My daughter recently asked me what a Travel Agency does. There is one located on our street and it has just been completely renovated. I told her that they helped people book their trips and vacations. “Why haven’t we ever been in there?” she wanted to know. “Because we do everything ourselves online these days” I explained. “But why do it yourself if other people want to do it for you?” she wondered out loud.
The answer is that the travel agency makes a little bit of money on each ticket you book through them. If you book your ticket yourself, online, you save that money. Saving money sounds great except that when you think about it you typically spend three evenings comparing prices to end up saving €30 on a €300 trip. All those €30 discounts add up of course so I guess we should be happy with that.
Still, how bad is it really to pay someone €30 and trust them to buy you something decent? Wouldn’t you say your free evenings are worth more than €10 a piece?
Consider books for a moment. Buying your book at Amazon saves you maybe 30% to 40% on each book. Add to that the convenience of shopping from home and getting the package delivered to your home address. So far so good.
Unfortunately that does mean you spend way too much time browsing Amazon.com while you could do something fun instead. Like maybe reading an actual book?
Then the package arrives and you aren’t home and end up having to pick it up at the local post-office. All in all I wonder how much time I end up investing in the whole process.
Time sounds free, but to most of us, it is more valuable than money.
The Internet Economy promised to get rid of the middle-men and we loved it. Somehow, I’m starting to get the feeling that we ourselves ended up doing the work of that middle-men we were so eager to get rid off.
In any project you can always pick two of these: fast, cheap or good. We seem to have focused a lot on ‘cheap’ and ‘good’ but the extra time we need to invest to also keep it ‘fast’ comes out of our own pockets.
You can always make more money but you can never make more time.