The wonderful thing about technology is that it insulates us from reality a lot of the time. It makes complicated things appear simple. It takes the drudgery out of completing certain repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, it also causes us to underestimate such complexity and not fully appreciate what we’re up against. Take travel for example, or more specifically, finding a fare — the optimum fare — between two points. Did you know that there are more than 3.5 BILLION possible fare combinations between Boston and San Francisco, for example? Whilst specialised travel software is extremely good at working out most of those possible fare computations, it still falls behind humans in some respects as computers continue to have difficulty with things like pattern recognition or lateral thinking — the proverbial ‘thinking outside the box’ which humans are very good at. It means that in many instances, a good, experienced travel agent can still trump the most sophisticated online booking engine when it comes to extracting the best/most efficient/most cost effective way to get from any given point A to another point B. At worst, a typical agent is invariably interrogating such a system than their consumer counterpart would be because of their greater geographic knowledge and/or familiarity with alternative routes, carriers, fare promotions, systems etc. Also, it’s not always necessarily about the money and a good travel agent can often represent the voice of reason in arguing why a slightly more expensive option might, in fact, represent better value for money because of other variables such as included extras, seat pitch, lower cancellation fees, better on-time record, newer aircraft, tastier inflight catering and a myriad other factors.
Modern technology can often lull consumers into thinking that they don’t need a travel agent whereas that is almost rarely true in much the same way that being able to change a tyre on your car makes you a mechanic. The next time you’re planning a trip abroad, don’t forget to give your local Travel Centres affiliated agent a call. I think you might be pleasantly surprised by the experience!