You can’t Google this: Why travel agents beat booking on the Web
Friday, October 17, 2014
"Oh, I like to do everything online when it comes to booking my travel."
"My assistant takes care of all of my travel arrangements."
"I can get the same perks through American Express as you can get me."
OK, enough of that. Can we talk? We savvy travel agents know so much more than Mr. Google knows. Let's begin with five things we know for sure, so as not to get too full of ourselves:
1. We add value
We will add more value to our clients' travels than they could ever get by booking their own travel. Online, they're just a number, no face. There's no "I don't do steps" box to check, no "my favorite welcoming bouquet is" to check, and forget about a "no salt, garlic or MSG in any of my meals" option.
So there's that, for starters. We know all these particulars, and we will take the time to make sure all those we're working with get that info to create a seamless travel experience for them.
Honestly, I'm sure travelers have good intentions to "tweak" their travel, but do they really have the time to do so? Are they always so organized that they know the best time to contact a hotel for an upgrade or gift their significant other with a perfect welcome gift or surprise the kids with a hotel mascot/pet to play with at the hotel they're staying at?
I'm not buying it. Those good intentions, sadly, often remain just that, good intentions.
2. We are experts
Travelers who want to get the most value from their travel piggy bank need an expert to book their travel.
Would they go to a walk-in clinic to get a facelift? Would they go to a random car lot to buy an expensive car? Not likely. So why would they go to the Internet to book their precious time spent with family and friends?
As we know, experts become experts because they practice their skills over and over again — as we do.
3. We have connections
"Itchy-finger Internetters" — affectionately coined — are rarely welcomed like our clients are.
The last private guide I booked in Paris for my VIPs met them in a beautiful Mercedes-Benz to transfer them privately to their hotel. Fresh roses were within, as well as a bottle of Cristal — their favorite champagne. Now that's being welcomed, feeling appreciated and feeling special.
Let's face it. A big part of fabulous travel is how it makes us feel.
4. We are passionate
The Internet is not quite as passionate as we are. Ask your clients if their PC ever mentioned being excited about the extraordinary tour guide it just arranged for them, or if their email has ever held a message from Compuserve with the most recent fab bar experience in New York while they're in NYC.
Ask them if they ever received an email noting a "complimentary" upgrade from the Gritti Palace in Venice to the highest category in the hotel, or the same on their cruise. I bet you'll get "no reply."
5. We add a personal touch
The Internet will not rebook the handiwork of those "expert online bookers" during an airline strike or a natural disaster.
Nor will it call them to tell them their flight's been canceled, and that they don't have to drive two hours from their home to the airport only to then wait in line for hours until they are rebooked for the next available flight the following evening — which has a connection that will leave them sitting in an airport for 10 hours before their next flight takes off. True story.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Without a doubt travel agents and our highly valued travel partners do a much better job collectively booking our clients' travel then they could ever do online.
And so, I leave you with a bit of ammunition to use when speaking to past, present or future clients when it comes to being the expert at arranging their travel. In short, if they don't employ our services, they are simply not traveling conveniently, safely, smartly — and certainly not glamorously. Let's keep our priorities in place.
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