Why a New Generation of Travel Agents Matters More Than Ever

Conde Nast Traveler
By Maxwell Williams
May 28, 2015

In the digital era, it’s easy to assume that travel agents have become passé. But that’s not the case—in fact, if you want personalized service and luxurious touches on your next trip, you’ll almost certainly want a travel specialist in your back pocket.

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Some would argue that the need for a travel specialist (FKA a travel agent) has diminished in the digital era. But travel websites that promise to narrow the world seem to do just the opposite. And although there’s an app for nearly everything, there are still some experiences only a human can make happen. Because while you may now know that you need to go off-roading through the Gobi Desert, we’ll bet you still don’t know who in Ulaanbaatar rents the most reliable ATVs. Think of today’s finest specialists more as CIA operatives: They’ll pull off the impossible, plan a better trip than you ever could (really), and spare you the logistics. Put simply, they’ll nail it and you’ll have a better vacation because of them. Consider these firsthand accounts as proof.

CASE STUDY 1: THE SPECIALIST AS UPGRADER

“We want to spend two weeks in India…and there are 32 of us.”

Kapil Nanda, president and CEO of Infogain, a Silicon Valley high-tech company, called on Bertie and Victoria Dyer at India Beat to coordinate his epic homecoming to India.

“I’m from Delhi, and over the years a group of my friends had expressed an interest in going to India. In all, there were 32 of us—and there was no way I was going to organize that myself. Instead, I turned the planning of a two-week, six-city itinerary over to Bertie and Victoria Dyer. They helped us charter planes from Delhi to Jaisalmer to Udaipur to Delhi— we went to a lot of places that many people can’t get to because the logistics are so tricky. Jaisalmer, for example, is a town in the high desert near the Pakistan border.

“Its only airport is within an Indian Air Force base, so Bertie and Victoria had to make quite an effort to get permission from the defense minister for a private plane to land there. As we were sitting in our plane, ready to taxi, we watched the fighter planes buzz by in a sort of impromptu air show. There, we stayed at a spa/luxury camp called The Serai. All the rooms are beautiful tents—it’s the height of opulence—and in the evenings we’d eat around a campfire. One night, Bertie and Victoria arranged a private fireworks show. In Delhi, we ate at Le Cirque, on the roof of the Leela Palace ho- tel. All the menus were customized, and we often took over the whole restaurant. In some cases, we even took over the whole hotel. In Ranthambore, the tiger reserve, we stayed at the Oberoi Vanyavilas and went on a tiger-spotting safari. We were a fairly discerning group—there were CEOs of high-tech companies and a retired California Supreme Court justice among us—but back home, pretty much everyone agreed: It was truly the experience of a lifetime.”
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