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Quick, Quick, Slow

Finding the right travel solution

I was surprised to read a note from a Google Travel bloke taking about the speed at which an online query could be answered. "Less than a minute" was what the user requires. Apparently. In all my years, I can never ever think of giving someone a response in less than a minute. More like, half a day.

But, of course, I am missing the point. When someone wants a flight from A to B, then they want to know quickly what the best price is ..... or do they? Part of the travel selling process is understanding what the client wants - which is very often, totally different from what a client says they want. And when you do finally nail down what they actually want, that is not always the same as what they actually need. Especially, I may add, when it comes to holidays.

Case in point is when a client came to me asking for a top-quality holiday. "I always pick the most expensive hotel in the brochure" came a comment. Ah! But which brochure? At that time, they were picking the most expensive hotel - but from the Airtours brochure (no comments re: my age, please) when they really should have been looking in, say, Kuoni or Caribbean Connection. (There is/ was nothing wrong with Airtours, but, well, horses for courses, as they say.)

One can get the same with simple air travel. "How much is a flight from A to B?" then, later: "What about from B to C?" Eventually you get to the bottom of what the client is really after. Our job, as a travel agent, is not to answer simple questions; it is to get behind the question and understand what the person really is after and then produce that dream.

I use online search engines to make sure I have not missed anything and in an earlier piece, highlighted that there is a thin line between showing a realistic alternative to what is little more than click-bait fares.

So, if you really want an answer in less than a minute, then chances are you will get an answer that is perfectly correct and totally useless. Or perfectly correct but that, only after making all the wrong assumptions. What a client thinks they want and what a client will actually enjoy (and what is good value) cannot be produced in a minute. Further, it cannot be produced by answering some sort of questionnaire, given that any questionnaire can easily be understood by a client and so, even if subliminally, result in the clients desired answer.

The answer to a successful travel event is still the travel agent. The travel agent who takes time to understand the client, the clients' aspirations, their likes and dislikes, past experiences (good and bad) and get behind what they really are seeking.

You cannot do that in a minute. If you can, on or offline, it will be wrong.

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