Aaron Sheperd is General Manager at Minute Suites’ Charlotte Douglas International Airport location. Always a hard worker, Minute Suites was a third job until it became his whole career. Aaron tells us why this career was a total surprise to him and gives us his best travel advice.
How did you get started at Minute Suites?
Working in an airport is something I never thought I’d be doing—I’m actually terrified to fly. I graduated with an English and journalism major and got a job in that field. Minute Suites was a third job—and I worked third shift. Pretty soon, they talked me into full-time, busier shift. Then I was promoted to supervisor. Before I could get comfortable, I was asked to be General Manager.
I never thought of myself as hospitality, but I stayed and made this my career. People can actually spend the night and stay inside such a public place? That’s such a brilliant concept. The industry is booming and there’s a great future for Minute Suites. There’s nobody like us in the U.S. I want to be a part of that.
And yet you don’t like to fly?
It’s a running joke that I’m afraid of planes, and I am. But I was born in Germany and grew up traveling a lot. In my adult life, I’ve been a few places in the U.S. but I also drive when I can—to DC, New York, Texas, Florida, New Orleans.
Now, I’d call myself a mid-range traveler. I prefer to drive, but I’ll get on a plane if I have to.
Every now and then, my fear of flying slips out with travelers, but I’m much more comfortable than I used to be.
How did you get over your fear?
I had one of the best trips of my life in Vegas with my parents and cousin. My parents travel all the time. They’re from a little country town in Alabama, and after my dad joined the army, they ended up traveling across Europe. I hadn’t flown in years when they offered to take me on to Vegas after my college graduation.
They called me every week, afraid I’d chicken out. My mom got me some Dramamine. My dad got me shots. I took both. When we got on the plane, I had a lot of dread but then the meds kicked in and I slept the whole way. I’m not much of a drinker and had never taken Dramamine. I don’t recommend mixing it with alcohol, but it was effective.
When I woke up at landing and realized I survived, I felt encouraged. For the next flight, I didn’t take anything. I was actually able to look outside, and it was such a beautiful view. I was flying smack dab in the middle of the U.S. and the ground looked like a checkerboard. That was a big confidence-booster because I hadn’t flown in so long. I didn’t even feel scared.
Why is Vegas your favorite trip ever?
This was about 10 years ago now, but I can still remember my experience really well. I like the terrain and weather in Nevada, and Vegas is such a unique city. The whole thing is like Times Square… but campier.
We stayed the Tahitian Retreat, which was new then. Everything was expanding away from the strip at that time, but now, I’d tell people to stay on the strip. At our hotel, I had my own suite and there was a pool and tons of entertainment. Like every hotel in Vegas, it was completely self-sufficient.
We could have stayed there the whole time, but walked around a lot to see the sights. Night was my favorite: when the lights were bright and the sky was dimming. My mom and cousin and I went to Bellagio to see the light show and then to all the different casinos to see the themes and experience them all.
My dad stayed at the poker table. He tried to get me to play with him, but people were bothered that my dad had brought his 22-year-old son. And gambling is boring to me, so I went with my mom. All she does is play a little slots. In 20 minutes, she won $3K. She’s lucky like that.
We finally pried my dad away to see Lion King and do some hiking at Red Rock Canyon. Red rock mountains with snow… beautiful.
Is there anywhere else you want to go?
There’s really no place I’m itching to get to. I do like Florida because I’ve traveled to different places, like Miami and Orlando. I’ll go back, but I can’t think of a place I’m really eager to visit.
What’s your biggest travel tip in general?
Go with the flow. Everything doesn’t always go as planned. Have an itinerary, but not one that’s so jam-packed that it can’t bend. Don’t let a change of plans or something unexpected ruin your trip. Have an open mind and bounce back.
I see this a lot in my work too: people are happiest when they go with the flow. Do you have a favorite trip or know how to travel well? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always looking for traveler stories to share.