sam pezza estonia

Collette's 102nd Season: Sam Pezza, Product Design Manager

by Alyssa Smith

September 30, 2019

5 minute read

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 Samantha Pezza, Product Design Manager.

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

I have the challenging but highly rewarding task of creating dream vacations for our travelers. My personal travel style is hands on and active; I want to see, meet, touch, smell, and taste everything! I am the girl who starts a short hike in the Swiss Alps on a research trip, befriends a random hiker and ends up hiking down half a mountain lost in conversation about his exact itinerary, trail suggestions, and recommended day trips. When I am on the road designing, I get to do all of that to create the best experiences for Collette travelers.

Why does travel matter to you?

In the words of my favorite quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

What is your favorite travel memory?

I was just in the Baltic States designing a new small group tour. Prior to the trip, I learned that 22% of Estonia is wetland. I also discovered that the Estonian people place a high value on nature and spend most of their free time outdoors in bogs. So, on my design trip I set up a bogging experience with a local naturalist. We drove to the middle of nowhere, put on these crazy shoes and walked across a snow-covered bog. Our guide pointed out various plants, explained the wildlife, I touched the moss, smelled the leaves and even tasted water straight from the bog. Doing something like this, you find yourself grinning from ear to ear and you stop and think, “Wow, so this is Estonia.” It was truly a local experience and one that I will never forget.

What tour or new destination are you most excited for in this new travel season and why?

If I could retire today, I would fly straight to Croatia. This country is beautiful. It has history. It has architecture. It has fun in the sun, welcoming people and delicious food. It may be famous among tourists because of Game of Thrones but there is so much more to it than the old city walls of Dubrovnik (which are in fact, very impressive). When someone asks me, “where should I go next?,” and I tell them Croatia every time.

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

As a tour designer, I also spend a lot of time collaborating with our amazing team here at Collette. Preparing for the 102nd season, as with all seasons, I’ve been working with teams on confirming vendors, addressing customer curiosity about tours, and making sure our itineraries read authentic to the tour design and that the key highlights stand out. I’ve been speaking with our fantastic Tour Managers to review tours and on-the-road experiences. A lot of work goes into each one of our Collette tours and experiences, and we are all so excited to finally send travelers on the finished product.

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

When we are designing tours and experiences, we leave no stone unturned. Some of the best inclusions I have found for a tour have come from the most unexpected people. We have spent hours on the phone with local vendors, working on taking our tours to the next level. And that’s not just for the new tours; we are constantly enhancing our existing tours, as destinations add cool new experiences in their cities. We do not want to miss any opportunities that could enhance a traveler’s experience.

For example, I was just in France this spring looking to add some new life into our Spotlight on Paris tour. Paris has all of these trendy neighborhoods each with its own look and feel. Exploring the neighborhoods is what really makes you feel like you are in Paris, away from the tourists and long entrance lines. I wanted our travelers to get exposure to this side of the city as well, but a typical city tour would not do the area justice. So, we decided to add a Parisian food tour to the itinerary for 2020. In my head, by the end of that tour, I was French and loving it. These are the kind of experiences travelers can look forward to for the 102nd travel season.

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