OTA’s Can Not Replace Human Touch of Travel

January 26, 2024

The human touch of travel is a challenge with rising online travel agents. This article shows 5 solid reasons that the human touch of travel cannot be replaced.


As a tour designer who handles direct enquiries from holidaymakers from all around the world, I face a huge challenge of beating out OTA’s that sell cheap travel packages without knowing anything about the destination. This article is about the reasons why human touch of travel cannot be replaced with robots during the era of online systems taking over most of the commercial activities of the world.

I agree the fact that OTAs are becoming a huge challenge to traditional travel agencies especially among the travel & tourism tech innovations at a higher level and growing faster. But my argument is that Human Touch of Travel will not be replaced but the value of the position will be enhanced by the tech disruption happening in the industry.

These are some points to prove that the human touch of tailor-made holiday designs are not going to be erased until artificial intelligence (AI) machines can fully replace humans.

1. Paintings did not replace the camera

There is a famous saying that once the camera is invented, paintings will no longer be valid in art. But did it happen? What happened was artistic paintings took a different artistic formation where the pictures from a camera cannot be replaced. The value of the paintings was increased while some areas covered by paintings were replaced by the camera, because of that the value of the human touch has increased in drawings.

2. ‎The human touch of production is replaced but the value of human touch has gone up.

Wherever human engagement is replaced by technology has increased the value of the human touch while adding a premium value to the product. If you need a custom-made product, human touch is essential. If you are a person who enjoys the same product which has been produced in a factory with thousands of identical products, you might not need the human touch. But if you need something unique and carefully matched with your specific requirements, you need the human touch to customize your product. For example, handmade cars to handmade jewellery or handmade clothes have a premium value. Likewise, tailor-made holidays will become a premium product in the travel industry soon.

3. ‎Culture can not be replaced by experience-sharing

One of the most interesting changes in the travel and tourism sector in the recent past is travellers are eager to experience the local culture. Experience is not merely visiting a place but living it. This is not a novel concept but the benchmark that changes the traditional method from travelling to visit sites to get a life experience. User-generated content or any ready-made packages cannot provide the real experience the person needs unless it is provided by an experienced human being. That is human touch of travel is filling the gap of the industry.

4. ‎Professional knowledge can not be replaced by general knowledge

User-generated travel reviews are guiding methods used by online travel agents. There may not be any human touch until the client comes to the specific destination. But can we always depend on user-generated content? Then Wikipedia must have replaced all the professions even including medicine, engineering or nuclear science. Likewise, thorough professional knowledge about a destination, accommodation or excursions cannot be replaced by reviews; probably they can guide the holidaymakers. But when it comes to decision-making, anyone who is eagerly waiting for a holiday might not be willing to risk their plans by depending on unfiltered sets of ideas rather than professionals who design tailor-made holidays.

5. ‎Human touch can not be replaced by a robot

Finally, there is a limit to technology. Of course, some hard labour work accomplished by humans can be replaced by technology. But using the knowledge in any industry will not be able to replace the human in the near future. Likewise, traditional holiday package selling will be easily overtaken by OTAs shortly. Lack of creativity in the industry will make a chaos to the traditional mass sellers who are trying to beat the market only by prices. But the human touch in the travel and tourism industry will not only be replaced but the value also will grow up in future.

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