What I Do in a Day: Shannon Ries, Luxury Travel Organizer
Shannon Ries is manager of programs and special events at Williams World, Ltd., a luxury travel agency where she primarily works with art and culture clients. Her job has taken her everywhere from Brazil and Berlin to Vietnam and Qatar. When she’s not traveling, she lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, Tim.
My alarm goes off… at 7:10 a.m., but I hit snooze for 20 minutes while Tim makes me coffee with lots of creamer and then wakes me up at 7:30 a.m. I put on something comfortable (like jeans and a Zara top) and hop on a train to be in the office by 9:00 a.m. If I’m traveling (something I do at least one week per month), then I’m usually up by 6:00 a.m., wearing a designer dress (I go consignment shopping on my trips) and am ready to work by 8:00 a.m. But no matter where I am, I have to shower every morning and wash my hair—it just turns into a giant, curly mess otherwise.
My morning… at the office is spent answering emails, going over itineraries and working with clients to make sure that everything is perfect for their upcoming trip. My clients are mostly in the fine arts world and it’s my job to ensure that their trip goes smoothly. That’s why I always go to destinations twice—first on my own to scout out hotels, restaurants and activities (including exactly how long it takes to get from A to B), and then to accompany the client on their trip.
For lunch… I’ll usually have leftovers or Chipotle if I’m in New York. But when I’m traveling, it’s a three-course meal at one of the city’s best restaurants—something I look forward to after a morning of visiting museums where we’ll usually have a curator-led tour.
In the afternoon… I’ll continue organizing upcoming trips when I’m in the city, and then my colleague and I will grab happy hour drinks at 5:30 p.m. around the corner from our office. It’s completely different when I’m traveling and my afternoons are usually spent touring art studios or a private collector’s home. And while my clients might get an hour or two of rest before dinner, I’m on my feet non-stop making sure that everyone is happy and that there are no problems.
In the evening… If I’m in New York, I’ll go to the gym and then head home to start dinner. Tim usually comes home around 8:00 p.m. and will take over meal preparations. We’ll whip up something simple like salmon and vegetables or taco salad. Then we’ll watch something on TV (usually an animal documentary) before going to bed around 10:30 p.m. When I’m traveling, I’ll typically have a dinner reception (hosted by an opera house director, for example) or an event (like the ballet) to attend. Being a good conversationalist is definitely a job requirement since I often socialize with my clients, who are always very well-informed. Then I’ll head back to the hotel, catch up on some work and pass out around 11:30 p.m.
I got the job… by studying hospitality management in college and working in weddings and real estate events. After five years, I realized that I loved hospitality, but I wanted to travel more. That’s when I saw this role posted on Indeed.com and applied, and now I have my dream job. I had zero experience in art before starting, but now I can comfortably talk to anyone about up-and-coming artists and must-see exhibitions.
The best part of my job… is making connections all around the world. I’ll meet an artist at their studio in London and then see an amazing sculpture of theirs in Japan a few months later—it’s incredible. I’m also very lucky to be working with a fabulous team.
The worst part of my job… is that even if I try to anticipate every potential snag, things sometimes don’t go according to plan. One time, I was on the ground in Marfa, Texas (a tiny art town), and we were flying our clients in on a private jet. I was waiting for them on the ground when my director texted me from the plane to let me know they were landing in seven minutes. But because this airport was in the middle of nowhere, it was basically just a dirt landing strip and a hut. Suddenly, the air traffic controller tells me that you can’t land a 30-person passenger plane on the strip because it’s not long enough. Long story short, we solved the problem in under seven minutes (they were actually able to land there), and everyone was fine, but things like that can be nerve-wracking.
My most memorable moment… was when I met Anish Kapoor in his London studio and he showed us his upcoming work. That was an amazing day.