This month, we’re shining the spotlight on Jenny, whose quick smile & brilliant sense of humor brighten our lives. Jenny’s passion for travel took hold at the age of 12 when she went on a school trip to the German-speaking countries in Europe. Since then, she has traveled to 41 countries (& counting)!
What brought you to Fellowship Travel & how has your role evolved over time?
After I graduated from the University of Richmond, I went to the Lucas Travel School. I wasn’t happy at the leisure agency I went to work for, so I interviewed here at FTI & got the J-O-B!
When I first started working at FTI, there wasn’t a desk ready, so I got trained in everything – from how to use the FedEx machine to ticketing. A desk opened in the air-only department (now group air sales) where I worked for 13 years. I moved on to the Tour Department & started a brand new position – Account Manager. Over time, that was changed to Tour Coordinator. The department has grown since then & I’ve been recently promoted to Lead Tour Coordinator.
My 20th FTI anniversary is on March 8, 2018.
Tell us about a particularly memorable travel experience.
Picking one is impossible! One of my earliest memorable travel experiences was my visit to Ephesus. It’s not that Ephesus is my favorite archaeological site of all time, but it’s my most memorable because it was the first. I didn’t realize how much I loved archaeology or exploring archaeological digs before I went there.
Another cool experience was the sea cave canoe tour in Thailand. It wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought it would be dark & difficult to see, but as we were canoeing through the cave, suddenly the scenery opened up to an open-air, natural wonder. There were animals I had never seen before as well as turtles, monkeys & birds. It was amazing.
A more funny memory was when my mom & I planned a trip to Italy – my favorite country. We were traveling with a great group of people. On our way into Venice, we were talking about my mom’s fear of birds. When we were in San Marco Square, there were pigeons everywhere. A guy in our group thought it would be funny to throw bird seed at my mom. I’ve never seen birds move so fast as they converged on that spot & before I knew it my mom was running, top speed!
Where do you wish more people traveled to & why?
I really just wish people would travel more, period. Everyone should get a passport & experience another culture. Get out of your comfort zone & see how other people survive in a country completely different than ours. I wish people would go to some unique places. Go to Poland, Jordan, Sri Lanka. … Make it a goal to go somewhere none of your friends have been.
Where was the last place you traveled to & the next place you’re going?
Last year I traveled to Guatemala, closely followed by Iceland. They were both for FTI, leading groups to experience those countries. In Guatemala, we visited a humanitarian organization we work with. You always see commercials with the cute little kids with dirty faces, but the reality of the way people live there was really overwhelming. You find yourself just wanting to make things better for them.
My most recent international trip was to Iceland. I led a group of educators to check out the country’s myriad of study abroad options – from geology to genomes. It was the first trip I’d been on that was totally dedicated to nature. Other than a little city life in Reykjavik, it’s really all about the environment. We saw waterfalls, ice fields & even whales. Since it was winter, we also saw the amazing Northern Lights.
My next trip is to Germany – with Billion Soul – to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses to the church door. After that, my next big trip is going to be to Romania. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years & years, & years. It’s me taking my own advice to see something no one else I know has seen.
What’s your favorite place you’ve been?
My favorite country is Italy. It has anything anyone could ever want. From north to south, east to west & everything in between. Friendly people, amazing wine, delicious food & phenomenal archaeological sites such as the Coliseum & Pompeii. The art. The art. Michelangelo came out of this country. I don’t know where else you could go & get so much. It’s home to my favorite city on earth – Venice. Romantic, dreamy. There are no cars. I hate cars. Don’t you want to go somewhere there are no cars? Then you should go to Venice.
Best meal you’ve ever had overseas?
A few years ago I went to Israel & Jordan with my boss & some coworkers. On our last night, our tour guide took us to a local restaurant. They brought out local dish after local dish after local dish. It was completely & totally amazing. Middle Eastern delight at its finest. I don’t know why people don’t think of the Middle East when talking about haute cuisine.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about many things, including travel, of course. Wine, for those who don’t know me; I’m a little bit of a connoisseur. I love wine pairings, tastings, expos, etc.
“MARCH MADNESS MAY AS WELL BE CALLED JENNY MADNESS”
Most of my customers know I love the University of Richmond Spiders. I have a personalized Yeti cup with a giant spider on the side. I love our football & basketball programs & have season tix to all the games. March madness may as well be called Jenny madness. The office goes crazy competing with one another. We bring in family & friends to play along too.
What is something your customers don’t know about you?
My biggest joy, on a daily basis, is dancing. I found a program at the start of my weight loss journey called Dance Trance. I had never found a program that I could stick to my whole life. But I got in there & got lost in the music & dance moves. Before I knew it, an hour had gone by! It’s been about 5 years, almost 6 in January. Definitely my happy place & what makes me smile.
In fact, I love Dance Trance so much I became an instructor. Once a week, I’m planning a playlist & leading my fellow dancers through sweat & fun.
What’s your favorite thing about working at FTI?
There are several to be completely honest or I wouldn’t have stayed so long. We really are more of a family than coworkers. We’re family-oriented, not big business.
Also, the company is just so flexible & open. We can wear casual clothes & speak our minds. People listen.
I’d also have to say their generosity. The travel benefits have always been phenomenal. The company has sent me to a variety of places that would’ve been out of my reach if I hadn’t worked here.
For more on FTI & our wonderful team, visit www.fellowship.com/about-us.
It’s a big world. Get out there!
Your FTI Team