For One

The other day I called a travel agent whom I was referred to. It’s something I probably won’t do again for a while. First of all, some people don’t know the first thing about customer service because this is how the first conversation went.

Me: “Hello?”
Lady who answered the phone: “Hello. Yes.”
“I was wondering if I could speak to somebody about booking a vacation package to Rome…”
“Yes, okay.”
“I was actually referred to you by Mr. So & So, but I’ve forgotten the name of the person he told me to speak to.”
“Okay, yes.”
“So…whom can I speak to?”
“Tell me, yes.”
So I repeated that I wanted to book a trip to Rome, flight plus hotel, etc.
She gave me the prices for the flight.
“So this is for just a flight?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Okay, see, I’m looking for a complete package…”
“Okay, yes, let me transfer you. Hold please.”

Then the man she transferred me to finally answered his line and said, “How can I help you?”
Finally! I thought. Someone who wants to help me! I repeated the information to him.
“And for how many people this is?”
“Just the one.”
“Yes, one.”
“Only one?”
“Yes, just one person, please.”
Momentary silence. Had he repeated it, I would’ve answered irritably. The silence lasted a little longer than necessary. Maybe he should’ve just asked again.

Secondly, does everything have to be done in twos? When you’re searching for hotels on the Internet, the boxes are auto-populated with “Rooms: 1, Adults: 2.” Every excellent deal I’ve seen on a “getaway package” is an excellent deal because it’s for two! If it’s not for two, then it’s for even larger groups of people. Have they forgotten that some people travel solo? Don’t they realise that solo travelers might like good deals too?! But somehow that little subsection of mankind remains overlooked. Now there’s a minority that needs some more catering to.

“How many days will you be there?”
“Let’s say…two weeks.”
“Two weeks in Rome?!”
“Yes, but I’ll make a few side trips, I guess. I mean–”
“So it’s two weeks?”
“Yes, two weeks, thank you.”
“I can go anytime in December, so if you could tell me what you could find the best deal for, that would be great!”
“You have to give me exact dates.”
“But…my dates are flexible.”
“I need exact dates.”
“But I want the best deal…”
“I need exact dates, please, if you want me to find anything for you.”
I gave him some dates I was considering.
“Okay, I will call you back.”
“Alright,” I said, hoping that he wouldn’t.

He didn’t call back. At least with the Internet, I can make my dates as flexible or as rigid as possible and it doesn’t complain. I don’t have to pointlessly argue with it or wonder where the conversation is going and I don’t have to think about whether I’m eventually going to be helped or if the time I just spent was worth it. It also doesn’t judge me for wanting to travel alone. That’s what I’ll use until my not-yet-begun quest for a good, understanding, non-judgemental, friendly, helpful, polite, awesome-deal-finding travel agent ends.


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