Travel Agents Add Value and lower costs to Hawaii
In a recent article in the New York Times* the reporter, Michelle Higgins, gives a great example of excellent service through a travel agency. "The complimentary wine and fruit platter was sent up to Jessica Griffin and her family moments after they strolled into their roomy suite. They were accompanied by a bellhop who placed their bags near a tidy crib made up with luxurious, high thread-count sheets for Ms. Griffin’s 1-year-old daughter. The V.I.P. treatment at the Cheeca Lodge and Spa in the Florida Keys last month hadn’t come with an extra cost. In fact, Ms. Griffin said, she paid about $100 a night less than the standard rate for her room."
Ms Higgins shares a great test done by her colleague at work that demostrated that even for budget travelers, the overall experience with a travel agent can offer better value. In a recent test of agents versus online search engines. Agents won “nearly every time,” he wrote, “on both price and service. Good agents know their destinations and can present all the options and give excellent suggestions and alternatives that save money and time... and the caller is having a human interaction - not trying to "talk" to a computer.
Her point was also that the deals travelers get from agencies do not have to involve many hours of "tedious online research." The traveler got those savings and all the extras by using her travel agency to do the work. In the article, the traveler is quoted as saying, “I needed recommendations and someone to steer me in the right direction.”
Many travelers are becoming frustrated and confused by all the websites essentially offering the same product. In the article the traveler is quoted as saying “There are so many... It can be overwhelming. I wanted somebody from a reputable agency who could say yes, you’ll enjoy this stay."
Ms Higgins goes on to point out that an improving economy is combining with travelers who understand researching and booking travel online can be excessively time-consuming and not as reqarding as using a reputable travel agency.
An interesting set of statistics were developed by Steve Peterson, the global travel and transportation leader for the I.B.M. Institute for Business Value, when he tried to discover how time consuming using online booking was. He surveyed more than 2,000 travelers and discovered that 20 percent said it took them more than five hours to search and book travel online. Mr. Peterson pointed out it might involve the drawbacks of the Web. “It’s come to a point that it’s too much information to be confident that they have the ability to book the lowest fare,” or uncover the best place to stay."
To find all the information that is critical and pertinent to their vacation, travelers have to surf through many sites, find all the alernatives and then make decisions. Even then they are not sure they got all of the information correctly and if one key piece is missing it will ruin their trip.
*Quotes from article by Michelle Higgins, New York Times, N.Y., 2012
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