Tag Archives: travel agents

Where have all the people gone?

“Please listen carefully – Press 1 for English, Press 2 for French. If you were born on a Tuesday press 4 …. thank you for holding. Your time is important and we will be with you as soon as possible. Your current wait time is 24 minutes.”

Does all this automation really speed things up? I am really not sure. Have you been through arrivals at Calgary airport where you feed your form into the computer and then have to go and stand in a line so a man can tell you whether you can leave or not. ???

Same as e-tickets and checking in online. You get to the airport and you still have to go to another computer to print out baggage tags – or maybe I am missing something – so how come you have to go and stand in another line up. And … something I have to vent about …. I still cannot manage to get those baggage tags on my bags without the help of one of the airline staff.

Where will this all lead us? Will flight attendants be next? Just get on the plane yourself and find your own seat. Get yourself seated and it is up to you to check that you have your seatbelt on. Can’t always depend on someone else to look out for you. A robot can’t do that job. What happens if there is an emergency mid flight? Or someone has a baby? Or they run out of the pasta option. Who’re you gonna complain to? Robots don’t care – they don’t have feelings.

It’s alright – we can all relax. Flight attendants are the least likely people to be replace by robots according to http://www.replacedbyrobot.info who record as follows –

0 % Chance of Automation

“Flight Attendant” will never be replaced by robots.

This job is ranked #250 out of #702. A higher ranking (i.e., a lower number) means the job is less likely to be replaced.

What a relief! I really don’t want to be on a flight without a flight attendant who can do all these amazing things. You should read the list on the website – https://www.replacedbyrobot.info/56127/airline-flight-attendant

After reading this report I got curious….. Mmm – “they” keep saying that travel agents will go the way of dinosaurs. I wonder what http://www.replacedbyrobot.info thinks about travel agents ….. deep breath – click search ….

5.7% Chance of Automation

“Travel Agent” will not be replaced by robots.

This job is ranked #143 out of #702. A higher ranking (i.e., a lower number) means the job is less likely to be replaced.

Whew! That’s a relief. But what is the job most likely to be replaced by robots I wondered ….

Right on top of the list – TELEMARKETERS…. well I am not sorry but I do feel a bit bad for those who might lose their jobs.

Other aspects of travel that we don’t want to be replaced by a robot would be hotel check in. Now I know it is a nuisance sometimes when you get to the hotel and there is a big line up for check in. This is particularly common when everyone arrives from the airport on the free shuttle (maybe a reason to shell out for a taxi). However how can you explain to the robot that you absolutely hate a connecting door in your room? Yes I know you can put in that as a request when you book your hotel but we all know that no-one reads that kind of thing. How many times have you heard “Yes we know you wanted a king bed but it does say that this is on a request basis only”. No, give me a person any time. You know why – you can smile at a person, be nice, be chatty, (honey attracts more bees than vinegar) …. you can’t do that to a computer!

You got a problem with that?

At first glance the travel industry seems to be a pretty cool place to work.  I am sure lots of people have the vision of sitting at a desk just booking amazing hotels, picking out incredible tours and experiences in out of the way places that are exotic and romantic.  That is certainly part of the job for sure – and one that attracts all of us into the industry.  However the real job comes when the “proverbial” hits the fan and problems need to be solved.

I have realised that problem solving is a bigger part of the job than actually planning and booking the travel.  One long time travel agent told me years ago –
“Remember – you can do everything perfectly, check and cross check your itinerary, reconfirm till you are blue in the face.  The minute your client steps on the plane they are in the hands of the gods.”

Very true!  Problems can be big or small.  Like the small ants that marched morning and night through the hotel room next to Disneyland.  High season so there was no room at the Inn (Holiday or otherwise).  After an exhaustive search to move clients I got a phone call saying that they had solved the problem themselves.  Oh my goodness I thought.  That’s bad that I couldn’t solve it and they could.  What did they do? Where were they booked? ……… At the same hotel….they stopped the ants coming in by using a couple of tubes of toothpaste all around the baseboard of the room.  Well….there you go.  Problem solved and I can’t claim any praise at all.

Bigger problems like volcanoes in Iceland require more than a tube of toothpaste.  The first problem was that nobody could really pronounce the name of the volcano –

Eyjafjallajökull

The second problem was that it happened on a weekend.  Say goodbye to your weekend travel agents….And the on hold times were atrocious so if you didn’t have someone problem solving for you it was pretty bleak.

Having clients down in South Africa unable to fly via Europe required rebooking and rerouting via South America.  Long flying time but they got home in the end although honestly I would have probably extended my vacation in Cape Town.

Some problems just cannot be solved – not even by God himself.  Well – maybe He could.  Like the client who wanted to move hotels in Puerto Vallarta because the waves kept knocking her over when she went for a swim.  ???

And then the problems of the twin share….oh my goodness.  I could write a book.  Let me explain.  Twin share means a single doesn’t have to pay the single supplement and they will get “matched up” with someone of the same sex.  So how do you solve the problem of the lady who insisted on leaving her undies to soak in the hand basin in the bathroom every night.  Kinda puts you off brushing your teeth, right?

Oh and the lady who missed her flight because she said the transfer was late picking her up.  Well – that’s terrible and we immediately went into overdrive to solve the problem.  Booked a hotel at the airport, another flight home the next day. We launched a complaint with the transfer company only to discover that the transfer company had dropped her and other passengers off in good time for the flight – it seems that something interrupted her between the doors of the airport and the check in gate.  Something called duty free shopping perhaps?  Yes – we women love to shop and this is a problem I am unable to solve.

 

 

Things you ask your travel agent

My lips are sealed

My lips are sealed

Being a travel agent is sometimes like being a priest.  People have to tell you things that you cannot ever tell anyone else and sometimes people have requests that might seem bizarre.  But again the rule applies – My lips are sealed.

That’s why I was surprised but intrigued to read an article posted in an Australian publication where travel agents listed the sort of things that customers had asked them.  Maybe the Australians are very different to us?  I don’t really think so but some of these questions / requests had me scratching my head or giggling with delight.

Here are my favourites –

“I received a request from a client to drive his Mercedes SL500 for eight weeks while he was on holidays and take it for its regular service. As a good agent, I kindly accepted!” …. Hey I will do that for anyone.  Honestly!  I won’t even charge a fee.

coin-slot-tattoo“A client wanted to stay at a casino in Las Vegas that has slot machines in the male toilets. I couldn’t satisfy this request as casino rules state there must be cameras on all gaming machines and of course, no cameras are allowed in bathrooms.” … I would say he has a problem.

“I had a male client ask how many pairs of underwear should he get his wife to pack for him!” …. She should have told him he should be doing his own packing.

crying baby“I answer the phone to a new inquiry … ‘I would like to send my child unaccompanied to Montevideo’. I explained that on the particular route there are some planes changes and that it could be tricky, asked the ‘mum’ how old was the minor. She answered, five months! When I informed her that it was not possible, her response was, don’t the airhostesses take care of them?” …. I would love to hear what flight attendants have to say about that!  As if they don’t have enough to do already.

Well I guess this means that one day in the far distant future when I write my memoirs I can “tell all” ….. or maybe not.

(extracts from Twisted Travel at news.com.au)