As an author and a speaker, I travel a lot. Unfortunately, traveling has become a degrading, irritating, frustrating, de-humanizing experience. Travel is still an amazing, soul-refreshing and joyous experience. It’s the coming and going that have devolved into torture, and I’m not just speaking about the airlines.
It takes two hours and thirty minutes for me to fly from Vancouver to Las Vegas, but I know from experience, that it will really take all day. I have to show up at the airport two hours early for my international flight. I have to check myself in, and pay to check my bags, all of which takes longer than the old-fashioned way.
Someone call Cirque du Soleil! I’m now an expert juggler: shoes off, terrifying toothpaste in a baggie, laptop in a separate bin, and camcorder in another. I send the laptop through last so there’s a chance of grabbing it before it sails off the other end into the floor. I’ve seen it dozens of times.
Next, I reverse the process and cram everything back where it came from while hopping on one foot with a dangling shoe on the other.
I might also have the pleasure of being chosen for the body scanner, also known as the “why-didn’t-I-go to-the-gym-this-week-chamber-of-shame.”
If I foolishly gamble with carry-on, I cross my fingers that my “group number” boards while there is still overhead space. Funny, but the airlines that have no boarding order seem to board faster.
Dried-out premium-priced sandwiches await me along with two ounces of complimentary soft drinks. Some flights are also offering paid Wi-Fi access. It’s a nice distraction for the growing number of broken armrests, sticky carpets and smelly lavatories. Do they ever empty them?
And why is it that Wi-Fi was a dangerous crash-causing hazard until they started offering it for a fee?
Landing in Las Vegas is always a bumpy thrill-a-minute event due to the rising desert heat. They add to the arrival fun by having the slowest luggage delivery on earth, averaging around 40 minutes.
But wait, there’s more fun waiting outside in the blistering heat where the taxi queue is growing to giant proportions. I’ve waited up to an hour, but it gives me time to mentally prepare. At first I didn’t realize that all those roller coasters and motion simulators were intended to train you for ride in a Las Vegas taxicab.
The real adventure begins at the hotel. Since most Las Vegas hotels, cruise ships, and beach resorts have become city-sized, they apparently decided to go for the full-on city experience. Have you renewed your driver’s license lately? You’re prepared! Between the line and actual check-in, my average wait time is about half an hour.
What are they typing? Why does it take so long? Are they really updating their Facebook Profile?
At end of my stay, I get to repeat the whole exciting experience again. Checkout is just as frustrating as check-in (video checkout rarely works). More taxi lines, more airport lines, more baggage fees, more security shame, more dried-out sandwiches, and then the final question: “where did I park my car?”
Why did I go on such a rant? Because travel agents still spend most of their time on the worst part of travel: transportation and accommodations. Obviously it’s because that’s where the commission is earned.
Traveling is a nightmare. Travel is a dream. The dream part is on the beach, in the spa, in that perfect little café, or in a special moment with a loved one. How much time do you spend helping your clients to create those dreams?
It is the dream part that brings the joy to travelers. It is the dream part that matters the most yet the dream part pays no commission.
Now you know why I preach so often and so loud about charging fees. They help you ease the nightmare of traveling by creating the dream of travel.
Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry. He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada. Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.