It used to be a few pre-determined questions, several brochures, than the usual handshake plus a check would procure one a travel vacation. Planning it necessitated a quick lower main street on the local tour operator’s office, or at worst, a phone call to this type of place and person. Now, the physical vacation specialists are relics of history, fragments of our collective memory. In their place, the virtual storefront, the OTA, the web local travel agent has taken hold. And that online local travel agency, is us.
How a lot of us have spent minutes or hours (and collectively, days) comparing rates and procuring vacations online? Sadly, there was once a complete industry devoted to this task- the area local travel agency who sit behind their ‘state from the art’ green screen computer and hack incessantly in a loud keyboard to create a printed itinerary for people that seemed like black magic wonderful its special code numbers and symbols.
Forecasted for 2012, you will have over 117 million people researching their travel online, craigs list 98 million of which actually booking online. And that’s just the start.
The travel industry is one with the few firms that the internet, and new technology, has completely changed from the start. What was once an incredibly tedious task-comparing rates from several different properties in any given area (significantly less, different geographic areas…) has become as effortless since the simple click of a mouse. So many comparison tech websites arose, that comparison-comparison sites are born; sites that compare the websites that compare. Now it is likely that a 5 yr old will find the cheapest 4 star make use of lodge at in Puerto Vallarta to the weekend of June 15th, 2013. And that same 5 year, if given a credit card number, can certainly book the trip. How does this make the old tour operator feel, (should they be) still holed up of their storefront on main street with sun faded pictures of Waikiki of their windows?
With internet travel reservations representing almost another of worldwide volume with this December, it is no surprise that people old travel agents that haven’t hopped around the technology train will be left sitting at the station. How were they adapted?
Most have acquired virtual storefronts, trading in their main street local digs for the virtual store. This affords them a much bigger audience, and gives them a spot where they can still share their travel knowledge expertise. Others have joined online travel agencies or OTA shops.
No it’s possible to fully predict what are the future holds to the hospitality industry, but one thing is for certain, we will all continue to hold our secondary jobs of travel specialists provided that the world wide web, and new technology, continues to evolve.