Travel agents are becoming fashionable again as “travel designers”, and after a hellish traveling experience I understand why.
As agents used to, travel designers handle the painful parts: planning, executing, and management.
However, unlike agents, designers tailor the experience to your tastes. It seems like you choose how much involvement you want with itinerary planning. Unlike a prepackaged experience that agents offer, the trip becomes uniquely yours because it’s based on your preferences. Then, you go on your trip and they handle the rest.
I wonder if the travel agent industry died out because it was transactional, not experiential. From what I’ve heard, no one looks forward to speaking with their agent. You didn’t learn about the best secret restaurants and hotels from them and you were charged a premium for what you can do with TripAdvisor for free.
So why would someone pay for this in the age of free information?
I’ve always enjoyed planning my trips, but after taking way too much shit during my 3-month stint in Asia, I get it. I’m incredibly price-sensitive, too. I’d rather stay in $10/night hostels if they are clean and comfortable.
But then I spent +30 hours in the last month planning and managing only accommodations! On occasion, this necessitated interrupting work hours, so the disruptions significantly affected my productivity. It boiled over when I felt like I was spending so much energy planning the coming weeks that I couldn’t stop to enjoy the present moment.
I’m tired of loading my Skype account so I can make expensive international calls to dispute hotel charges and negotiate refunds. I’m tired of being charged a premium for terrible experiences (have you been told “it’s tourist season”, too?). I want to focus on important work, my creative pursuits, and enjoying Asia.
Sometimes the pursuit of saving money is expensive in time and attention. In this case, to plan hotels is not why I chose to travel, and I’m willing to pay something to remove some menial tasks and manage my trip.
What do you think?
I’ve started looking into travel designers and initiated help from Journy, a modern company looking to improve this experience. Keep an eye out for my review of the experience, and if I think travel designers can be worth it.