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Marketplace

Travelers irked by Web travel sites fees

Dan Grech Aug 4, 2009
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Kai Ryssdal: We’ve all been there. You want to book a flight, so you spend hours online sifting through all the different options. Hours. Once you get by all the ads for tour packages and rental cars and find the flights you want, you discover you’ve been hit by hidden fees. Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports that people are getting so fed up with travel Web sites, they’re turning back to the trusty travel agent.


DAN GRECH: The survey, conducted by Forrester Research, found just one in three people believes travel Web sites do a good job. That’s down significantly from one year ago.

HENRY HARTEVELDT: You don’t want to anger one out of three customers, especially in a recession.

That’s Henry Harteveldt, the study’s author.

HARTEVELDT: The travel industry fiddled while Rome burned. They failed to take advantage of the boom times and the profits they made and reinvest those in better Web sites. Now they pay the price.

The survey found 26 percent of travelers would be willing to try a bricks and mortar agent, up from 23 percent a year ago. Alex Trettin runs Travel Leaders, an agency in Tacoma, Wash. He says he charges a fee, but saves people time and money.

ALEX TRETTIN: What I do is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, live, breathe and love travel. And so, I’m probably going to be better at planning your vacation than you are.

Would-be travelers say they’re frustrated with extra fees that pop-up online and the confusing array of choices for flights and hotels. Michael Going is president of Funjet Vacations, a company that bundles travel packages. He says despite the frustrations, online travel won’t disappear.

MICHAEL GOING: Smart companies, big companies, successful companies, they’ll make the technological investments and evolve to be more user friendly. But so will travel agents.

He says agents increasingly are using their own Web sites to lure in passengers, and then convince them it’s easier to use an agent.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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