We Fix Internet Vacations

Sell the benefits of using a travel agent, even if they seem obvious By: Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro

My kids love the television commercials by Hotels.com featuring a character called Captain Obvious. If you haven’t seen these ads, Captain Obvious makes really obvious statements about hotels — sometimes to people who are fooled by booking with other online sites and end up disappointed. For instance, as a family stands in a horribly creepy hotel room, shocked by how different it looks from the Internet ad they saw, Captain Obvious tells them: “You should have booked with Hotels.com ... instead of people who lie on the Internet.”

Silly, sure. But, despite being an ad for an online booking site, I think this campaign is actually a good promotion for travel agents.

I’ve always wanted to run a feature in TravelAge West that shows a beautiful hotel room on one side of the page and what the actual room looks like without any Photoshop work on the other side of the page. I think most people would be shocked at how much better something can look in the hands of professional designers.

Maybe that sounds like something Captain Obvious would say, but there are plenty of travelers out there who don’t realize the risk of booking a vacation without the help of expert advice.

One travel agent at the recent Global Travel Marketplace West said that, in order to bring in customers to her brick-and-mortar agency, she hangs a big sign in the window that reads, “We fix Internet vacations.”

This issue of TAW comes out right after Memorial Day weekend and, according to the Auto Club of America, more than 36 million Americans will take a trip of at least 50 miles over the weekend. That’s the highest number since 2005. I guarantee that a sizable percentage of that 36 million will come home wondering what went wrong. This is a great time for travel agents to remind consumers of a better, easier, more reliable way to craft an ideal vacation.

Whether you hang a sign in your window, share your success stories on Facebook or find some other way to spread the word, it’s important to sell the benefits of using a travel agent — even if you think that’s totally obvious.

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