Travel + Leisure reveals its latest ‘A List’ of travel advisors

More than 150 frontline sellers worldwide earn top kudos

Travel + Leisure has named its 2023 ‘A-List’ of what it deems as the “Top Travel Advisors” from around the globe.

Overseen by a Travel Advisory Board (TAB) of 27 members, more than 150 travel specialists worldwide (including those in the TAB) were included in the field, falling within nine specific regions in which they are focused. Those regions (and the number per region) are:

  • US, Canada, Caribbean (10);
  • Central America, Mexico, South America (14)
  • Europe (37)
  • Asia (13)
  • Africa & Safaris (23)
  • Egypt and the Middle East (8)
  • Australia, New Zealand the South Pacific (9)
  • Cruise (6)
  • Special Interests (35)

The ‘Special Interests’ category is quite diverse, with dedicated experts for celebration, weddings, events, family travel, business travel, LGBTQ, food & wine, polar, wildlife, yacht charters, air travel, cultural, entertainment, sports, private, ski, ‘over the top’ trips and more.

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This year there were eight Travel + Leisure ‘A-List’ travel advisors who are specialists on Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Among them are:

  • Cassandra Bookholder from Camelback Odyssey Travel in Southern California. The Virtuoso member has 17 years experience as an Australia and New Zealand Specialist. Her clients average daily spend is between $500-$1,000. She charges a planning fee of $175.
  • Drew Kluska from The Tailor who is listed as the only dedicated Australia Specialist by Travel + Leisure. His clients’ average daily spend is $1,000 per person. Kluska offers a 1 hour free consultation for his clients, and requests a commitment deposit of a minimum US$500 per person, that is fully deductible from the total trip price.
  • Suzy Merien-Ferol, the Co-Founder of Touring Treasures is an Australia and New Zealand Specialist, who will celebrate 20 years in the field in 2023. She is based in Queensland and her clients’ average daily spend is $2,500 per couple. Merien-Ferol has a $250 trip planning service fee, that can be applied to the client’s trip cost.
  • Raised in Young, NSW and now Chicago-based, Corinne Goodman is the founder of Down Under Endeavours which she established in 1998. She is an Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Specialist. The average daily spend of Goodman’s clients is $1,000 each and her trip planning service charge is $350 per person.
  • Christina Turrini from Frosch in the US is a Tahiti-guru, hence her title as French Polynesia Specialist on the ‘A List’. Turrini’s clients average daily spend is $500 per person and she has a trip planning levy of $250.
  • Jean-Michel Jefferson of Ahipara has more than 20 years experience planning meaningful travel through the ‘Land of the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’. The New Zealand Specialist is also well-versed in the Cook Islands and Spiritual Travel. Jefferson’s trip planning fee is 7.5% of the trip total, and his clients spend an average of $1,000 per person per day.
  • Pennyslvania’s Donna Thomas, New Zealand Specialist proudly declares herself as “16 years as Travel + Leisure Magazine Top Travel Expert for New Zealand and Australia” on her website, aptly named New Zealand Travel. Thomas doesn’t charge a planning fee and her clients’ average daily spend is $300 pp.
  • Fellow South Pacific Specialist, Susanne Hamer, has over two decades of expertise selling French Polynesia, and also specialises in the Maldives, Seychelles and Bali.  On average, her clients spend around $500 per person a day. She charges a modest $150 per person trip planning fee.
  • and Sarah Farag of Southern Crossings, once again has been recognised as an ‘A List’ New Zealand and South Pacific Specialist in 2023. The Auckland-based Virtuoso member has never once suggested the same itinerary twice in her 35-year career, and is a pro on Australia as well. Farag’s clients have an average spend of $750 per day and her trip planning levy is $350.

Among the ‘A-List’ are several duos, be it husband and wife combinations or mother and son travel whizzes.

Interestingly, there are just six ‘A-List’ cruise specialists, all of whom are located in the United States, including US travel and cruise industry doyenne, Valerie Wilson of her namesake, Valerie Wilson Travel.

View the full list of Travel + Leisure‘s 21st annual ‘A-List’ here.

Travel advisors wanting to be considered for the list next year can email Samantha Falewee and Liz Cantrell to request an application.

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