John McMahon, Executive Vice President/Group Publisher.
As this year’s election comes to an end, I vote for Americans to break away from their TVs and personal devices and try the real thing. We are now an economy that invests more time in watching than doing. We have 3D simulation, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and IBM’s Watson, a computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, that might now be the smartest “person” in the world.
The reliance on computers is growing. I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal that traditional stock picking has gone by the wayside; most major investors are working with computer programs that consume data in seconds and make investments based on data intelligence, rather than human intelligence. Even we, as individuals, are dependent on electronic data. Think about it; if your significant other or family member left you for a few days, you would probably miss them. But if you can’t find your smartphone for more than a few minutes, you freak out.
And yet, you, the travel advisor, continue to defy the trend toward artificial intelligence, and artificial relationships, with your human touch. Why do you continue to thrive? It’s simple. You are selling an emotion and a computer can’t comprehend that. When I’m in a restaurant, a good waiter who describes the food well and gives me good recommendations gets a better tip. That’s because they’ve connected with me emotionally and matched my appetite with the selections of the evening. That makes me feel good.
Think about it, your conversations with your clients are emotional; they jump from their likes and dislikes. In those moments, they are not grabbing for their phone or checking their e-mails. If you use these moments to your advantage, you are likely to get an instant buy-in. Remember, a vacation is just as important as finding that lost human emotional connection that a computer just can’t give you.