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Collette's 102nd Season: Melanie McDonald, Tour Manager

Morgan Hughes Author PIC
by Morgan Hughes

October 07, 2019

As we officially kick off our 102nd season, we’re sitting down with some of the people who truly know our tourism company and all the dedication, creativity, and innovation it takes to craft a lineup like the one slated for the 2020-2021 year. Next up is Melanie McDonald, Tour Manager.

What's the most exciting part of your travel tourism job – the thing that keeps you coming back day after day?

The most exciting thing, for me personally, is that at the beginning of every tour when I’m preparing, I think that these guests are experiencing this destination for the first (and probably, only) time. I want this experience to be the best and most memorable ever. Getting them to really enter into being a part of where they are and not just reading it or seeing it -- I love being a part of that in their lives.

I also find a lot of joy in watching the relationships that are made on our tours, and seeing people who are making plans at the end of tour to get to know them again, who didn’t know each other on day one!

Why does travel matter to you?

Travel matters because reading about a destination or seeing pictures is not the same experience as actually delving into the culture. I always think back to that same first spot, where I have the ability to have guests experience something that I may have seen many times, but they never have.

Even if they’ve seen pictures of it, it’s not the same. It’s actually physically standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or standing at the base of Zion National Park and looking up. For many people, that will be the only time they get to experience that, and it’s my job to make it the most memorable and unbelievable experience.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite memories usually happen during the farewell dinner. I watch the group during the welcome dinner and then I’m blown away by the transformation that occurs throughout the tour. The bonding, the friendships, the sharing – it happens time and time again.

The dinners that are most memorable to me are ones when guests’ cameras are going like crazy. They want to have that last memory of the bond they’ve created over that tour. I have always been amazed at how, in one short period of time in someone’s life, they can bond like that. It’s because Collette has provided this amazing experience for them to share TOGETHER. They’re not sharing it with someone back home, they’re sharing it with the people who experience it with them.

What does the 102nd season mean to you as a member of the Collette team?

Traveling with Collette has been the biggest blessing of my life. The opportunities that Collette has given me to travel all over the world -- they’re priceless. I can’t even imagine, if had I gone another route in my life, what I would have missed out on.

What do you want our guests to know about Collette and this new travel season?

102 years! We listen and must be doing something right.

I am blown away by the changes at Collette. I’ve been here for over 30 years. With the changes in technology, and how Collette has always stayed current – we’re right up there. I know that’s why we’ve been so successful. I look at Collette and I am very thankful that we have a team that is on the cutting edge, and continues to be. We’re going to be around for many, many years to come -- for 100 years or more.

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