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Meet our staff - Tennille Schell

03-Jan-2019

Tennille Schell

Remember the Cake song ‘Short Skirt and Long Jacket’? I’ve always thought it was written about Tennille. You know: 

I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what's best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
And eyes that burn like cigarettes

I want a girl with the right allocations
Who's fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack
She's playing with her jewelry
She's putting up her hair
She's touring the facilities
And picking up slack
I want a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket

I want a girl who gets up early
I want a girl who stays up late
I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
Who uses a machete, to cut through red tape

With fingernails that shine like justice
And a voice that is dark like tinted glass
She is fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack
She's touring the facilities and picking up slack
I want a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket

Tennille is the General Manager of Pinetrees Travel, and is, without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to Pinetrees. She’s sharp, motivated, brutally honest, funny, wacky, and what she doesn’t know about the travel industry isn't worth knowing.

Give her a call sometime, even if you don’t want a trip to Lord Howe – before you know it, she’ll tell you a joke, and sell you a Pinetrees holiday anyway. And you’ll send her a thank you card six months later saying it was the best holiday in years, and you’d like to return with your extended family. That’s Tennille. She knows what we need.

Where are you from? Australia! How boring. Great grandparents are German, English and Irish, does that make me an honorary ‘European’? Probably not.

Where did you go to high school? Townsville, North Queensland. Don’t tell anyone.

What did you do for fun as a teenager? I was the quiet arty type, so I painted and drew a lot. I also have a big family, so hanging out with them was a big part of growing up. We used to make home movies, and I especially remember the ‘Power Rangers’ action movie – a true masterpiece. I started a lot of hobbies as a child, but didn’t stick with many, such as learning to play the French horn when I was in primary school. This was particularly difficult since I had to take it to and from school by bicycle. I switched to the soothing sounds of the trumpet after that, a much more transportable instrument. It lasted about 6 months. I did however learn how to play the national anthem during our school assembly, and this is the highlight of my musical career to date. In high school I was always very involved with the Rock Eisteddfod, my favourite parts being a mermaid (because I was carried everywhere – not much dancing) and also when I played a ‘disease’.

Where did you go after high school? I travelled around North America and Europe. I was accepted into Bachelor of Marine Biology, something I always wanted to do after meeting a family friend who was a marine scientist for the Smithsonian. However I deferred, took a gap year, and accidently kept travelling instead of coming home to start uni. Getting my degree is still on my ‘to do’ list. Maybe when I retire, then I can use the knowledge for good by creating and nurturing a particularly impressive fish tank in the old people’s home where I can bore visitors with facts about zooxanthellae.

What did you do in your spare when you were younger? I drank a lot and danced on tables in Greece! I also learned a lot. Like how to start a life in a new place from scratch, and how to navigate around a country where you don’t speak the language - before Google maps! I learned how to make cocktails (a skill I am grateful for to this day), how to run a café, how to get a job, find a place to live, make chilli, bake muffins, ski, deal with intoxicated patrons, stand up for myself, drive a snowmobile, dance the running man, speak about 10 words in many languages, sleep on a bus (or bus station floor) and many more things, as well as how to make friends and find common ground with almost anyone.

List the countries you’ve travelled to: USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, India, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, New Zealand, South Africa, Zambia, UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Greece, and Norway.

Which countries have you lived in for longer than 6 months? Canada, UK, Ireland, Greece

What languages do you speak? Oh so many, English, Australian & American, as well as ‘North Queensland’ – a rare and not so eloquent dialect. I can count to 10 in 6 languages, does that count? Probably not.

Tell a story about an unforgettable travel adventure you’ve had: My most memorable experience was the night we were surprised by our host family in Tromsø, Norway. My friend and I were whisked away at dusk, squeezed into the thickest ski suits I’ve ever seen (think Michelin man x 10, we could hardly bend our arms and legs) and bundled under reindeer hides in a dog sled. Huskies barked and jumped with excitement before they were given the ‘hike’ command, and off we flew into the pitch black arctic wilderness. Within about 15 minutes the sky erupted into wispy pink, green and white undulating orbs and streaks, glowing across the sky. It was like melting ice-cream disappearing and reappearing everywhere you looked. I couldn’t feel my face from the cold but I know I was smiling like a loon. To this day it was the most magical thing I’ve ever seen.

Tell a story about a funny situation you’ve had while travelling: When travelling through China we were enjoying a stop in a beautiful temple when a school bus of young girls started giggling and pointing excitedly at me. One gathered the courage to ask (through sign language) if she could have her picture taken with me. Of course I obliged and smiled for a phone. Then, one by one, every girl from the bus lined up and took a photo with me, one by one, through fits of giggles and many bows and thank yous. The whole experience took around 20 minutes and the whole time I was wondering who they thought I was.

Another time, I was also a model for a chewing gum commercial in India. I had to smile TOOTHILY whilst climbing a ladder. They were going to photoshop a cliff over the ladder for the final print ad in order to demonstrate that you didn’t need to use your hands to keep your teeth clean you could just chew gum. I got paid just under $4 for the day. The model scout wanted me to stay to do a hair dryer infomercial the next day, which he said would be ‘big money and great exposure for my career’ since it was on TV. I reluctantly declined. I still wonder if I’ll ever see my smiling face on a billboard in India.

What other jobs have you had? I spent the first 9 years of ‘real life’ working in hospitality in many different cities and roles. From high end, exclusive golf courses to dodgy pubs. I then decided to get a ‘real job’ (i.e. not work nights) and started working as a retail travel agent. I began managing teams and working on leisure travel projects for corporate companies such as PWC and Leightons Group. I also ran a travel prizing and promotions business which sent lucky winners to places like the Cannes Film Festival. I briefly owned a small fashion business which taught me a lot, most pointedly that I need to work in an industry I’m passionate about – the realisation that brought me back to the travel industry.

What got you interested in hospitality? I’m one of those weird people who love looking at other people’s holiday photos! I love working with people, and I get to travel vicariously through them, and knowing I’m helping them experience their dream is very rewarding.

What’s your perfect job? I have it! If I didn’t work at Pinetrees, though, my perfect job would be rescuing all the dogs and cats from third world countries and finding them new homes. I am a magnet for stray animals when I travel and it always breaks my heart to leave them there.

How do you spend your spare time? Mostly upside down! I train in various aerial apparatus so am always hanging around upside down like a monkey and am constantly bruised and scratched up. I’m happiest either outdoors in nature or in any kind of studio - art studio, dance studio, yoga studio - you can usually find me there.

What have you done (even something really small…..) for humanity? I don’t sing in public. This is a world service, believe me. Other than that, I try to be the person anyone can talk to. I’ll always be there to listen, empathise with, and try to help in any way I can. Even if all I can do is listen. I can’t walk past anyone in the street who looks lost – I’m compelled to help them find their way, especially the elderly. I’m a wizz at Google maps! I ran the social committee in my previous job and organised many projects from decorating the children’s cancer ward at Westmead to building a sensory garden at a special needs school. We also created a fundraising event which raised over $10,000 for the medical bills of one of our colleagues who had suffered a head injury.

Meet our staff - Lara Bisoni

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