Commissioned News Story (Source: Global Discovery Vacations)
Some travel clubs and agencies are trying to better connect with their customers as the explosion of digital technology and social media have removed some of the personal interaction from the travel-planning experience.
Even still, popular travel sites are trying to find a way to reproduce the lost person-to-person interaction. Expedia, for example, is using a data system called Pega that stores and analyzes user info to try and help it take better care of its customers.
"To understand what the customer is calling about, the history of the customer, all of that is stored in Pega," Expedia senior manager Miko Ollila told Diganomica. "The rules will help us have that conversation in a fluent way. We are by no means done with that, we are starting to really bear down on that journey and figure out how these conversations are going to be had in a more individual fashion. We have a great opportunity in that we know your travel history, we know you."
But some of those clubs and agencies are already out there filling that need. Global Discovery Vacations is one example.
Global Discovery Vacations Vice President Cathy Wunder says, "We make vacations affordable but, more interestingly, we keep people accountable to take their vacations. They've paid for it and planned ahead for it, so it makes them use their time and actually go somewhere. People always say 'I've always wanted to go to such and such, but I just never planned it.'"
"Even when the economy took a downturn, we didn't see a huge decline in sales, because people always want to get away," she adds. "When things are bad, they want to escape, and when things are good, people still want to escape, they just have more money to do it with."
Research does, in fact, indicate that people who use travel agents are more likely to be happier with their trips. A survey sponsored by Carnival Cruises from MMGY polled 8,400 Americans with income of more than $50,000, who had traveled within the last year, to come up with that.
"It stops the information overload. When you go to a travel site, there is just so much to look at, and you might not be sure you're making the right decision," says Lori Smith, Global Connections Travel Agency manager. "There's so much to consider, but even with self-guided tours that allow you to explore on your own, having someone map something out for you can be helpful and take some of the stress out of planning."
Global Discovery Vacations is a travel club that offers weeklong condominium stays, cruise and tour vacation services and full-service travel agency support. They seem to be doing something right.
Ed E. from Cardington, Ohio, says, "I never thought I would want to go to a ski resort in the summer but we had a great time and had things to do every day, the condo was very nice and the weather was great almost every day. I recommend that everyone try it, you will be surprised."
Ross L. from Columbia, Maryland, said, "We've never had the interest in going to Hilton Head because we aren't golfers. But that little gem is an amazingly peaceful and beautiful island that I'm sure we'll revisit. The condos and staff were top notch. No complaints (although we would've loved to see more alligators in the wild. We think we saw one, but that's about it.) 😉 Thanks for listing this great resort!"
There are plenty of similar raves from other members, indicating that they have really benefited from the hands-on approach they've gotten from a travel club.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, trip planning sources have shifted over the last several years, with social media and mobile devices being used more often. People want to know what other people have to say about the places they're interested in visiting. It shows that, when planning for vacations, people like to get input from those who have been there before, and those who have experience.
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