Become a well-informed traveler and travel planner says Eric Hrubant
What if I told you that 58 other people are NOT looking at the same hotel online as you are? Or that there is more than one seat on a flight left at that price? The pop-up counters you see on travel booking sites are myths.
Planning corporate, group, leisure and honeymoon travel is my job as a travel professional, but helping you become a well-informed traveler and travel planner is just as important to me.
Let’s debunk a few travel myths for good:
Travel Myth #1: You can rely on online travel reviews for credible insights
No, no you can’t.
Years before the prevalence of travel review sites, the news reported stories about hotel websites displaying manipulated images to make the property look more appealing than it really was to travelers. Add a palm tree here. Lighten the color of sand there. Voila, 2-star looks like a 4-star property.
Today, we are even more inundated with misleading news, photos and reviews. Consider this: an Italian court sentenced a person to nine months in prison for writing fake positive reviews for TripAdvisor in exchange for money from various hotels. Despite travel review sites attempting to crack down on fake online reviews, the problem persists.
Take online travel reviews with a grain of salt. Better yet, base travel destination decisions on first-hand reviews from trusted friends, colleagues, or professional travel planners, who personally visit cities and properties around the world.
Travel Myth #2: 58 people are looking at this hotel or there are only 4 seats left at this price
No, no there isn’t.
A more recent phenomenon is the messages that pop up while you’re browsing certain hotel, airline, shopping or event ticket websites. These messages state that a specific number of people are also viewing what you’re viewing or that there are only a specific number of tickets left at a certain price.
Remember, the main purpose of airline websites is to sell plane tickets. These messages are merely digital marketing tools developed to play on your FOMO (fear of missing out). Seeing that only a few tickets remain raises your blood pressure and raises the chance you’ll purchase a ticket before leaving the site.
Travel Myth #3: Nobody uses travel agents anymore now that there are travel booking sites
Yes, yes people most certainly are relying on travel agents.
I’ve debunked the myth that online travel reviews are authentic. Nothing can take the place of expertise and experience when it comes to booking and managing travel. For example, prior to storms impacting travel around the world, good travel planners will proactively rebook reservations so that clients get to their destination without stress. A travel booking site will never, ever do this for customers.
Another example, should you miss a flight, or a flight is delayed: one quick call to your trusted travel agent and it’s handled. Imagine the time and frustration dealing with rebooking a flight using a travel booking website call center.
Using travel booking websites does not result in finding lower rates. Through partnerships and buying power, travel agencies have access to those same low rates, and often lower, plus with perks booking sites cannot offer, such as upgrades, no change fees and no cancellation fees.
Travel Myth #4: Waiting until the last minute to book travel is the best way to score an enormous discount
No, not anymore.
No longer do airlines and hotels steeply discount rates to fill seats. You can blame software and its algorithms for the demise of last-minute savings. Airlines accurately plan routes and set fares based on supply and demand. Waiting to book your travel these days will result only in fewer options and higher prices.
Being aware of some of the myths above will help you make more informed decisions when it comes to travel planning.