As many of you know, I started my career in the travel industry as a travel advisor for STA Travel. I worked in a few of their branches before moving up to their head office in the UK. When I sold travel, we were paid commission on EVERYTHING, even domestic air. It was also an era where travelers still didn’t have smartphones, and most had no access to the internet.
The big yellow booking engine and that little blue gnome were not yet household names, and nobody thought they knew more about booking travel than their travel agent. It was still an age when we picked up our tickets in person from the travel agency, and when we checked in at the airline counter we were asked for our “ticket and passport please Mam”. It was also a time in history when it was totally OK to smoke on flights – that didn’t end until the late 90s! But that’s a whole other story.
My honest feeling, having watched the industry evolve over the past 22 years, is that we moved away from professional travel planners, to the big booking engines, and now a great majority of those who used to DIY their own travel are now hesitant to do so.
Last week I sat down to buy travel insurance for my family as we get ready to fly to France for two weeks. Before I knew it, I had 22 tabs open on my screen, and I was confused. I switched tasks to stop getting frustrated. But my next task, booking train tickets and car transfers also made me uncertain. I… 22 years of industry experience felt for the first time in my life, unqualified to book my own travel.
I felt unsure of the rules, unsure of the protocols. I feared making a mistake. So I picked up the phone and paid a $250 planning fee and handed my entire worry list over to a travel advisor. In the past few days, we have given her another $250 for another trip and sent a friend her way. A friend who is an avid online book.
My goal from 2022 onwards is that all 42 000 travel advisors that follow me, are members of our community, and take our training, ALL start to charge
I am determined to pull every single one of you to a place where you feel proud and confident of your planning fees.