In today’s digital crazy world, it seems as if the online world is affecting almost everything we do — including our getaways. Today, a growing number of people are ditching high-street travel agents and choosing to book their holidays on digital platforms instead. Has the death of the travel agents arrived?
Around three-quarters of UK consumers now book their holidays over the internet, according to a holiday habits report by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) — but why is the trend shifting online?
Getaways of the past
I remember when I used to book my girly holidays when I was 17-25 and we used to always pop into a travel agents to book. It was just the done thing to do – let the holiday booking experts sort it all out for you. Going centuries into the past, Romans were the first civilisation to travel for pleasure and ‘go on holidays’, with some breaks for the very wealthy lasting up to two years at a time!
During the Dark Ages, pilgrimages were the only form of holiday, while the Tudors reserved travel only for royalty. It wasn’t until around the mid Renaissance era that young artists and aristocrats revived the Roman past-time, embarking on grand tours of Europe for inspiration.
Here’s an interesting fact: the first bank holiday came about in 1871. At this time, the Victorians travelled by steam engine and spent their new, three-day weekends on trips to the seaside: taking donkey rides, building sandcastles and enjoying vanilla ice-creams. Does this remind you all of family holidays to Blackpool, or Wales?
Fast-forward through the mass production of cars, the rise and fall of the British holiday camp, and the birth of the package holiday, and today, we explore all parts of the world as ‘the norm’. Going on holiday isn’t even a treat some some lucky people – travelling and exploring has become an everyday part of some peoples lives.
From coastal cottages to luxury city apartments, a world of choice is open to you when you book online. The growth of holiday lettings agencies and travel comparison sites means that consumers have more options when it comes to picking not only a holiday destination, but somewhere to stay.
No longer are people limited to hotels or apartments in a single agent’s portfolio, which has made the virtual world of booking more enticing.
I spent a long weekend at a beautiful countryside cottage in Whitby last year, but then also jetted off for a week in Lanzarote, before taking a luxury cruise around Greece and Malta. From cottages and B&B’s, to hotels and cruise ships, we are literally spoilt for choice.
Working long hours and having a busy family life means that many of us don’t have long to spare searching for the right holiday. Because we’re such an online savvy world, no longer do we have to spend a Saturday afternoon in a travel agents’ queue, trawling teletext or checking availability over the phone.
The internet has made it so easy – we can all can book from the comfort of their home or even out and about at any time of the day. How many of you have flight booking apps or even Air B&B on your phones?
Being able to quickly confirm the accommodation and flight of our choice has given us holidaymakes more freedom to scout around for the perfect destination. Now there is no need to rely on organised excursions once we arrive.
Instead, we can read blogs and reviews from fellow travellers, follow successful ‘Instragrammers’, and arrange our own transport and tours via local guides to explore hidden gems off the beaten track and quench our thirst for discovery. We can even message people on social media for recommendations and book things on our phones last minute…
Many people may choose to book online due to preferring this way of payment. While paying securely is a standard feature of all booking sites, many have the functionality for customers to input discount codes which result in a specific percentage coming off the full amount — a pleasant surprise no matter how much or little you might be forking out!
Plenty of sites also allow consumers to give the gift of a holiday to their loved ones, providing e-vouchers which, just like discount codes, are redeemable at the check-out stage of a booking.
Evidently, there have been great changes in holiday bookings — but what can we expect in the future?