We’re starting a new feature on CIREtravel.com called “8 Questions With…” This is a place to shine a spotlight on our amazing partners in the travel industry. When we say, “Now you know people who know people,” these are the “people” we know! Now, meet our first guest…
CIRE: Hello Nancy! Please introduce yourself to our CIRE family.
NANCY: Ia Orana! I’m Nancy O’Connell. I’ve been on board with Air Tahiti Nui for 17 years and am currently working as their Director of Sales for the Eastern U.S. and Canada.
CIRE: Tahiti?! WOW! You live there?
NANCY: I was born in NYC and raised in the area. I’ve moved around a bit (Tahiti, Mexico, Turks & Caicos, Florida, Colorado) and currently reside in Northern NJ.
CIRE: But you used to live in Tahiti? Tell us more…
NANCY: While working as a writer/editor with a magazine publishing house, I took a vacation with Club Med – one week at their resort in Martinique. I loved the experience so much that I applied to work with them.
Two months after my interview they called me and offered me a job at their village on Moorea in The Islands of Tahiti! I thought about it (for a good few minutes) and happily accepted.
I arrived at the international airport in Papeete and then took a 12-person puddle jumper over to Moorea. Exotic? Yes! The overwater bungalows, crystal blue lagoons, bright green mountains, awesome marine life, aroma of tiare flowers in the air, smiling Tahitian people enjoying nature and moments in life… I took it all in via my senses, but even more so, it was emotional connection.
CIRE: And now you live in New Jersey? Womp womp. Kidding… I bet you miss Tahiti, though. What do you miss most about living there?
NANCY: Luckily, since I work with Air Tahiti Nui, I do get to The Islands of Tahiti about twice a year for work. Of course, I do a pre or post vacation whenever possible. There is always something new to discover…. Having a soda with the owner of a market on Tikehau and answering his and his young grandson’s questions about the USA while learning about their atoll, scuba diving in Rangiroa with schools of colorful fish and friendly dolphins, grabbing dinner at the Roulottes (food trucks) by the cruise port in Papeete while meeting locals and tourists, waking up with the sun and walking out to silence and stillness… I will always come back here. There’s a special feeling in French Polynesia – they tell me it is the life force energy “Mana.”
CIRE: It sounds like a great job perk. What do you love most about working for Air Tahiti Nui?
NANCY: Working with so many interesting people in the travel industry and seeing them at conferences, in their offices or on a FAM (familiarization trip) in French Polynesia. I’m always learning something new. Oh, and, of course… I love traveling to The Islands of Tahiti!
CIRE: You’ve worked at a few different companies in our industry. What do you think sets Air Tahiti Nui apart?
NANCY: Yes, I work for an airline, but to be clear… I work for a TAHITIAN Airline. The Polynesian flight crew are proud ambassadors for their country. Always greeting our guests with a smile and answering questions about the islands. The tiare flower (national bloom of Tahiti) is given out on board, and there are images of the islands throughout the cabins.
We have a brand new fleet of 787-9s – Tahitian Dreamliners. Whether you fly in Business, Premium or Economy Class – it’s a comfortable, relaxing, happy flight. We really are Tahiti in the air.
CIRE: Where are you going on your next vacation?
NANCY: Tahiti Tourisme has Parau Parau (Product Manager’s event) in March, which I will be attending. I’m hoping to stay afterwards for some vacation time to see a new island or atoll. Of the five archipelagoes (Society, Tuamotu, Marquesas, Austral and Gambier), I haven’t been to the Australs yet. I’m hoping to see Rurutu and the humpback whales that are there part of the year.
CIRE: When we visit Tahiti, what’s your favorite local dish that we should try?
NANCY: Mahi Mahi with vanilla sauce, accompanied by crispy, hot fries and a glass of Sancerre. Yum! Perfect.
CIRE: Yes, please! And finally, what’s your top travel advice for our readers out there?
NANCY: No matter where I’m headed, I always do some research to learn a few keys words and understand some basic fundamentals of the culture. Once there, I observe, listen, stay curious and ask the locals for some tips.
Great advice! Thank you, Nancy! Or should we say, Mauru’ uru?