Leaders in Luxury

Each year, Travel Agent and its sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, honor a group of exemplary individuals who are innovative and dedicated to the art of delivering good luxury service with its Leaders in Luxury awards. These folks can typically be seen at every industry event related to their industry sector; they’re either flying in or flying out to be with their peers and colleagues to share their knowledge and experience, or simply enjoy a memorable occasion.

The 2009 Leaders in Luxury awards will be presented to individuals who display superior leadership in four categories—Hotel, Cruise, Tour Operator and Retail Travel—during Luxury Travel Expo at a ceremony to be held on December 3. More than 5,000 travel industry professionals are expected to attend the Las Vegas event.

This year, the editors of Travel Agent and Luxury Travel Advisor have actually selected five individuals; there is an additional person in our portfolio of leaders in 2009 because, in the retail travel sector, Andy and Elaine Pesky come as a well-matched set.

The Peskys, married for 46 years, bring real expertise to New York City-based Protravel International, a world-class competitor in corporate and leisure travel sales. Andy serves as Protravel’s senior vice president marketing and sales, while Elaine is a senior account executive and a frontline agent in the delivery of client services.

In the Cruise category, Crystal Cruises’ Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bill Smith is being recognized for nearly 40 years’ worth of service to the industry. Just how much longer is he going to continue? His answer: “As long as I enjoy it.”

With a focus on respect and reverence for nature’s beauty, Lindblad Expeditions has spent decades working for local conservation, raising more than $7 million with its guests in the last 10 years alone. No johnny-come-lately to environmental awareness, Founder and President Sven Lindblad is a formidable pick as Tour Operator for this year’s Leaders in Luxury.

He describes his mission, as he sees it: “Personally, I believe that responsible tourism should cause little to no damage and act to restore and/or preserve at the other end of the spectrum.”

As the honoree in the Hotel category, Vikram Oberoi was quite literally born to the luxury travel industry as the scion of a legendary Indian hospitality family. Today, he is the joint managing director of EIH Limited, the flagship company of The Oberoi Group, India’s second-largest hotel company (which was founded by his grandfather).

The editorial staff of Travel Agent and Luxury Travel Advisor salutes these industry leaders and applauds their constant efforts to make the act of selling luxury travel not just an art but a necessity.

What is the common trait each of these individuals share? They care tremendously about their affluent clientele, and they are passionate about their dedication to the luxury travel sector.