I always have to smile when I realize that I am not in this boat alone. Perhaps there is something to that whole “misery loves company” saying, but in a sense it is reassuring (under any condition) to know that you are not alone. In the travel industry, we bemoan the Internet. Sure, we embrace it—it makes our jobs a lot easier. But we bemoan it because of “those” clients. You know the ones. They always start out their conversations with you with something like, “well, my cousin Myrtle saw this same trip on www…..” There is no doubt about it. The Internet has put many of us out of business. Granted, they were probably ready to go out without the Internet but it likely was the catalyst.
Several years ago, I heard Mike Batt speaking about a time in the future when people would actually leave their homes, walk or drive to a store, fondle actual products (his words, not mine) and yes—even buy them! While Mike realized the power of the Internet, he also realized that it might not be all that. He knew that it might take some time; and that agencies would have difficult years, but that at some point, the consumer would want the value provided by a real person. Now that was maybe a decade ago, but I think Mike may have been pretty spot on.
Yesterday I read a blog post lamenting the loss of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s last record and CD store. The author, a young kid by most definitions also sees the same shift that Batt did.
Believe it or not, there was a time when folks would go to a store to browse products. Nowadays, we call this browsing, and it is achieved via your computer. Big box stores put the mom n’ pops out of business. The mom n’ pops went digital and, eventually, cyber space put the big box stores out of business… with the digital mom n’ pops becoming Internet big box. Confusing, right?
It seems pretty cyclical to me. The author is upset that he is now among the many trying to survive in a poor economy, yet he holds out constant hope.
I do, however, see a light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Within the next 15 years I foresee a revival of the brick and mortar stores. Assuming we don’t bomb ourselves into another dark ages, I believe folks will grow tired of the iLifestyle and will want to venture back out into the real world, much like how vinyl records are making a big come back. Everything works in cycles, so I find solace in that.
I find solace in that as well. I see it and hear about it every day. The travel business is not booming for most, but it is making a decent comeback. Is it because of an improving economy? Or a frustrated consumer who has had enough “browsing?” What do you think?