Earlier this week the word came down: Tripology is no more. And with that news I joyfully sang “So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye.” In the years that Tripology has existed, travel professionals have had an intense love-hate relationship with them, with more hate than love.
Like many other professionals, I gave them a chance. I paid for several cruise leads. Exactly ONE panned out. It was an elderly couple looking for help to book their first (and likely only) cruise. They did book with me, and it wound up being a nice commission. But all of the subsequent leads that I purchased ended up being consumers looking for a deal; looking to pit three travel agents against each other to drive down the price to the lowest possible level. I don’t compete on price; and even as a newbie in the industry, I resisted these types of competitions to the bottom.
For me personally, Tripology was an anti-agent site. Yes, you could tweak your profile. You could restrict the types of leads that you received. But in the end, the bulk of consumers using the site were budget conscious, lowest-price-possible shoppers. As I would put it, the consumers had no “skin in the game.” The site was free to them. The cost was put on travel professionals (paying anywhere from a couple of dollars up to twenty dollars a lead, multiplied by three agents getting to purchase each lead). And the real kicker was that the consumers had no incentive to use any of the travel professionals that had purchased their lead.
Of course Tripology didn’t care. They made their money by selling the leads. There was no interest in promoting the use of travel professionals; no interest in charging a plan-to-go-fee which could then be applied to the final payment if they indeed worked with one of the three travel agents that purchased the lead. And when USA Today bought Tripology, it actually seemed to get worse; as in the cost of leads got higher, and the quality of leads got worse (no apparent qualify control).
Overall, I’m not surprised that Tripology finally decided to close up shop this week. And if you can’t tell already, I’m not upset about it either. However, I would like to see something more travel professional friendly to take its place. We always have a need for promoting the use of travel professionals, and there are consumers out there with a need to be matched to a good travel professional to assist them with their travel needs. Hopefully we’ll find that happy medium and see it launch soon.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com), she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.