With the availability of a wealth of information on the internet nowadays, one can easily research, plan and book your holidays from the comfort of your home. But this isn’t news of course. What is changing is the way people are getting their information and making their bookings.
There are various types of information with which one can get a complete and objective idea of their destination online, including:
Ratings and reviews from actual travelers on travel portals
Blogs and forums from seasoned travellers, discussing specific topics
‘Insider’ photos and videos
Satellite imagery and interactive maps, to assess proximity to beaches, attractions, restaurants etc.
Opinions from contacts on social networking sites, where credibility of the reviews are probably the highest
These are some of the resources travelers are turning to in order to gauge the vacation options that best suit their budget and taste. This results in a much more informed traveller, and more information means better preparedness, in turn maximizing the enjoyment of your holiday.
With this information at hand, the traveler can then book services such as flights, hotels, and tours directly with service providers, which has several benefits as mentioned below. This challenges the need for a middleman or agency, even online agencies, where the value addition is questionable. This is especially relevant in recent times where almost all operators in the tourism industry are offering their services directly to the public through their online channel.
The advantages of booking directly with service providers include:
Lower cost, since there’s no commissions or fees to be paid by the provider or the customer to the middleman.
Removal of bias – Middlemen will naturally tend to favor those providers that offer the highest commissions in the market, and may skew perceptions of the service offering/quality accordingly.
More and more hotels, airlines and services offer the best deals (even a best price guarantee) when booking directly with the provider itself.
Increased reliability, since the confirmation is directly with the service provider; there is no additional agency interface to deal with, with the possibility of loss in communication between the agency and the service provider.
Less cost and risk in terms of cancellations and modifications – in a lot of the cases the middleman will charge additional ‘processing fees’ for alterations to an itinerary.
Favorable payment terms – Most agencies require upfront payment, whereas you could have the option of paying at the completion of the service when dealing with the provider directly (e.g. car hire, hotels)
So the only thing that remains is to source the best information out there, and while disparate sites and blogs can be found easily on the internet, credibility should be judged to ensure that it isn’t the provider themselves throwing up their establishment, or worse still, a competitor unfairly knocking the operator. Once this is done, making the booking itself becomes a simple administrative task, and you can be rest assured that your decision was made under the right combination of accurate information, lowest cost and minimal ris