Whether it's booking hotels or apartments or flights, it's become so easy for anyone to do so with confidence and the customer is really in control.
Flying over the land of the long white cloud on my way to Queenstown, I had a chance to reflect on the booking journey that got me on this Air New Zealand A320 flight from Auckland this afternoon (November 4).
And I can't help thinking how easy it is for anyone to book travel these days once you know what you're looking for. It really has become about me.com as travellers get more empowered to plan and book their travels on the web.
What I wanted this time was to stay put in one place for a while and because I am travelling with a first-timer to New Zealand, I decided on Queenstown as a good base. I hadn't been for a couple of years.
I asked a friend whom I trusted (no, not on Facebook but on WhatsApp) – she's a regular visitor to Queenstown and we have pretty similar tastes – for a recommendation on where to stay. I didn't want a hotel, but an apartment.
She came back instantly with a couple of places. I went online to booking.com and hotels.com and checked prices for The Rees. Both sites displayed similar rates for what I had in mind. I chose to book on hotels.com because I wanted to check out their Welcome Rewards scheme. The booking was painless and my points were instantly credited to my account.
I then googled flights from Auckland to Queenstown and checked webjet.co.nz for best fares. Jetstar showed the best fares and so I went to their website, found the flights I wanted and proceeded booking.
But the process was tedious – different fares, too many steps and each step asking me if I wanted to add this or add that, with conditions at every stage I felt I had to read so that I'd know what I was getting myself into. By the time it got to the baggage part, I gave up – I couldn't decide at this stage how much baggage I'd have and needed – and by the time I added it all up, it was showing almost S$500 for two tickets.
I decided to switch to Air New Zealand, found two types of fares on offer which included everything (baggage, ability to change, etc) and decided to book right away. Couple of steps and I was done – it cost more than Jetstar – but I didn't mind paying for the simpler experience.
This is where low cost airlines have to be careful – I think customer fatigue among customers will set in as they try and squeeze ancillary revenues from travellers at every stage.