AAA Travel Agent, Fayetteville, N.C.
Stacie Johnson’s love affair with Spain began when she was eight. “My mom gave me a flamenco doll with a long, flowy green and black dress,” she says. Her family never made it to Spain, but Johnson kept her doll as a reminder of her dream destination. Decades later, when given the opportunity to submit an itinerary for the AAA Carolinas Travel Agent Challenge, Johnson began the trip with a nod to her childhood doll.
What inspired your dream itinerary?
I want to see that dress at a real flamenco show! Americans are so busy; we never relax, we never disconnect. Even when we go on a cruise, we’re worried about the Wi-Fi package. One of the reasons Spain has always been my number one bucket list destination is because of their easy going culture and vast history. I want to experience that culture.
What are some challenges you faced in arranging the trip?
My main challenge was prioritizing for just 10 days. I would not want to miss Barcelona, Madrid, or Pamplona. While I’m normally a beach person — and Barcelona has beautiful beaches — you’ve got to get in with the locals. My Barcelona itinerary includes a visit to the Sagrada Familia basilica and time to explore Gaudy’s famous architecture and a traditional flamenco show.
What can a AAA Travel Agent offer that AAA Members would not typically be able to plan on their own?
Anybody can find a trip and purchase it online, but if you have any trouble, there’s nobody you can call to get help. The number one thing I offer to my clients is me. My clients have my cell and call me whenever. If they get stuck in an airport, even on a Sunday when I’m not ordinarily in the office, I’m on it.
What is an example of an interesting challenge you've met while working with a client?
Recently I planned a cruise for a couple who loved it so much that while they were cruising, they worked with an on-board agent to book another cruise for their 55th wedding anniversary. They actually booked two back-to-back trips so they could sail longer and stay in the same cabin the whole time. Unfortunately, they were notified later that the second leg was no longer available so they would have to change their date or cancel. Luckily, I have a great relationship with the business development manager with Celebrity, our travel partner. We were able to find a fantastic cruise with the original dates my clients wanted. I was even able to plan a special anniversary dinner for two!
Need help planning your dream trip? Visit your local AAA office or call 800-750-5386 to speak with a AAA Travel Agent.
(Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Traveler)