After being thrown into the deep end, so to speak, and learning how to manage the extensive travel and the job itself, I was starting to find my rhythm. The initial feeling of being overwhelmed that came from simply learning to travel both nationally and internationally, while managing large groups, was turning into a finely tuned skill.
My second year of travel started out with a magnificent trip to Paris, which turned out to be one of my worst nightmares. It still tops the list for the most demanding and overall craziest requests from the on-site client. The Paris contingent was a non-alcoholic beverage company.
The standard request for beverage clients, was to always have their product available at group events, meal functions, activities and on the buses when traveling to or from anywhere. This meant hauling cases of product everywhere, carrying coolers, finding ice and making sure all company products were available, always. This, in and of itself, was fairly standard and part of the expectations for beverage clients.
What was outside the standard protocol, was that this particular client wanted us to build displays out of the product at every meal function and at every tour or activity location. This meant lugging even more product with us and arriving before the guests to build displays. This type of activity was not looked upon as very civilized by the French.
Covering all competitor vending machines along the bus route to or from various destinations was a fun, new request too. This meant we had to buy sheets and travel the route before the buses to cover any offending competitor machines. Of course, this was not appreciated by locals and area vendors, so we had to hover near the vending machines to fend off any disgruntled Parisians, before the bus drove by, for two seconds, with the attendees.
Paris is also where I had 20 minutes to load 500 people on 27 different buses. It was controlled chaos, but with military precision the buses were loaded and dispersed across town. And yes, all 27 buses had product available, just in case someone got thirsty on the 15 minute ride to their dinner restaurant.
When I returned home to the States, I can honestly say, I never purchased or drank that product again.
The remainder of my second year as a Trip Director was quite enjoyable with travels to Las Vegas, Atlanta, Orlando, Captiva Island, Phoenix, Kona, Rome/Venice, San Diego and Alaska.
Rome and Venice need mention, of course, as they were breathtaking. Sights included the Colosseum, a private viewing with The Pope, a Gondola ride down the Grand Canal, a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica and trips to Murano and Burano. I did end up leaving one of the attendees on Murano but that is another story as it was not accidental on my part.