Why do You Need a Travel Advisor?
Countdown to your next vacations. You have been working hard. You deserve it. Time to book. And you see yourself overwhelmed by the amount of options, information, "great" offers, an ocean of apps to book from your mobile, etc. More: you find tons of tours and sightseeing and activities to explore. How to move forward making the best decisions?
Why Do You Need a Travel Advisor?
By Lucas Compan, a story-traveler
That's maybe that moment when you realize that more is less. Same thing happens with your day-to-day decisions. Whether you are buying a pair of jeans, olive oil, groceries, selecting long-distance carrier, picking up your tours and activities to do at your destination, you know, everyday decisions – from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs (as your vacations) – have become increasingly complex due to overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.
Beware of choice overload: it can make you question decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistic high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures.
In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains why too much of a good thing has proven detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. Synthesizing current research in the social sciences, he makes the counterintuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. To watch Barry Schwartz talking about this topic in a TED talk, click here (Subtitles available in 44 languages).
Well, you don't need that, right? Who wants stress and anxiety when booking their next vacations?
Using a travel agent to help book a vacation and all activities is the easiest way to cut through the congestion of online options. To support this evidence we did some research.
According to a report from Akron Legal News, "Over the past several years there's been a significant increase in the number of people booking travel online, and it has certainly impacted our industry," said Susan Heitkamp, an experienced travel advisor from Columbus, Ohio. She also says that "Interesting enough, though, we're beginning to see a number of people coming back to brick and mortar agencies. The industry has seen an increase in traffic as clients and prospects realize the value in having a professional booking the trip for them.
In short, travelers are looking for a more personal and honest relationship with a travel advisor, as opposed to just interacting with a computer and reading online reviews. People want to use the knowledge and expertise of an agent to help them maximize their trips, something many websites just can't offer.
That's the philosophy behind Laura Demarco's business, co-founder of The Welcome Hub (TWH), a travel agency that creates travel experiences, tours and activities in 12 destinations, both in the USA and in Europe. Although her company is online since 2000, people at TWH believe that personalization is the future of travel.
You want to be a traveler, not a travel agent
How do they do that? Listening to what their customers and users have to tell, learning from their stories, absorbing their travel experiences, understanding what they want.
Laura also agrees that travelers are overwhelmed with the amount of options available. And she also believes that it would be a big mistake to deny what the digital world means to her business. "It's about creating balance. If we turn our backs to digital, that would be a big mistake. However, if we try to hide ourselves behind a computer screen, and forget what the person on the other end of it has to tell us, that would be an even bigger mistake," ponders Laura.
Another reason behind the recent increase in travelers using agents to help them book their vacations is the fact that more people are hitting the road right now. With a healthy economy and the value of the American dollar strong internationally, the travel industry is thriving once again. Also, people may have been delaying bigger trips and didn't want to wait any longer. Overall the travel industry had a very good year. Sales are definitely up.
Other significant trends are the rise of multi-generational trips and milestone trips. Milestone trips may include an extended family traveling to celebrate a significant wedding anniversary, a couple or family traveling to celebrate a graduation. Also, there's an increasing of gay and lesbians couples planning destination weddings and honeymoons.
These are some results of the Travel Leader Group’s 2016 Travel Trends Survey.
The survey was conducted from November 17, 2015 through December 8, 2015, gathering responses and data on already booked trips for 2016 from 1,316 U.S. based travel agency owners, managers, and agents.
These thoughts about the balance between digital and human interactions can be seen in Amazon's to open its first brick-and-mortar store in Seattle. It is an interesting new departure for Amazon, but it also offers us the chance of some enlightenment on some of the larger questions of business, in both online and physical worlds.
Alastair Dryburgh thinks that algorithms could perfectly work in partnership with humans. He is a writer and Forbes magazine's contributor, and he is excited about this discussion. "This is a development to watch very, very closely. The experiment will shed new light on the questions of humans vs. machines and virtual vs. real-world. And what bigger questions are there at the moment?", says Dryburgh.
I personally found that the likelihood of using a travel agent increases in direct proportion to the abundance and complexity of travel options you can find on the internet. Many travelers are discovering the following:
- In offering more options and amenities, online travel sites have actually made it more confusing to figure out what they are selling, not less so;
- The explosion of restrictions and fees – many of which are not obvious to the casual travel buyer – further muddies understanding of the bottom line on any itinerary;
- The big online travel sites got too smart for their own good; by tidying up and repackaging all the data each according to their own assumptions about travel purchasing, they show us what they think we want to see. But not always what we really want to see.
It has gotten to the point that many travelers truly dread the moment they have to sit down at the computer to research travel. Seems like a good time to get in touch with a pro, don't you think?
If this describes you, or even just your next trip, ASTA – American Society of Travel Agents has If this describes you, or even just your next trip, ASTA – American Society of Travel Agents has an excellent list with 101 reasons why you should develop a relationship with a travel agent. Click here to access it.
If when you have to book your next vacation or trip – as well as things to do at the destination – you have that same feeling when you have to pick a box of cereal, just relax and follow what Barry Schwartz have to teach us: "Today's world offers us more choices but, ironically, less satisfaction. Let's take some steps toward a more rewarding life."
Remember that next time booking your vacations, and trust your well deserved relaxing time to a good travel agency. Vacation does not mean stress at all. It is the time of the year to enjoy 100% fun and reenergization.