These days I seem to be reading article after article about wonderful agents with contacts all over the world who can arrange special things for their clients. Much fanfare surrounds being able to call hotel management. Red carpets are rolled out for those who know local guides. They are credited with leading the resurgence of the travel agent.
They do exist - I know a few of them. Some of them - not many - come and spend a week every few years in New Zealand to refresh their knowledge. That's what we do for them. We spend most of every year in New Zealand; we call hotel managers and owners personal friends; we were responsible for getting the guides to agree to work with high end clients in the first place. When people ask us to expand beyond New Zealand, we shake our heads politely and say there is more than enough to keep us busy here and we feel we still don't know the place well enough. What are we? DMCs. Destination Management Companies.
There are a few here in New Zealand, with different areas of strength. (our particular area is experiential travel, which we have specialised in for over 10 years). There are others, spread throughout the world.
The Outbound Agent will of course have detailed knowledge of those places that they use regularly. But of course any thinking person can see that they are unlikely to have a detailed grasp of every country or city in the world. They of course rely on us (DMCs) to do the work.
It is our responsibility to know our countries and also (as government bodies are beginning to understand) it is our responsibility to represent the leading edge of our countries overseas - winning business from other countries with our freshness, innovation and depth.
I have mentioned in the past (The Future of Travel) how these outbound agents work with us inbound agents (or Destination Management Companies). We are essential to each other. But not a lot happens without true on the ground expertise.