I am a 21 year-old, and as such, I have a very limited experience of life without the internet, cell phones, data plans, and social media. With this in mind, I find it hard to compare Travel 2.0 to the ways in which people travelled in the past because I have never experienced it before. Travel 2.0 is my Travel 1.0, the original, the starting point. I have nothing to compare it to, as I am only now beginning to make my own travel plans and seeing what it is like to compare airline prices and book hotel rooms. This is a very new concept for me as well, and my peers have been a great resource for me to use in finding websites that do all the work for us.
Is it possible that travel agents will go out of business within the next ten years? I do not think so. At the very least, those who have been able to afford to use travel agencies will continue to do so, as travel 2.0 is the new wave of travel but it is not easy to participate in. In my experiences studying abroad, I have frequently been one to spend hours and hours looking at multiple travel sites and airline comparisons trying to figure out the best deals: it is a lot of work! If I could afford to have someone do this work for me and scour the internet for the best deal possible, I would prefer to pass on the job to a professional. There is a reason why organizing travel is a career.
Another aspect of travel 2.0 that I have always lived through is the sharing of photos online. Through social networking and media sites, there is a new type of agitator, FOMO, that I find interesting and very much a component of travel 2.0. FOMO, or “fear of missing out” is a driving force to travel and advertise your activities to your online following in order to ensure that everyone knows how exciting your life is. The fear that your friends will have fun without you is such a strong motivator to include yourself in all activities that it leads you to feel that now that you have participated and had fun, you must share it with the world. In sharing your activities, your other friends will then follow by making plans to go to the same hotel because they see how much fun you had while there. And thus begins the cycle that is making travel sites and resorts tons of money with minimal advertising.
As shown in the infographic by Bennett on via AdWeek, people want to trust the places they go and they stay because the internet can be a very sketchy, dangerous place at times. If they have to use the internet to find their accommodations and organize their plans, they are more inclined use a recommendation from a friend instead of trying their luck with a random site. This makes as much sense as trusting a travel agent to do the work for you and provide you a nice, clean, and legitimate place to stay at an affordable price. The travel agent is held accountable through payment, knowing that a bad connection made can ruin the relationship with the client and even force them to give a refund. A friend, on the other hand, is responsible to another friend on a level just as deep and holding a friend accountable for a bad experience may mean the end of that relationship. The friend and the travel agent both have something to lose in the exchange, so why not give your best recommendation?