger Juice, on hard work, Facebook and growing up in the travel industry.
Dubbed high street heroes following their acquisition of all 555 Thomas Cook stores and with a family business that’s been selling holidays for more than 30 years, the Hays are travel’s equivalent of A-list celebrities. However, Helen Hays, (29), daughter of Hays Travel owners John and Irene, has set her sights on making waves of her own.
“I didn’t particularly want to spend my life working for my dad,” she says. “I started doing summers when I was 15 and continued at university. Even with a degree in business, John still had me on minimum wage. And when I annoyed him, he would put me in customer service. I still can’t listen to [our hold music] Walking on Sunshine; it makes my skin crawl,” she laughs.
From checking insurance codes – “travel’s equivalent of shelling peas” – to heading up a team of seven as digital marketing manager, Helen has proved a healthy work ethic runs in the family.
“I really embraced social media at Hays. People weren’t using it to their full advantage back in 2014.”
Her next job focused on that remit – she joined social media agency Ginger Juice in 2016. “I’d bump into owner Bruce Martin. We’d go for pints and talk about social media in travel. I was asking him for advice and the next thing I know I’ve got a job. We get on well, we call ourselves Batman and Robin!
With a role that comprises advertisement delivery, consultancy, strategy, training and agent visits, this social media superhero doesn’t shy away from hard work.
For agents investing in social media, Helen advises: “The best ROI is on Facebook. Facebook ads are still great value for money. Play around with them and put a bit of budget behind it. Start with £5 or £10 and scale up when you get the results.”
And for agents who want to improve their social strategy, Helen suggests going back to basics. “Agents should be focusing on the fundamentals. Go back to basics and consider how the end-user sees the content.”
Nick Hughes, sales director at Gold Medal and Travel 2, sponsors of Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders.
Helen is an outstanding example of someone who is using her talents to her advantage. After taking on the core experiences from her family business, then stepping outside her comfort zone, she’s applied what’s she learnt to forge her career.
It’s also great to see Helen using her knowledge of both social media and travel to make an impact in the industry – John and Irene should be very proud of their daughter.