6 Reasons Why The Travel Agency Has Become Obsolete.
By: Valerie Hoyoak
We live in a world where the travel agency no longer plays the primary role in booking our vacation anymore. In 1990 there were over 34,000 travel agents in the US. In 2013 there were only 13,000. Truthfully, I don’t know when I actually saw a travel agency. I do know that I have not used one for years! I remember using them years ago, in the days where that was just how you booked your trip. There was no other option. Somewhere along the way, they became an extinct species. I don’t even know a travel agent!
I started thinking about where they went and more importantly – why they disappeared. Darwin may be right when he talked about the survival of the fittest. Some creatures – and possibly estate agents – are just not strong enough to survive. Dinosaurs probably became extinct because they could not adapt. You may have other reasons as to why we don’t see many travel agencies anymore, but these are some I came up with.
Aha! I can sit in front of my computer all evening and look up exciting places to visit, and dream of exotic holidays and plan my bucket list! I don’t need to go into any office and come out with a bag full of brochures on places I don’t even know, and I can look up hotels online and get all the information I need, right down to the temperatures in March and the clothes I should pack! Also, I can find out if they cater for vegetarians and have babysitters for the kids at night.
Every single question you ever need to ask about a hotel in Timbuktu you can ask online! This makes booking a trip so easy and hassle free. I don’t have to find a travel agent, show up in working hours before they close. If I am awake at 1am and want to check out my next trip, I can do it! The Internet is possibly the primary reason for the demise of the travel agency!
If the only free time you have to make your holiday plans are at breakfast, then that is where you can do it. Perhaps you only have free time at 9pm and need to confirm your flight? That’s okay, because you can! My laptop can come with me to the park where I can sit under the trees and plan my vacation. Having a computer means that you can work completely in your own time and in the comfort of your own home. However, having a laptop means that you can do your research anywhere there is an Internet connection! My laptop means I can research and book my dream trip from any café or coffee shop I like. No more sitting in a stuffy office while the sun is shining outside! The advent of laptops has certainly helped with the extinction process of the travel agency.
Savings and Discounts
The Internet makes it easy to compare prices. There is no need any more to accept the hotel that the travel agency has decided suits you. You can decide which hotel you want. You can do this by using one of many ‘compare’ sites out there online! Right down to booking flights! You get to compare flight companies; you choose which airport you want to fly into and where you want to fly. I use a ‘compare flights and airline’ site that gives me every option for flying from Murcia, Spain to the UK. It shows me every flight to any airport with just one click. I get to decide if I want to fly direct or stop over in Madrid. I can book my flight online, check in and print off my boarding pass without ever leaving my living room, and even hire a car through the site, if I need one.
If you search for ‘special deals’ on a travel destination you will find a list that gives you choices of every hotel, flight and even hire car service. Savings and discounts abound when you look online. Last minute offers can be booked from your sitting room, instead of having to get to the travel agent before they close and lose the offer.
Ever been into a shop and realized that you know more than the salesperson? With online research you will know more about your chosen destination that any travel agency, because you know the questions that you want answered better than anyone else. Let your fingers do the walking – all over your keyboard, and you will be more informed than any travel agency! Unfortunately for libraries, you don’t have to head there for a morning or research any more. It is a fact that there is so much information out there; you will always find what you are looking for. The Internet is not called the ‘Information Highway’ for nothing.
Travel Guides and Television Shows
Look up a destination you like and you can be certain that somewhere on the site you will be able to order a travel guide. I’ve seen them as either a physical one that comes to you in the post, or as a download that is delivered to your computer right away. The physical ones, such as Lonely Planet or Frommer’s, are nice to keep with you on your trip for quick references, although you could print off the download if you preferred. Travel shows on television? I love them! Brings out the adventure in most of us, no doubt about that. They are so informative! The great thing with these shows is that someone else has done all the work: finding the place, checking out the best hotels, and sampling the local food. All you have to do is book a trip! Always very well researched and filmed in the best way to reveal places you never knew existed!
You might see a show and decide to go somewhere you may never have thought of while sitting in a travel agency. You’ll find that you learn a huge amount about where you want to go from them. Let your adventurous side loose!
Not all travel agents are personable! They are only human, sometimes they have bad days and just want to go home and relax. Sometimes they want to be out in the sunshine instead of in an office. If you are the unfortunate person to arrive when a travel agent is in a bad mood, you might catch them on the wrong foot. Unfortunately, even travel agents make mistakes. Horrible to find that your luggage has not been added to your ticket, it’s Sunday and no way the travel agent can be reached. It may not be the pleasant experience you hoped it would be!
When you book anything online the only person responsible is: you. If you make a mistake, you have only yourself to blame so you will probably check and double-check everything. The Internet, thank god, never has bad moods, never gets tetchy or irritable with you even if you ask the same question five different ways! Go ahead, there’s nothing to fear about looking up the same things every day for a week! You won’t get ‘the look’ as you search for ‘holidays in Taiwan’ yet again! While I am sure that travel agents are mostly really nice people doing a complicated job, sometimes you just don’t want to ask that question again and again. Makes you look silly? Well, the Internet has no problem with you doing that! Ask away, any question, any time of day and any amount of times!
I am sure that there is a section of society that still wants a ’live travel agent’ to take care of booking their trip, and some people may even feel that they get better service with a real person, but I think on the whole the travel agent really is a dying breed. The days are over where we head to a travel agency on a Saturday because that’s the only time off you get. Must be early as it takes a while and there may be other people there, be prepared to wait and make small talk with someone we don’t know, in a stuffy office while the sun is shining outside.
And the list goes on! It’s a shame really, no one likes to think of things becoming extinct but I think we have to face the fact that the Internet has taken over this job. Booking a trip can be a stress free event that you can do over a cup of coffee, in your own home, out in the garden, at your own time and in your own pace. No pressure to buy right now unless you want to. I for one will probably never darken the doors of a travel agency again – even if I could find one! All things considered, I think it’s a great alternative way to book a vacation.