Do you remember that old TV show Name that Tune? I feel like I am a contestant on this show just about every day as I sit at my desk and listen to on hold music. In fact as I type this I am doing exactly that. This particular on hold message is rather irritating as there are a few bars of lounge style piano music interrupted by a voice message “All of our river cruise specialists are assisting other guests. Please remain on the line and we will answer your call as soon as possible. Alternatively if you would like to request a call back when the next river cruise specialist is available press #”.
This is the exciting world of being a travel agent right now. On hold times are longer than ever, probably due to the surge of bookings that we are experiencing right now plus the fact that many of the suppliers and tour operators had to furlough many of their staff.
It is not unusual to hear of hold times going as long as eight hours and so we get to know the music quite well of the different companies. There are some favourites. One river cruise company uses the music of Peer Gynt which sort of transports you away to mystical Baltic locations and is quite soothing.
Then there are the companies who use your on hold time to update you on their current policies … all the time to the background music of soft instrumentals. These people they hire to do the voice over deserve Oscars. They are always so patient sounding with soothing voices that could conduct a meditation in the middle of Time Square. It might be helpful to hear these tips and updated policies but it can be annoying when you have them on hold while you get on with other things. I am in the middle of trying to work out airfare for a river cruise and this lady on the phone keeps interrupting my train of thought.
Sometimes the on hold time can stretch so long you just put it on a spare phone and carry on working at your desk. Hours pass, you have lunch, pop out for a coffee and come back – same piano music and soothing tones of the lady talking about future travel credits and refunds. It becomes so much a part of the background noise that eventually no one notices. The day progresses, couriers arrive, eventually time to go home. I pack up my bag, switch off my computer, turn off the background music and then suddenly hear this lady talking. “Who the hell is that?” I think! Maybe I should just leave it on hold and then by the morning I will be somewhere near the head of the line up.
Of course the problem is when the on hold music is too good. I heard a story from a colleague who got so into the music that he started singing along – at the top of his voice – when the call was picked up the agent on the other side had a good laugh with him.
It was only a matter of time before someone made a proper On Hold Music song – love it