World, Meet My New Friends
I realize that I never really detailed my fellow agents on the trip, so I thought I’d share a little more about some of the individuals that I’ve really bonded with.
This is a very small fam trip – we’re a group of only 10 people from across the country within the Virtuoso network (mostly). For such a small trip, I’m very fortunate to have a fellow agent and friend of mine to share the experience with. Laura and I met at Travel Mart through our mutual friend (hi, Cassie!) and were both named to Travel Agent Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 for this year. She proved to be a great saleswoman when she convinced me to come to French Polynesia. “The price you’ll be paying for airfare, transfers, food, and six nights hotel stays will equal the price of one night in an overwater bungalow,” she had informed me at our regional meeting. Always the researcher, she’s very right. I keep joking with her that it’s nice to be travel companions because we both observe the destination in such a different way, it’s almost like living the trip twice at the same time (did that make any sense?). For instance: I’m such a big picture kind of person, constantly on the move and wanting to go, go, go. It surprises me when Laura takes a moment to inspect a local plant or point out a fruit stand – she’s very detail oriented and has been a blast to travel with. Besides that, we both have a very similar background in the business: brand new to the industry and working with similar demographics, marketing regions, and job description. It’s been interesting to share stories and ideas with one another. If nothing else, that’s really the most that I’ve gotten out of this trip – learning from the people around me about the industry and their personal experiences within, as well as bonding over our love of travel. The relationships developed on a fam trip of this size and within this group are very genuine – I know that I’ve made some friends for life.
For instance, I was chatting with Lori, an agent from California, on the boat transfer from Le Taha’a about my personal future in the industry. Lori is so encouraging when she finds out about my dreams (hosting a show on the Travel Channel), that it really gets my wheels turning about how to make it happen. I can actually say that I’ve really solidified a game plan in my head within the past afternoon and some of those ideas came from the conversation that Lori and I had today. Lori was one of those people that you just instantly click with when you meet – I was sitting in the seat behind her on the bus our first night when she turned around and introduced herself. She’s very energetic, which is probably what drew me to her that first day, but she’s also just one of the kindest people that I’ve met. You can instantly tell that she’s got a good heart.
When I mention genuine friendships, I feel that I’ve really gotten close to our fearless Aussie leaders, Emma (pictured above) and Andrew from Travel 2/Islands in the Sun. Emma just took me under her wing when she found out that I couldn’t ride a bike, but in a totally humorous manner. I love her easygoing personality and obvious ambition – she and I have a lot of goals in common. Laura, Emma and I have spent some time together over the past few days and really click as traveling companions – I would love trips in the future with these two.
Our other leader, Andrew, is absolutely hilarious – he and I shared many inappropriate jokes out of boredom during a few site inspections. The sites are rarely ever boring, but sometimes you can only see so many spa treatment rooms before someone needs to point out an ill proportioned statue. He’s very concerned that I’m going to detail some of those jokes in this blog, but you can rest assured, Andrew, I’ll only tell them to our peers at Travel Mart. Kidding!
Finally, Sally from TravelSmiths in New Jersey (Ramona, if you’re reading this, she wanted me to tell you hello!) has just struck me as one of the most caring people that I’ve met. She’s very much a mother hen to Valerie, an agent from her office who is traveling with us (Val was also a 30 Under 30 – she’s been a little quieter than the rest of us, probably because the rest of us won’t shut up, but she’s very knowledgeable in the travel biz and super interesting to talk to). Their relationship has been so striking to watch and I got to experience Mama Sally’s comforting nature during the terrifying mountain tour in Moorea. She comforted me and wrapped me up in a big hug once we stepped off of the truck – it meant so much to me! She’s just the spunkiest, sweetest thing and Val is a lucky girl to have her as a boss and a friend.
We have a few other agents that I didn’t mentioned in detail, namely because I’ve gotten so close to the ones listed above that I just had to share those stories. That certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t important – I’ve felt like I learned a ton from Dianne, Jenny, and Tammi; it’s just so interesting to get to know other, well established agents like them. The group as a whole really clicks well – everyone gets along wonderfully and there are never any moments of silence (then again, we are a group of travel agents – they don’t make us very quiet). While seeing the country has been spectacular, getting to know each and every one of the individuals on this trip has been the most beneficial part of this trip.