Do you love the digital age? When you travel do you really need a paper ticket? Of course you don’t…… so why oh why do I always carry paper on me when I travel.
I print a copy of my e-ticket (doesn’t that sound stupid?) and I also print a copy of my insurance policy and of course a copy of my hotel reservation. Poor trees – I know I am not helping BUT I have also been in the situation when I have arrived at a hotel and have given them my name so they pull up my reservation. Instead of having to quiz them on whether or not I have the breakfast included or the fact that I have pre-paid I just produce the piece of paper that shows that I paid in advance or I had a special request on file. Just think about it – the power of paper is still there. The difference between showing the check in clerk a digital copy of your reservation on your phone vs. showing him a print out. It’s way more powerful. BUT … I do need to change my ways.
Daily I get bombarded with offers of a new technology that will enable my clients to travel the world paperless! Hah! Good luck with that. I am not sure that will ever happen. Yes it sounds wonderful – just enter all the information of your client’s travel into the app and send them the link. Would that be a let-down? After working for months on a customised 18 day itinerary with hotels, tours and trains would a link in an email diminish our work and their excitement?
Then there is the tangible aspect to consider. You just booked a luxury cruise – let’s say it cost you $30.000 for you and your wife. Now don’t faint…. I did say luxury. Don’t you want more than an internet link to your booking. Of course you do! You want the special folder with the cruise line logo – you want a printed itinerary – you might even want the fancy luggage tag. We did have this situation when someone came in to pick up their documents and the cruise line had told us “Oh everything is electronic these days – e-tickets you know – it’s the new thing”. So we printed out the tickets for the client. It was the least we could do. He comes in and looks at the envelope and says “So is this all I get for $30.000?”
Having said that I recently did a clean up at home – I am going through a purge – a declutter if you like. Going for the stress-free minimalist thing. I came across seven or eight travel wallets and luggage tags – used once – never to be again. What a waste!
You see part of travel – sometimes the best part – is the anticipation. The months of planning that takes place, the research, the chatting with friends about this tour or that cruise and what they thought. It’s a big thing – but it’s fun. (That’s why we love our job!). So yes – when you come to pick up your tickets you want something “real” – not an app.
Don’t get me wrong – e-tickets have helped a lot. Back in the good old bad old days when we used to issue paper tickets it was a process. If the printer was down then you wrote out the tickets. Horrible red carbon paper and 4 copies of everything and God forbid you tore out the wrong sheet – then your passengers were going to have a hell of a time at the airport – because we know how flexible airlines can be 🙂
But let’s also be careful about when we use paper – while I believe it is important for clients to have a printed ticket is it really necessary to have so many pieces of junk mail go through our postal system every day. It just gets dumped. Hopefully into the recycling bin. I have had people come into my office angrily demanding that I stop sending them these bulky cruise brochures. Honestly – it’s not me! I can’t imagine a bigger waste of paper or money. I guess the only one that benefits is Canada Post. Can you believe the paper industry is growing at an amazing rate. Just look it up with Mr Google. Sales in the US of billions and billions of dollars. This is a good industry to be in.
David Unger sums it up really well in a good article with this extract –
“And then there’s tissue. It may not be the first thing we think of when we think of paper, but Big Paper is indeed very much in the business of selling toilet paper, facial tissue, paper towels and “feminine products” – and business is good. You can’t blow your nose into an email. In the end, we are material. We have inputs and outputs. We require physical receptacles. And more of us are on the way. RISI foresees a 3% annual rise in global tissue demand through 2018, and a 1.4% rise in global paper demand overall.”
The answer might be (in our industry at least) to just ask the question – “Would you like a paper ticket or an e-ticket.” If they say e-ticket just close your eyes and listen hard – you will hear the rain forests whispering …… “Thank you”