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Letter from Madrid: Humans Must Do What Technology Cannot.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Wednesday, 12th July 2017
 

We arrived in Madrid on a Sunday, the last day of the Gay Pride weekend in which we were told two million people descended on the city, Across from the Westin Palace, a protest was being staged.

The hotel doorman shrugged his shoulders when I asked what they were protesting about. “Happens all the time,” he said.

A protest in Madrid on the day we arrived.

Madrid is a city as old as time, perhaps that’s why not much fazes its people who’ve been through so much turmoil and turbulence in their centuries of history. Indeed Spain is full of cities that are as old as time. In Toledo, the medieval city an hour outside Madrid, they are excavating archaeological remains dating back to 2,000 BC.

Before Madrid, we stopped over in Salamanca, the city famous for its university where Christopher Columbus studied and the first woman in the world, Beatriz Galindo, was admitted in 1495.

Salamanca was the first land stop after our seven-day Duoro River cruise with Uniworld. On our last night onboard Queen Isabel, we slept on the Spanish side of the river at Vega de Terron and then hopped on the coach to Madrid for the post-cruise excursion.

The university of Salamanca where Christopher Columbus was a scholar and it’s where most foreign students come to learn Portuguese

It’s been interesting and eye-opening, this first river cruise and I dare say my first ever group holiday with strangers. It’s not something I ever contemplated doing " after all, for the past 12 years and more, I’ve been writing about how technology has changed travel and how it’s empowered people to travel more freely and independently, plan and book their trips and discover places for themselves.

But now that I’ve done it, I can understand its appeal and why there’s still a huge segment of travellers who continue to book holiday packages and use travel agents. In fact in Asia, from Japan to Indonesia, it remains the bulk of the market and what this experience has reiterated for me is the power of the human touch.

It can never be replaced by technology but can be enhanced by it, if travel agents adapt and use it wisely to become better at what they do and add value to the traveller at every touchpoint.

Read the full story here.

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