Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reservations About Reservations

What did we do before we were able to make all our own travel reservations online via websites? Oh, yeah, I remember. We went to actual travel agents and booked flights and hotels and sightseeing excursions. That seems like so long ago, and yet it wasn't. It was only ten years ago.

How do I know this? For some reason I remember calling a travel agent to find a flight for me to New York City during Christmas time 2001. That was the Fall of "9/11." Everything was affected. I had found a great travel deal online for hotels and needed a cheap flight. Like the good travel agent she was, she found me one. And, you know, her fees were really inexpensive. About $20 in total. Not bad, when you think about how easily she found the flight vs. the time it takes us now to peruse our many travel websites to find the best fares and flights. . .and car rentals. . .and hotels.

Now, she like so many other hard-working travel agents who were experienced professionals in that complicated world of travel arranging & booking is no longer employed. The travel agency that sat beside the bank in that neighborhood shopping center is gone. For years now. Just like the majority of independent travel agencies around this company. Gone out of business because their business disappeared, almost overnight.

I remember it happening. We all participated. Remember when we started exploring some of those first almost-primitive travel websites? Now, they're filled with all sorts of features we amenity-hungry travel shoppers demand while we shop for the "best deal." The only problem: WE have to do the shopping.

The travel agents used to shop for us, and it NEVER took them that long to find the best deal, either. Yes, I know, the system was simpler then. But still---those folks did it for a living and were darn good at it---and plenty fast. And all we had to pay them was $20. Today, we pay $20 for checking one lousy piece of luggage which we're not sure the airline will deliver to us at our destination or not.

Looking back, we had a pretty good deal until we decided we didn't need it anymore. Or, did we? Your thoughts?