Unfortunately the internet has made so many people think that all there is to certain professions is quoting and booking. Insurance, mortgages, home renovations, photography and tons of other services have been effected by people thinking they can go find someone online and get them to simply quote what they want so they can choose between the cheapest option and then book that service. No other industry has been more effected by this mentality than the travel industry.
But it is so much more than that. Relationships play a key role in travel. The time we spend traveling to various destinations and attending conferences, dinners and luncheons is not because we love food or just love being away from our families so much. It's not just for the purpose of touring and evaluating various resorts and hotels. It is for the relationships we build with the key personnel at those resorts and hotels or with our preferred tour operators and wholesalers.
The benefits of those relationships are passed down to our clients. Those little welcome amenities or those occasional free upgrades or those special dinners or excursions are all results of the time we spend getting to know the resort managers or concierge staff or our wholesaler's business development managers (BDM's as we refer to them). And when the occasional error is made because we are all human, it is our relationship again with key contacts that gets things corrected.
This is why we tell people, sure you can book it on your own through some online travel site, but you may never ever know what you are missing out on until you work with a professional who has become good friends with the key contacts at that resort that you chose.
Now you may think, well I will try to get to know the resort staff myself when I am there. Feel free to do so, but what the general public cannot do is be a resource of hundreds of possible new clients. You may decide to vacation at that resort again, but travel professionals may send scores of new clients to that one resort...or they may not, depending on client experiences and relationships with that resort.
And this is where the HUMAN travel professional is different than the online travel agency, or OTA as they are called; it is impossible to build goodwill and trust with a computer. The persons behind the scenes at the online agencies are only interested in getting things as cheap as they can so they can convince their users to simply get a quote via them and click "book it." The resorts know that the online agencies are only interested in beating them down to get prices lower and lower. What do you think that does to the relationship between resort and OTA? Do you think that the OTA client is high on the resort's priority list when they check in?
This is why we no longer consider an OTA as our competition. We know that our relationships within our industry is what makes for an incredible vacation experience for our clients. We know vacation planning is more than quoting and booking. Want to learn more about how we are different than some online travel site? Click on this link and let us show you.