Technology has been a boon to the travel industry, allowing companies to automate their booking transactions with fewer humans (and paychecks) involved, ultimately lowering costs and increasing bottom lines.
Automation has not been the best for travelers however because the savings rarely get passed on to them. Consumers are also more likely to be subject to the hidden “costs” of booking with an automated system, and the longer or more complicated the trip, the more likely a person is to incur them. We’ve listed some of these costs below.
Booking travel with a live agent you have the ability to get better airlines, a wider variety of choices, and an assistant who works for you, effectively sidestepping any of the pitfalls of automation.
When you book a trip using an online booking engine or automated service you will never get any of the following services, available every day from an AirTreks personal travel consultant:
Access to discount airlines
Because it costs low-cost airlines a lot of money to be listed in automated flight searches, they’re the ones most likely to keep prices down by opting out. Low-cost flights can typically only be found on their own website or else through travel agents, and not in automated booking engine searches.
More routing choices
Any online booking engine requires exact dates in order to get prices, but when you consider seat availability or the frequency of the route (a flight may only operate once a week), your dates may not coincide with the best price or routing. A human has the ability to contextualize (take in the big picture), giving you route alternatives that will save you money or reduce your flying time.
Providing useful advice
People who work in the travel industry are typically travelers themselves, engaged people who love to talk about travel and are quick to offer insightful personal advice that is simply not possible to get using an automated system.
For the AirTreks product, our advice about routing, destinations, and airlines is indispensable when planning an Around the World or complex multi-destination trip. While there exists a wealth of information online and in travel books, we believe nothing compares to the brain-pickings of an expert. Sometimes human suggestions about the order of your stops or which airport to fly into or out of will make the difference between getting more direct flights, shorter layovers and most importantly, a lower price.
Having an advocate
Simply stated, when you book online the only one watching your back is you. What if you’re connecting between two airlines and there’s an unexpected schedule change that causes you to miss your flight? What happens if one of your airlines goes out of business? Not only is AirTreks an expert at putting together the best trip possible when planning your initial route, we’re also experts at working on your behalf once your tickets are issued.
Making changes easily
If you book through a booking engine online and want to make a change to your ticket, who do you turn to? If you call the airline, you will likely be referred back to the issuing agency, the website you used to buy them. Unfortunately online sources are notoriously difficult to contact, and if you do reach someone, chances are it will be a data entry or social media PR representative, as opposed to a travel professional who can provide productive solutions.
Even though it would be easy to adapt our TripPlanner application into an automated booking tool, we think that you, the traveler, would get the short end of that stick. Our agents are specialists who know the airlines, their routings, and how travelers think.
We work for our clients tirelessly behind the scenes getting you great flights, being your advocate and lifeline in the case of an emergency. Why would anyone trust a computer with that?