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Bothered by Online Travel?

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#2 in the series Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered from the syndicated column of Chicke Fitzgerald, the author of the Game Changer.

I imagine that those sitting on this beach are bothered daily by how low the planes are when they land. This isn’t photoshopped. There are dozens of photos and videos of the reactions of people when the planes are about to land at the St. Maarten airport.

To continue our series on online travel, I contend that what we should in fact be bothered by is that after 22 years, online travel is still air-centric. And we should be really bothered that online sites all market to us like we are on vacation.

Why? It’s harmless you say. 

Because people travel for so many reasons beyond vacation. In fact, just 8% of all trips taken in the US are vacations or weekend getaways (which are the shorter version of their longer cousin). 

Yet we are relentlessly marketed to as if that is why we are traveling. 

  • We travel to take care of loved ones.
  • To help our siblings find assisted living for our aging parents. 
  • To go to concerts and sporting events. 
  • We participate in pastimes that takes us to other places, such as golf tournaments, seminars and dog shows. 
  • We take part in life events with friends and family such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and even funerals.   
  • And yes, we travel for business, but even that is just 25% of total travel in the US.

We should be bothered because “they” have lulled us into a place that they designed just for us. That place where we have to do all kinds of research before even starting the booking process. 

  1. Where are we really going? 
  2. When do we need to be there? 
  3. What hotels are nearby and of those, are they available?
  4. Do they fit my budget and my preferences?

Yet every day hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms are booked, near airports and in city centers, often miles from where you really need to be in the morning, or far from where you ended up last night.

Imagine searching for a hotel in New York City. Did you know that the city of New York covers 304.6 square miles? So where exactly did you want a hotel?  

The song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered continues:

I’m in love and don’t I show it
Like a babe in arms

And we do it over, and over, and over again…forgetting that the lack of focus on proximity robs us of precious time — the time it takes to do all the research to find the right place near our true destination. And the most precious time of all – our time to drive too far to an event or to a meeting because we didn’t stay close enough.

Proximity matters.

I can tell you, based on my own trip there last week that 5 miles away in New York City at rush hour could mean a 45-60 minute drive.

Love’s the same old sad sensation
Lately, I’ve not slept a wink
Since this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink

Time matters.  Don’t they know that?

Even business travelers get caught in this trap, beguiled and lulled into believing that Google Maps will take care of them. 

Did you know that of the 25% of the trips that are business trips just 44% are by air? That means that 56% are by car. 

Yet driving directions are often from a city center or an airport, and rarely do they accommodate where we are really coming from.

We as travelers believe that Google [replace with the name of your favorite GPS app] will help us find a place nearby our prospect or our customer location or the wedding or funeral, or the conference or training program we are attending or like my true story, to the hospital where my niece was just airlifted after an ATV accident.

I’m wild again
Beguiled again
A simpering, whimpering child again

But, while the map shows hotels nearby, by the time I’ve clicked on all the links and checked availability and pricing, I know that once again I’ve been beguiled only this time it is the promise of simplicity.

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I

Every year, the online travel agencies, metasearch companies and travel suppliers [oh, and throw in mapping companies] spend literally billions of dollars on brand spending and keywords to convince us that this is all ok and that their flavor of solution is the one that you should use; that this is the way it should be. And we, the bewitched, believe them. 

Couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t sleep
When love came and told me
I shouldn’t sleep
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I

Tomorrow we will wrap up this series and talk about why you should be bewildered about this and question how you could look at trip planning differently in your own company.  A VISIT US page perhaps? 

Stay tuned.

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