Crappy travel agent

I had the dubious pleasure of meeting possibly the worst travel agent ever recently.

They made me feel stupid. I came with information. I knew what I wanted to do, the sorts of place I wanted to be at, and my budget. None of this seemed to be useful as all they wanted to know was the specific geographical location. And when I (not them) listed some possible options, they responded with a string of negatives. “No availability”, “no bookings left”, “too late”. Not only did they failed to sell, they actually made me feel bad I had not already chosen a place.

They did not help me choose. Given the sheer choice of destinations, I was hoping for their expertise, knowledge and guidance to help me pick the most appropriate place. No joy. All they did was tell me emphatically that Bali was the only available option, and proceeded to manually write down a long list of meaningless hotel names.

They demonstrated zero knowledge or expertise. I asked them to tell me more about each hotel on the list, and whether they could make any recommendations. The look was clearly “don’t waste our time”, followed by the very useful comment that “oh, they are all good. But the more expensive ones are better.” They actually looked relieved when I said “I will go and look these up online.” It was up to me to make them feel better about their incompetence!

They did not even have brochures; the reason being “oh there are so many we have no room to stock them”. Yet another excuse for incompetence.

Just prior to leaving, I asked them “Do you just sell cheap tickets or do you actually help people plan holidays?” They responded to the latter. “Oh no, we are not just about booking cheap flights.” Fail. Fail. Fail.

The barrier of (my) exit was very low. These people clearly offered no value to me.
So I waded through the Internet and made my own bookings. I had a good time, and saved myself several hundred dollars in the process. I would gladly have paid more to have a human guide and ease me through the process, had I had the opportunity to.

In a commodity industry like this, an industry that is already suffering from information overload and the Internet, surely they cannot afford to be so useless or complacent? The opportunity is clearly here to revolutionise the travel industry.

4 comments

  1. Stephen Collins said:

    It’s for this reason I have abandoned travel agents on favor of the web. Once again, a previously important role (as coordinating all the parts of your travel was pretty tough if you weren’t an expert and didn’t have access to appropriate systems) has been made redundant by clever technology implementations coupled with great communities.

    I use TripIt and Dopplr to keep me and others informed of my travel plans. I am near-reliant of TripAdvisor for great, real user reviews and information about destinations, things to do and places to stay. And Kayak, WebJet and Mobissimo always find me the lowest fares.

  2. Zern said:

    Spot on Stephen. I am booking everything myself from now on.

  3. Scott Williams said:

    Hi Stephen, it doesn’t just stop at travel agents, there are shonky real estate operators via the web as well, we travelled to mid north coast of NSW Australia through Inspiration Real Estate, well it wasn’t too inspiring, location was a pig stye, filthy carpets, bedding, furniture and bugs galore. if your after a creepy crawly experience then this real estate office is the one for you. Obviously they will offer you full denial of the state of the property that they manage, turning the blame onto the unsuspecting lease. Please feel free to contact me for pictures of this run down property. Why didn’t you contact us during the Christmas and new year period, we could sort out your issue even though we weren’t even open for you to pick up your keys to the lodgement, during the busiest week in the summer holiday calendar. Beware unsuspecting travellers there are some greedy real estate operators and lease holders out there. Willing to have you pay top dollar for a shitty holiday house within a wonderful coastal town.

  4. GOODLINX: bloggers turn to print; marketers missing out with classified sites, how to win an SEO war, secrets of successful blogging « mUmBRELLA said:

    [...] travel agents are making themselves extinct by getting the consumer experience wrong: “In a commodity industry like this, an industry that is already suffering from information [...]

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