Travel technology versus a Travel agent
I recently had a meeting with an online supplier who sold a booking tool that enabled corporate travelers to book their own travel and it made me think about online versus the traditional travel agency and the merits thereof for each.
Online travel technology is certainly the way things are going. People are booking online themselves because it cuts out the middleman, potentially makes the trip cheaper and puts you in control of your own arrangements. This is fantastic but what happens when you get to the airport and the flight is overbooked? You make a call to the call center, but no one is available because it is 12 midnight and to top it all off, no one bothered to tell you about any government regulations such as birth certificates for the kids or a visa for the country you are about to visit.
A good travel agent however would have advised you prior to your trip on all regulations and visa requirements. They would be available 24/7 and above all booked you on the right flight with the appropriate accommodation. Yes, you do pay a small fee for this but think about the time and energy you save when you could rather be focused on the things that matter such as making enough money to afford the holiday or business trip!
As I watched the demo, it illustrated the number of human interventions necessary to make it all work and which might possibly still make it easier to do with an actual travel agent instead of trying to hammer it out yourself with a minimal cost saving. Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a place for self-booking tool where you are booking government agencies or multi-national companies but for targeting SME’s such as our company does, I hesitate to quickly write off the benefits of a travel agent versus trying to book it yourself.
I’ll often phone a bank and get put through to one number after another when all you want to do is speak to a physical person because you know you will then be able to rectify the matter so much quicker. I realise the world is moving fast towards AI and BOTS, but we are social animals, we thrive on relationships so despite the naysayers of travel agencies saying they will be irrelevant in however many years, I believe that there will always be space for one.
Recent research in the USA has already confirmed this and it makes sense. There is a whole heap of information online now, but which is the best option? A Travel agency can help you make that informative choice. They can champion your case every step of the way and be there by your side in order to make sure you get to that meeting on time or reach that dream destination you have been saving a life time for.
Giles first opened up Checkout Travel (Club Travel Fourways in those days) over 15 years ago. He is passionate about researching new technologies whether it be in the digital marketing space or actual travel platforms ensuring seamless quoting procedures for our travel creators – gone are the days of dusty hotel guides! Currently completing his MBA, this adventure junkie’s best travel memory thus far is trekking around South East Asia for 3 months.
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