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When Did Travel Become a Commodity?

When Did Travel Become a Commodity?

When did it stop being an experience and more of a package, a deal, a search result?

Travel has turned into an obsession for the cheapest airfare, cheapest hotel room and pretty much the lowest, cheapest  cost for anything and every thing related to travel.

Wasn’t so long ago that airlines, the most “commodified” of the travel experience, were sufficiently different from each other that you could them apart. There were differences in food served, space between rows of seats, service, in-flight amenities.

Not any longer.
In their drive for quarterly profits, says veteran business traveler, Bruce Schoenfeld, airlines have sacrificed building long-term customer loyalty.

Writing in Entrepreneur Magazine Schoenfeld said that maximizing profits has been the driving force behind the airlines’ raison d’être for so long, it has “become integrated into their DNA.”

But the public is much to blame for the commodification of travel.
The public’s collective decision that price is just about the only thing that matters, allowed the airlines to discard amenities and courtesies, and concentrate solely on price, and become  indistinguishable from each other.

But there still may be one service that makes one airline preferable over another, especially during play-offs: live television, or more generally, in-flight entertainment systems. Technology

But if technology, not the food or the service or the reliability, is the last remaining differentiator among the look-alike and fly-alike airlines of today, that’s pretty sad.

Enjoy the difference while you can.


About Kaleel


  1. Great point, and I think that the commodification of travel runs much much deeper – even from the consumer perspective. Now that it’s so easy to physically travel almost anywhere on the planet, the idea of “traveling somewhere” seems to mean “seeing something” to most people. While it’s easy to sell the idea of “seeing” a new place for the first time, it doesn’t even begin to hit upon the essence of traveling as an adventure, as an unknown. I worry that access has given us a new type of barrier to traveling as it used to be.

    • Exceptionally insightful comment. Would you mind if I Tweeted the idea that “seeing a new place for the first time doesn’t even begin to hit upon the essence of traveling as an adventure, as an unknown.”? It’s a terrific observation

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