by Kimberly Button
Before she graduated from college, Jessica Pease knew she had a passion to be of service to others but wasn’t sure how. Combining her desire to help clients with the opportunity to explore the world led to her dream job as a AAA Travel Agent for the past seven years.
How did you become a travel agent?
Fate. I was working on a bachelor of science degree in communication–broadcasting and a minor in psychology at Western Carolina University. I knew even before I graduated that it wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to go back to school again. I wanted to use my degree as a launching pad for something I was passionate about and have the ability to learn and grow. When this position became available, it hit me that it’s what I really wanted to do. The travel industry is always evolving and AAA was willing to train me. It’s been a dream to work for AAA.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the support I get from AAA. They’ve worked really hard to keep us supported and trained and that’s helped keep me going. Of course, it’s always fun to book travel!
Have you traveled lately?
My husband and I took two cruises in 2019 — a Southern Caribbean Carnival cruise for our honeymoon in April, and then a Royal Caribbean cruise in the fall. We had two cruises planned for 2020, but they were cancelled. Looking ahead, one of the things we’re excited about doing this year is going to Walt Disney World to go to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where my husband can make his own lightsaber.
What’s on your clients’ “to-go” lists right now?
I have so many clients begging to be able to go to Europe and Canada and all the places that still have closed borders. They’re not interested in interim trips to other destinations, because if they love Europe they’re willing to wait until it opens to travel. When it does, they enjoy taking guided tours and river cruises. My clients that have always been interested in going to the Caribbean are still going there, it just might be a little different. Instead of cruises, now they’re booking all-inclusive stays. I’ve had clients go places that are open, such as Mexico, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Aruba. I was called the “Caribbean Queen” in our office because I have a knack for being able to book a place that’s great for my clients and they come back happy. I also book a lot of cruises to the Caribbean and Alaska.
How has booking vacations changed since COVID-19?
Now with booking, there’s one extra step of making sure clients are still able to go, even after they book. Also, we let them know if they need a PCR test or a health authorization form to submit to the country they are traveling to. There are some changes regarding the flexibility of some vendors, but otherwise it’s much the same.
What’s your most memorable vacation?
It would be the Rocky Mountaineer “Journey Through the Clouds” itinerary I took in 2015. There’s just no better way to experience the majesty of the region other than doing it by train. The second would be my honeymoon in Barbados. We took a snorkeling catamaran cruise excursion and the people on the boat were fantastic. I can’t stop thinking about the food. We saw so many turtles and flying fish. It was fun to experience something so different and we’d like to spend more time there again.
What’s the most memorable trip you’ve planned for a client?
I worked with a client whose dream was to take a train trip across the United States with his family. He has a spinal injury that caused paraplegia. His family lives in Chicago, so he flew up there to meet them and they started an Amtrak vacation down to the Grand Canyon and over to San Francisco. We had a few hurdles to make sure he had the right type of accommodations on the train and booking tours and buses in the Grand Canyon and San Francisco. I learned so much about booking accessible travel. My client is now planning an Amtrak trip to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.
Visit your local AAA office to speak with a AAA Travel Agent or call 1-800-759-5386.
Jessica can be reached at: (704) 815-0570
(Traveler Spring 2021)