Pamela Mattia

Westbury, New York Travel Agent

Annual Reunion in Mexico

Every year for the past 12 years, I have planned a trip for seven of my best friends and our husbands. These trips have been a wonderful way for all of us to stay in touch—even as our lives have evolved, and every time, we try to push our limits and do something adventurous.

Our most recent trip was to Akumal, a lovely beach resort area on the Yucatan Peninsula south of Cancun. We tried zip-lining, swam with the sea turtles (Akumal actually means “place of sea turtles” in the Maya language), and amazingly, I’d never kayaked before but I did that with my friends! One thing I didn’t do was eat fried crickets; it is supposed to be very healthy, but I decided to play photographer and let my husband do the dining!

These trips have been a great bonding experience for my friends and me and have really held us together, but this year’s getaway was incredibly special. One member of our group has multiple sclerosis and normally can’t go anywhere. She made the effort to join us and it was a big thing for all of us and very emotional. I arranged everything so she could experience as much as possible, and it was one of the most satisfying trips I’ve planned!

Some of the lessons I have learned from my life in travel

People have all kinds of quirks and phobias and it is important to listen and respond in a caring manner. For example, one client has an aversion to odd numbers and I always have to be sure to reserve even numbered rows on her flights and even numbered floors at hotels. It’s quirky, but it’s one of those details that makes a big different to my client and is easy to comply with, so long as I pay attention. 

It is important to really listen to everyone, and to probe for information and clarification. For example, clients often say one thing but mean another, and it’s up to me to pay attention and make sure that we are on the same page. Similarly, hotel managers will often provide amazing information about their properties and destinations if you pay attention.