A Tale Of Two Travel Agencies

from the dealing-with-the-internet... dept

For years we've been hearing stories about how the ease of online travel booking meant that there was no more need for travel agents. It was one of those classic case studies about how the internet would cut out the middleman. So, it looked like it might just be more of the same in this story from the Wisconsin State Journal talking about a 70-year-old travel agency that was closing after losing too much business to the internet. However, the article then gets much more interesting, as it contrasts the experience of the closing travel agency, to another local travel agency that has made adjustments to the internet age, allowing it to continue to thrive. The president of that travel agency explains how she reorganized the company into three different divisions focusing on specific areas where clients are much more likely to need the human touch in setting up travel plans. Then, of course, there's talking up the additional services that a human travel agent can provide. It might not hurt to point out some of the downsides to booking everything online yourself (such as the amount of time it takes to really find a good price). Of course, further contradicting the "cuts out the middleman" story, was the news earlier this year that both Expedia and Travelocity were looking to set up brick and mortar travel agencies themselves. Either way, the original article above shows why the conventional wisdom doesn't always apply -- and how smart businesses can figure out ways to adjust to a changing marketplace.


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    Adam Szymczak, Aug 3rd, 2005 @ 8:01am

    No Subject Given

    Hmmmm, a business having to adapt to survive. When Home Depot opened a store on the waterfront in Toronto, many people said that the local hardware stores would fail. Instead, the hardware stores adapted and are thriving, focusing on service and providing those things that people need urgently to complete a weekend project. Why go to HD to pickup a few extra parts and deal with parking, lines, etc, when you could liklely walk over to your hardware store and be out in 5 to 10 minutes?

     

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      Brice Hunt, Aug 3rd, 2005 @ 9:38am

      Re: No Subject Given

      I know of a place where a big box home improvement store was put up and then the local store went out of business in just over a year because local competition was more than the big box could handle--even on price. Many of the local competition bought directly from manufacturers or leveraged their memberships as an Ace or TruValue store to buy things with other Ace and TruValue stores and decrease costs.

       

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        Adam Szymczak, Aug 3rd, 2005 @ 10:18am

        Adapt or Die

        Successful companies know how to adapt in order to compete. Price is not everything. In fact, it is overrated as a deciding factor. Wal-Mart is price-competitive on a limited range of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). I have left Wal-Mart on plenty of occasions because they had no shopping carts available or the lines we too long and/or moving too slowly or you could not move around the store.

         

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    James Ashley, Aug 3rd, 2005 @ 3:55pm

    Corporate America *has* to figure this out!

    Corporations have two options. They can embrace the new technology and figure out ways to make money from it (since a lot of their old revenue sources are going away). Or they die agonizing deaths, kicking and screaming up ridiculous lawsuits.

    Now that I think about it, there's a third approach. I suppose some people in the recording industry might have been smart enough to figure this out. Kick and scream. Keep suing people as long as the senile old clueless judges are willing to assign insane fines. They might be able to drag out this state of affairs for decades, until the kids in law school now (you know, the ones doing all the file sharing) finally reach the bench. At that point, switch to their backup plan.

    I don't really think that last option is what's happening. The most likely idea for that backup plan looks an awfully lot like the iPod, and they've already been trumped there. I honestly don't expect much in the way of technological innovation from the RIAA.

     

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