In this new world, where a border can close just as suddenly as it was reopened, a travel fixer’s nimble skill set is especially essential. In the early months of the pandemic, Alice Daunt of Daunt Travel leveraged a longstanding relationship with an Indian Ocean resort to hold—not book—rooms for clients of hers, a family that was wary of putting money down too far in advance of their Christmas vacation; now they can reassess in October. “Because of our relationships with suppliers, we’ve been able to push for more flexibility for future bookings,” says Ashley Gerrand, a safari expert with Go2Africa.
For those whose trips have been bumped a year, the agency has succeeded in getting suppliers to honor 2020 rates and to allow clients to make changes at little to zero cost. “Travelers may not get that when they’re booking directly,” Gerrand adds. Specialists are also vetting services, from guides to drivers to accommodations, more carefully than ever; engaging in near-constant communication with partners to ensure protocols are being met; and conducting road tests under our current novel conditions themselves, or deputizing employees to do so. “We’re in close contact with hoteliers daily and making sure that we know how they’re handling things,” says Andrea Grisdale, of Italian Connection Bellagio. It’s the type of personal service you expect, reborn for the times.
This article appeared in the October 2020 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.