AUSTIN -- Technology basically killed the travel agent business. Most of us book trips online all by ourselves. But could technology now be responsible for bringing travel agents back?
A pick-me-up, a wind-me-down, a virtual escape, or the real thing, Departure Lounge fits all.
"It's a very social, interactive, high tech, visual space that's fun and we use our food and beverage to help you get a taste of a place before you go there," said owner Keith Waldon
This hip living room, slash lounge at the corner of 5th Street and Guadalupe in downtown Austin is a brand new concept, hoping to breathe new life into the fading service of travel agents.
"I wanted to use technology to quickly get to know somebody in a non-obtrusive way," said Waldon who spent 25 years in the luxury travel business and watched the internet make agents irrelevant. So he developed technology that he married with creature comforts hoping to reverse the trend.
Using his background in travel and statistics Waldon created the travel persona visual survey which you take on touch-screen TV's at Departure Lounge.
"We get to know you as far as where you've been, where you would like to go, and the style of traveler that you are. If you like backpacking or you like educational trips or you like snow trips you pick the ones that you want. We use the technology to get all those human factors and then we make recommendations based on that. "
The technology breaks each person into one of four traveler types; the carefree spirit, the cultural connoisseur, the soulful revitalizer, and the natural adventurer. Travel advisors are on hand to give you options and even book a trip if you want.
But at Departure Lounge there's no pressure to go anywhere. "Between what you can see on our 46 inch screens, and our coffees and our wines and our chocolates and our pastries, we transport you to destinations before you go," said Waldon.
Or you can simply grab a coffee or wine and take a mental vacation.