“The world is changing in such unpredictable ways and will continue to become more and more unpredictable as we move through this century. All we can say with a fair amount of certainty is that the speed of change will become faster and faster—it is very unlikely to slow down” (Yunus 248).
We all know a lot of things have changed in the world in the past several decades and the travel industry is no exception. The internet brought on a new type of booking where consumers could easily cut out the middle man and go directly to the source themselves. Add into this the fact that airlines stopped paying commissions, which caused travel agents to start charging fees, and suddenly everyone has become a travel expert. If you can point and click, you can book travel. And that was before the world of tablets, smart phones and Apps. As Doreen Starke-Meyering pointed out in her article Meeting the Challenges of Globalization, “Morever, the globalization of professional communication as a service changes the circumstances (i.e., where, how, under what conditions, by whom, with whom, and for whom) under which the service will be produced”(469). We have embarked upon a do it yourself mentality in order to save a buck. But, are the savings really worth it?
I have had a lot of experience with online booking while working as a travel agent. While it was my job to book travel, it was also my job to assist our members in booking their own travel online. I can tell you, without a doubt, the best part about using a travel agent, fees and all, is that you have someone to cover your back when things go wrong. Many a phone call has come in on my line with an irate customer insisting “we” messed everything up, from misspelling a name, to entering the wrong date, to sending them to or from the wrong city. Upon further research into the matter, what did I find? “We” didn’t do anything. They had booked online and insisted that our computer system magically changed everything they input because they did it correctly and now it’s wrong. Well, guess what? “They” did it, so in this case, the customer is at fault. If they had called and we had booked it for them and something like this occurred, it would have then been the fault of the agency and the cost for corrections would have been on us. We definitely see Deborah Cameron’s point here when she advises, “The growth of expert systems in any domain tends to promote the attitude that knowledge acquired without expert support is somehow insufficient to meet contemporary standards…”(76).
I now pronounce you….MERGED
Yes, another way in which globalization has affected the travel industry is that many companies are merging together. There are rumors that by the time they are done, we will only have two airlines to choose from. Already we have lost big name companies such as Continental Airlines, TWA and US Airways, which merged with American last year, and will cease using the name US Air sometime this year. The airlines that are remaining have also become extremely liberal with their frequent flyer programs, allowing you to fly almost any airline and still obtain your points.
Hotels have also began merging, although they usually keep their individual names, but they are quickly becoming one large corporation. Before long, people may be able to book all their hotel needs in one easy phone call.
TRAVEL IN COMFORT
Some people may think that traveling in comfort has increased with globalization and they are right. With fully reclining seats for overseas flights, business class, and comfort economy, the airlines now have a lot more to offer, but you’re certainly going to pay for it. In fact, some of the smaller airlines charge for absolutely everything, from your seat assignment, to your baggage, to your refreshments. The only thing they haven’t started charging for yet, is the use of the lavatory, but you never know what the future may hold.
Even with the name brand airlines, the days of in-flight meals and movies have become a thing of the past. You can purchase a meal, yeah, because that’s a feast you want to pay extra for, and you can always swipe your credit card on the tiny screen in front of you in order to watch TV while you fly, but you’re no longer getting a movie as part of your flying experience. For now most airlines do offer WIFI with the cost of your ticket, but that too could always change.
As early as 2000, the airline industry worked a whole lot different. The further in advance you purchased your ticket, the better price you got. Now things are different. Most airlines offer First Class, Business Class and Economy. First Class is an amazing “POD” experience where you are treated like royalty and have plenty of space as well as free dining options. Business Class offers more leg room so you have a little more space to stretch out. And then there’s Economy Class, where you will squeeze your body in among two to three other passengers, also trying to squeeze their bodies into a tiny seat on a tiny row, and BONUS, you now get to suck in and fasten that entirely too small seat belt, for the duration of your trip. I think people get up to use the lavatory as an excuse to breathe easy until they are once again seated and strapped in, as if you need it. In case of a crash, you are already wedged in so tight with your seat mates, that you’re not going anywhere. There are actually people out there who pay full price for an extra seat, just so they can have some elbow room.
Finally, the staycation has become increasingly popular, not only because it keeps travelers in their own territory, but also because of the costs of traveling these days. Unless you’re not particular about where you stay, and you should be with the recent onset of bed bugs picked up in hotels, finding a hotel under $89 per night is next to impossible. And that’s for 2 adults. Most hotels do allow children to stay free, but all adults are charged an additional $10 per person, usually to offset the cost of the free breakfast, because we all know that waffle and boiled egg is worth $10 per person. Add onto that the cost of airline tickets and/or rental car fees and it’s already cost you $3,000 for a one week vacation somewhere and you haven’t even bought attraction tickets yet. With a staycation, people are learning to play tourist in their own hometown. They get to drive their own cars and sleep in their own beds, so they can now afford to do things you never do because you live there and you can do “that” anytime. For instance, I lived in Nashville, TN for 5 years, but I never went to the Grand Ole Opry. Why? Because it was there and I lived there, and I could go anytime. I lived in Glendale, AZ for four years and never seen the Grand Canyon. Why? You guessed it, because I could go there anytime. There’s a lot to be said for the staycation. If you don’t know of anything exciting nearby, stop by your local visitor’s center or the Chamber of Commerce. There could be things nearby you never even knew about.
In the world of blogging and travel writing, globalization applies most to remembering your audience, and when you’re publishing online, that could be just about anyone. So, you have to be cautious that your word choices are not only applicable, but also are inoffensive. It’s far too easy to forget about diversity when you’re writing, especially if you have a natural talent for it, like I do. I don’t have to think a lot about what I write, I just grab a keyboard and the words and images come pouring forth. In cases such as this, you may have to take a step back and make sure you are using your skills to the best of your abilities. And of course, it’s not only words to be careful of. It’s a combination of words, images, colors and fonts you choose to add to your text.
So, has globalization affected travel? You bet it has. But, that doesn’t mean that people have stopped traveling. They have just started traveling in a new way. With all of the changes, travel and tourism is still one of the leading industries in the world. Ever since 9/11, people have begun to understand that life is short, and family time is important, so more and more people are scheduling family vacations each year. Some go to the top international destinations, some travel domestically and some spend their vacations a little closer to home. But, the point is, they are all taking vacations.