In whom we trust?
Yeoh Siew Hoon
Tuesday, 7th November 2006
YSH walks away from Wired Travel Asia with one conclusion – the travel industry is facing a crisis of trust. We don't know who to trust anymore when we are buying our travel.

Once upon a time, it seemed that life was so simple.

Jim Donnelly (left standing), founder of IgoUgo: Can we trust the Matrix?

We obeyed our parents, we listened to our teachers and we were afraid of the policeman. When we started working, we trusted our bosses. We believed they knew more than we did and that they would look after our interests.

We trusted our doctors when we fell sick. We trusted our governments to look after us. We believed journalists. Heck, we even trusted lawyers and travel agents, believing they were the experts at what they did.

Today, we don't know who to trust anymore.

We've learnt that our parents can be as flawed as us. We don't know who is lying or telling the truth in our governments and institutions. For sure, we don't trust the boss anymore because we've found out that sometimes he doesn't even know if he will have a job tomorrow.

We wonder who to believe – journalists or bloggers? We think we know more than our doctors and lawyers. And for sure, we know we know more than our travel agents.

Or do we trust Timothy O'Neil-Dunne, managing partner of T2 Impact (pictured right), as he rocked the audience with his trends?

Heck, we don't even trust ourselves these days. Play a quiz at a party and everyone will be reaching out for their gadgets to tell them the answer. No thinking required, googling permitted.

But can we really trust Google? Sure, you type in the word "love" and you get 1,410,000,000 searches but will you find the answer to true love within? Drill deeper and you'll find most of the links go to someone trying to sell you something – a matchmaking service or a sexual aid.

What about Wikipedia? Can we trust it fully? No, because it's user generated content and it's self-policing which means that if someone gets it wrong and nobody corrects it, that untruth can be perpetuated till it becomes truth.

And as I sat through two days of presentations at Wired Travel Asia last week and I listened to speaker after speaker share their insights into the online travel space, I realized that we too have a crisis of trust on our hands.

We just don't know who to trust anymore when we are buying our travel.

Can we be sure when we go to a hotel branded website that we will get the best deals? No, so we go to a retail website like Zuji or Expedia – but do they have the best deals? Probably not, so we move to last minute or specialist sites like Wotif or asiarooms.

Can we trust the travel metasearch portals like Bezurk, Qunar or Fare.Net to scour the web for the best air fares for us? No, because their searches are only as good as what the suppliers will give them …

So we go to the airline and hotel branded websites but then our choice becomes limited to one company …

So where do we go? The traditional travel agent? But is he the expert because more often than not, you know more than he does because you've done your homework and he hasn't because well, he's not the one travelling, you are.

Or should we trust the little children who brought the conference theme "Inspiration, Innovation, Imagination" alive with their canvases?

Then there's travel reviews. Word-of-mouth has always been the most powerful tool for businesses but today, that medium has taken on a whole new meaning with the proliferation of social networking sites where everyone is sharing their views on everything.

So which reviews can we trust? The ones contained in social networking sites like Trip Advisor or IgoUgo, written by people we don't know or the ones contained in blogs written by people we don't know either? Or the ones written by travel writers who you suspect have been wined and dined into a state of consensual adulation?

We've learnt how easy it is to be hoodwinked in cyberspace – the Lonely Girl on YouTube who wasn't, for example.

So who can you trust? I don't have the answers but what I do know is travel companies who know how to build trust in today's age of information confusion and experts unlimited will be the ones that flourish.

As Anthony Venus shared with us in his presentation on "Trust-based commitment: The role of emotional and rational connection in customer relationships", if your customers trust you, they will stick to you, champion you and forgive you your mistakes.

It's like friendship, really. Friends that trust you, love you, warts and all. You don't need Google to tell you that.

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection".

She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460

Yeoh Siew Hoon's other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.
...[Click for More]
 Latest News  (Click title to read article)

 Latest Articles  (Click title to read)

 Most Read Articles  (Click title to read)

~ Important Notice ~
Articles appearing on 4Hoteliers contain copyright material. They are meant for your personal use and may not be reproduced or redistributed. While 4Hoteliers makes every effort to ensure accuracy, we can not be held responsible for the content nor the views expressed, which may not necessarily be those of either the original author or 4Hoteliers or its agents.
© Copyright 4Hoteliers 2001-2024 ~ unless stated otherwise, all rights reserved.
You can read more about 4Hoteliers and our company here
Use of this web site is subject to our
terms & conditions of service and privacy policy