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I consider that I would fall into the budget traveller category. I’m not afraid to shop around in order to find the best fares, and for most trips I have endless tabs open as I compare the offers on airline, rail and car rental websites as well as a variety of metasearch pages. The vast majority of travellers, and particularly my fellow budget companions, will know that this is a lengthy process. And the more complex the trip, the lengthier it becomes, as you need to search individually for connecting stages of the journey, trying to keep the map of timetables, destinations, and alternative methods of travelling (plane, rail, ferry, car or bus?) fresh in your mind.
Often it’s a trade-off. Do I prefer to save money and experience that dreaded 8-hour connection between flights? Is that cheaper crack-of-dawn departure worthwhile, when taking into account the extra I will spend on an early morning taxi, plus what value do I place on my lost hours of sleep? In today’s connectedworld, travellers are fortunate in the sense that there is normally a myriad of ways we could reach our destination, with a wide offer catering for each of our personal preferences.
A trip I recently took from Madrid to Corsica is a good example of such a journey. There are several ways I could have reached my destination, involving plane, ferry and rail, with different connecting cities or airports depending on the route I chose. I experienced a bit of a headache one Sunday night whilst going through all the different options, with many websites open and a lot of information to take in at once.
For these types of trips, there is always a last-minute panic when pressing that “Buy” button. Would another half an hour of searching find a cheaper, easier route? Yet, on the other hand, that hesitation could in fact cost you dear as the cheaper seat is no longer available (the dreaded message “1 seat left at this price” is never good for the nerves). In my opinion, travel shopping is not for the light-hearted.
Eventually, I settled on two connecting flights. My holiday was a short four day trip, and this was the quickest option whilst remaining economically viable. I flew first to Nice, and then to Ajaccio. The journey was a pleasant one. No major pain points or travel stress. A friend had tipped me off in advance with some good advice that my flights may be leaving from different terminals at Nice airport – key information to keep my journey a smooth one as in my case they did.
All in all, I was pleased with my travel experience. Yet, taking all things into consideration, I wondered once I was back home whether there could have been an easier way to reach my destination, whilst receiving a better, more personalised service along the way. If I had booked through a travel agency, I would have saved myself several hours of travel-offer comparisons and stress, safe in the knowledge that an expert was evaluating the best possible route on my behalf. I could also have been alerted in advance to potential pain points, such as the terminal change at Nice airport, without having to search myself for timetables and information online. In addition, it may have been easier to make a decision concerning ancillary services or fare family options that fitted with my travel preferences, without the pressure of speeding through the buying process before the fares might change.
The question is: would I have been willing to pay the extra for that improved, personalised service? Well, you never know unless you try it first. For my next complex trip, I will definitely be checking out the travel agency offer, both online and offline, in order to consider all the options available – even for the low-cost traveller.
Editor’s note: We asked Amadeus employees to share their travel experiences and thoughts on personalised, connected and sustainable travel. You can check out all their responses in the Summer blogs tag page.