The December issue of Conde’ Nast Traveler carries their annual list of the world’s top travel specialists. Online travel agencies have revolutionized the way that travel is booked, certainly something is lost in the process but for the median airline ticket it’s overkill to pay a human to do things for you.
For higher end trips, for complicated trips, for experiences there’s little that can replace an expert with local knowledge, contacts, and an understanding of how to deliver more than a mass product. And several individuals are recognized in the magazine for their ability to consistently deliver on those things for clients.
I’ve been honored to be selected for the list for the work I do as part of my award booking service, for the third year in a row.
Wendy Perrin curates the list and here’s how she describes it.
The travel planners collected here represent the best blend of destination knowledge, insider connections, user-friendliness, and value for your dollar that I’ve found in more than two decades of scrutinizing the travel industry for this magazine. They have almost all been road-tested by Condé Nast Traveler readers, editors, or both. Of the more than 10,000 travel agents and tour operators who have tried to break onto this list since its inception 13 years ago, only a tiny fraction have made the grade—this year, 150 specialists. Getting into this group is, statistically speaking, tougher than getting into Harvard. Staying on it is tougher still: It requires not only an absence of valid reader complaints but also ongoing positive assessments from readers.
Here’s the article (.pdf).
Some readers will know Cranky Flier, he is on the list for the second time for his irregular operations assistance, I think it’s a fantastic service to offer help to folks whose travels are disrupted, an expert can do a whole lot more for you than being at the mercy of the vagaries of the agents in the customer service lines.
A travel specialist isn’t for every trip, but there’s a huge difference between booking a tour online and booking one through an expert. I sat on a panel of Conde’ Nast specialists two years ago in Las Vegas, alongside a China specialist who really can make things happen there. I wasn’t going to be her client, I’m a do-it-yourselfer and I use points rather than paying for top-shelf accommodations. But she was able to put me to someone on the ground who could deliver outstanding guided tours.
And for the very best folks in their fields, it would be hard to do better than find one on this list.