Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Internet Effect

A couple of days after my travel agent encounter, I was listening to a Planet Money podcast about the effect the internet has had on the music industry. This is a fairly well-known argument - especially for my musician friends. The ease of sharing music (legally and illegally) has cut into the bottom line of many musician's paychecks. The podcast made me think that I meant to share the last part of my conversation with the two travel agent's we met on Monday.

It may seem like an obvious question, but I asked them what the effect internet booking had had on the travel agent industry in general. Their response was that it had hit them pretty hard. The ease of research, booking options and the fact that people like me didn't know that I could use their services for free, have not added up to a win for travel agents across the globe. The fact that I know many former travel agents should have been my first clue, I guess. But, I still drive by travel agencies on my way around town, so I figured I might be missing something, maybe I had it all wrong, hence my experiment.

The thing that gets lost is the human interaction of course, or worse you're relegated to calling customer service numbers to fix problems or you just get annoying rescheduled-your-trip-just-thought-you'd-like-to-know emails popping up in your inbox. It's kind of nice to have someone that takes care of that layer for you or at least explains in layman's terms what's going on with your reservations. And it's nice to just talk to people in general, especially when they have knowledge they are willing to share with you.

I am not anti-internet, obviously, as there are millions of benefits, but there are some things that are going away that might be sad to lose for good. Just sayin', it's just not the same to Skype your best friend for coffee. Thanks for checking in!

3 comments:

  1. agreed. i'm interested to see how well applications like ohsowe.com can bring people together in the real world.

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  2. Very cool, I hadn't heard of them - I read a book about collaborative consumption recently - sounds like this site.

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  3. My friend Phaedra is a former travel agent! I still maintain that booking with a travel agent for any kind of fancy vacation is the way to go! I remember going on our honeymoon secure in the thought that if anything went wrong, I had someone willing to go to bat for me. Case in point, we ran into a couple who had booked everything themselves online, and they were at a loss for what to do at the airport to get transportation to their resort. They just stood there with their internet printout wondering what to do.

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