2023 Top Travel Specialist

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Condé Nast Traveler
March 14, 2023

Congratulations to AdventureSmith Founder and President, Todd Smith, on being named on Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialists List for 2023. This marks the 10th occasion Todd has been acknowledged by Condé Nast Traveler as a travel expert in cruising, during AdventureSmith’s 20th year in business, so it’s an extra special recognition for our entire team of travel experts. Excerpts from the April 2023 edition of the magazine & online Condé Nast profile of Todd Smith follow:

AdventureSmith Explorations founder Todd Smith poses in a grey AdventureSmith hat in front of a sea of Arctic ice, with the Conde Nast Traveler April cover over the image

“Good travel advisers slow you down by getting you deeper into a place and its culture. A few of our favorites offer itineraries inspired by the stories on the following pages. Find the complete list of 2023 Condé Nast Traveler Top Specialists at cntraveler.com/travel-specialists/. They’ll pull off the impossible and spare you the logistics.”


Regions of operation: Generalist
Countries of expertise: Antarctica, Alaska, Galápagos Islands
Special categories: Expedition Cruises, Small Ship Cruises

What kind of traveler absolutely loves your trips?

The AdventureSmith traveler seeks active, authentic experiences in exotic, hard-to-reach destinations around the globe. They want to experience nature and wildlife up close and away from tourist crowds. They appreciate the service of a great guide and seek to create connections between their interests and the meanings of a destination. They are concerned about our environment and prefer that their lifestyle and travel choices be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

“Our travelers prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than possessions.”

What do you do that competing specialists can’t/won’t:

Longevity has its benefits and I have worked in expedition cruising my entire life. I started as a naturalist guide aboard some of the first expedition cruises in the 1990’s. I hired and trained hundreds of guides working on dozens of expedition ships. I worked with captains and marketing VP’s to develop itineraries and new cruise products. I have cruised aboard nearly 100 small ships personally and inspected dozens more. I have worked with and learned from pioneers of the ecotourism movement. I have appeared on televisions shows, spoken at travel conferences, participated in industry panels and most importantly worked with thousands of clients. I founded and manage a company internationally recognized as experts in expedition cruising. This lifetime of experience is what sets me apart and is invaluable to my clients.

What is one of your all-time favorite experiences you’ve been able to pull off for guests?

One of my all-time favorite experiences I arranged for clients was a Galapagos charter cruise for 36 people. This private charter and custom land trip allowed me to combine my intimate destination knowledge with personalized service to exceed customer expectations. I worked for months with this group to select the perfect ship that would appeal to a large diversity of tastes and budgets, yet would be affordable enough for all the invited families to join. I was able to negotiate a charter rate that ended up being about 25% less than booking individual cabins. I added a number of special touches that are not available on standard cruises: I arranged a pre-cruise welcome dinner in which the hotel’s Executive Chef and his staff provided a hands-on demonstration on how to prepare a menu of shrimp ceviche, fried green plantains with fresh cheese and peanut salt, and beef in achiote rub with corn cakes. I also arranged for a special tour of the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center led by local students from Ecology Project International, creating authentic connections between kids on the trip and the local community. Adults enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour and talk from Sven Lorenz, director of the Charles Darwin Foundation. Finally, we enhanced a typical tour of San Cristobal with a “playdate” with the local kids of Canon Point Club in conjunction with our nonprofit partners at Children of the Galapagos. Travelers and locals spent the afternoon biking, skateboarding and making friends at their waterfront clubhouse.

Do you think the events of recent years have permanently changed the role of the specialist/agent? Any forever pivots that you’ve made?

Yes, more than ever having a travel specialist in your corner is a crucial hedge against the constantly shifting travel landscape. My clients are without exception better informed, better prepared, and better protected than independent bookers – all at no extra cost to them. Just this week, UnCruise Adventures made a radical change to their embarkation requirements (no more vaccination requirement), and I have just confirmed that they WILL NOT be informing passengers who booked directly. I on the other hand am notifying and preparing clients out into 2024, so that they have a clear picture of what they need to do to prepare. Working to solve complex travel challenges has always been at the core of my business.

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