As Asia Transpacific Journey celebrates 30 years in coordinating custom tours, we sat down with two co-owners about how technology can’t ever replace a personal touch.
Due to increasing technology, world travel is more accessible now than ever. With the touch of a button, you can book flights to Thailand and Vietnam in less than ten minutes time. But booking strictly through technology, you can miss some personal touches.
Asia Transpacific Journeys (ATJ) goes the extra mile. Based out of Boulder, Colorado, ATJ has served as an expert, personalized travel resource for 30 years now, specializing in custom and small group travel to Asia and the Pacific. The three co-owners, Eric Kareus, Donna Galland and Kirsten Louy-Nasty, all had been part of the ATJ staff for years and then transitioned to co-owners. With their different backgrounds and skills to offer, Galland describes the trio as a “perfect, three-legged stool.”
We talked with Galland and Louy-Nasty about their time with ATJ, how they keep up with technological advancement and why travel excites them.
What draws you to travel?
Louy-Nasty: I love people, communicating, connecting. I love sharing a smile, whether it’s here in the office or on the road in Asia. Today especially, we have so many boxes around us with technology, news and worries. Connecting with people grounds us. I love understanding that humans all over the world are so similar. I like to connect with women and children…sharing tea with a mom and knowing her day is as crazy as mine.
Galland: A lot of the cultures we visit are simple, and it brings us back to the basics. [While traveling I’ve] seen a mother with rice and a little bit of tea and she was still smiling. It was humbling, and it blows my mind. It’s what keeps me coming back.
What do you find important about providing more personalized experiences for travelers?
Louy-Nasty: We have so much information at our fingertips and with all those wonderful tools, [strictly booking online] would probably be fine. [The ATJ staff] offers years and years of experience, knowledge, passion and understanding…nuances you wouldn’t get online. For example, yes, you need to see the Taj Mahal. But how you do it and how we do it for you is different than online. With a private guide or driver [ATJ arranges for you to] buy a chai, arrive before sunrise, then meet the chai business person and have interactions with them, enter the site from a unique angle and with your personal guide, explore the site privately.
With rapidly increasing technology, how do you think you’ve remained in demand?
Louy-Nasty: We are all growing with technology, so we use it. But nothing beats a human being on the other end of a phone call or email. We provide 24/7 emergency support to our travelers because things can and do go wrong. [Technology is] evolving and growing and we enjoy all the bells and whistles that come with it. It has made the world smaller and more efficient. But what is different [about ATJ’s services is] the human on the other end of the call.
Galland: We do also have clients that aren’t as computer savvy and don’t want to be involved with [technology]. So, we can accommodate those travelers as well.