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Last night at dinner: "I got screwed booking travel online"

KarryOn Founder Matt Leedham shares a recent insight on booking travel online versus an agent around the dinner table with a bunch of everyday punters.

KarryOn Founder Matt Leedham shares a recent insight on booking travel online versus an agent around the dinner table with a bunch of everyday punters.

The phrase ‘Travel yourself interesting’ was officially coined a few years ago in an ad campaign by a certain online travel behemoth promoting the endless virtues of travelling and the stories that result from it.

Their clever insight was that when you’ve travelled, you’ve undoubtedly become more interesting than people who haven’t – regardless of their social status, wealth or level of education they may have attained. (check out the campaign, its great).

Using a house party as an example, in one of the ads, we see a wealthy-looking host couple ‘Rupert and Tatiyana’ being upstaged by another more animated (and less wealthy) couple across the room.

As the camera pans across to them, we see ‘David and Laura’, who are just back from a trip to the Himalayas, hilariously telling their new found friends how ‘the Nepalese locals stick their tongues out to say hello to each other.’

Which of course nobody else knew about.

Cue raucous laughter from all and instant hero status for the travelling couple.

Meanwhile, the stuffy couple looks on, with pangs of jealousy.


The stuffy, wealthy-looking couple in question. Pic: YouTube

The ad is bang on and sells travel the way it should – memorably, with passion, emotion and humour.

Working in travel, we are truly blessed in that most people look to us to know everything about the world and just where to find the ‘best deals, the best places to go and who to fly with/stay with’ etc.

Let’s face it – It makes us pretty popular at parties and family gatherings in general.

This ‘legend of travel’ positioning can though, of course, be a curse too sometimes with some ‘friends’ often asking if you can get them an upgrade, a ‘cheap’ ticket or worse, a free holiday.

But overall, the mystique and wonder of travel is almost always a topic of keen interest that people are keen to explore further.

Don't even talk to me about booking online.

Don’t even talk to me about booking online.

“Ohh tell me more about working at the ATO. Said no-one ever at a party.”

“I recently booked online and its taken me three months to get my money back” is more likely to be something you might hear.

Which is exactly what I heard from two separate people that same evening at a recent dinner party I was attending.

Leaving out the boring bits to their stories (mostly all of the usual online complaints), both had been left high and dry after their money had been taken with no-one to speak to except an offshore call centre of which they had both called for weeks without any luck of getting any answers or a refund.

It was only when one of them went onto Social Media to kick up a fuss that the matter was resolved. The other, however, is still working on it.

“Why don’t you use a Travel Agent next time?” I suggested.

Their collective response was one of both confusion and amazement.


Hmm… What?

“Yeah” I continued, “They can usually get you much better deals, plus take care of your entire trip for you including all of the stuff you might forget like visas, transfers etc. Plus if anything goes wrong, you can have them sort it all out for you. Consider them kind of your ‘holiday’ Insurance policy (mins the actual policy the actual policy!” I finished.

“Oh” Came the response. “I’ve never thought of doing that.”

On the one hand, clearly as an industry we still have a major education job to do with the general public at a grassroots level.

And on the other? The moral here as an agent is, be passionate about telling your personal travel stories, be interested and interesting and most of all, be human.

Is this a story you’ve heard recently? Share your thoughts below.