Observing how travel behaviour has changed over the last few years made me wonder what I thought of the state of affairs. Then I pondered what it was that, despite the glory of travelling the world, still irks me. Or maybe it's just me becoming a grumpy old man.
Resort fees and other lame charges
The travel industry is insanely competitive. Hotels, restaurants and airlines alike are competing with hundreds of their peers so any marginal gain gives a significant upper hand.
Unfortunately the rise of ‘Resort fees' or ‘destination fees' are undoing all their hard work. In a deliberate ploy to jump to the top of online travel agency search results they are partly decoupling components of compulsory prices.
These are in effect much like fuel surcharges in airlines, but the trading standards regulators came down hard on airlines and said all prices must be displayed ‘all-inclusive'. For hotels this is strictly enforced in Europe (as Donald Trump found out with the full force of British ire) but still appears to be widespread practice in the United States.
Worse still, some places are coming up with other ‘creative' charges:
Transparency is key here. If guests feel like they cannot go ten steps without accidentally triggering another ‘incidental' charge then people will be voting with their feet. Coincidentally View From The Wing published an article about this yesterday which I recommend reading.
I really don't like tipping of any kind. I realise this will be extremely unpopular amongst the majority of my readers but I absolutely despise this practice. Staff are expensive parts of any business, and become even more expensive if they disappear and you have to go through the hiring and training processes. It would not surprise me in the least if waiters/waitresses jump ship the moment they realise their tip income could be increased in the restaurant down the road because you refuse to pay them more than $3/hr.
But from a consumer mindset the deliberate ambiguity over how much people ‘should' tip drives me made. Whether that is 0% or all the way up to 25%+ according to some acquaintances, the latter I still find hard to believe, adds annoying mental burden which I'd rather do without.
Worse still, Americans/Europeans forcing tips upon cultures where it is not expected just drives the prices for everyone else, and local residents don't like it!
Selfie takers and ‘influencers' who really don't care where they are
A selfie here or there is ok, nothing wrong with that. Non-stop selfies everywhere you go are pretty annoying, and risking your own safety for one justifies your nomination for the Darwin Awards should things go south.
Instagrammers, influencers, call them what you want. Those are the ones who obsess over how many likes or views they get rather than seeing the world beyond their smartphones. There are also those who stand bare-bottomed atop religious sites and pay the price.
Just be mindful, in every sense of the word please.
Airport, airline staff, and sometimes passengers, behaving badly
TSA, airport security or airline service role is a thankless job, and travelling is stressful for some. There are also the “Do you know who I am” (DYKWIA) people who do their best to provoke matters. When things don't go the way they should then emotions can boil over. Luckily there are some peacemakers out there.
If you're an infrequent traveller you probably don't know whether to put your liquids in the security tray or take your belt off before going through the metal detector. That's forgivable but passengers behind tutting and security agents shouting in their ear, as I regularly witness, is just unnecessary.
Passengers who complain at every tiny thing.
There are couple of different levels of complainers:
At one end are the passengers on low cost carriers who complain when they are charged for their airport-issued boarding pass, charged for plastic security bags, and this that or another. Read the ****ing terms and conditions before ticking the box!
At the other end are the premium passengers who complain that the champagne they are served is worth only £20, or how their Club Europe meal states a bit stale. While this does eat into the value proposition of business class significantly, I'm not sure there's enough there to publicly vent your dissatisfaction.
There are many genuine complaints you can make like bed bugs, running out of meals etc.I get that you pay a lot of money for it, but the best thing we can all do is to provide feedback direct to the institution (though be careful of IHG) and vote with your wallet.