Would a £50 voucher encourage you to buy?

I saw a company offering a cash voucher for a department store in a recent travel industry newsletter. Sure it got my attention but when I thought about it, I realised that it would have been my own money that turned into the cash voucher because the travel agent would have taken less of a profit on my booking.

Where is the value?

With the knowledge that I could end up with a holiday and a voucher (that I wasn't assigning too much value to), I started researching the company and what they offered. Their website was no more than an online brochure which meant I would need to contact the call centre for accurate prices and go in to the store to make all my arrangements. The apotekwebshop.com value I assigned to my voucher was rapidly decreasing as the effort I had to go to in order to redeem this was just too much.

With the travel industry where it is today and where it is so quickly heading, vouchers and free gimmicks do not come close to the power of a web site that offers a completely bookable online solution. With more and more travellers opting to make their own arrangements from flights to holiday activities, promotions aimed to encourage customers to walk into stores is perhaps not money well spent.

Customers want to feel empowered

Low cost airlines, hoteliers and transfer websites are empowering travellers to make their own independent arrangements. We can now all become experts through the power of the web and many of us no longer have time or even place much value on chatting with our local travel agent and when we make a decision, we act fast and want to be able to control the outcome. Booking travel arrangements online at times that suit you is what's happening now.

Perhaps there is still life left in high street stores and whilst I can see the value of getting advice from a specialist, are the staff you find in the high street stores really specialists in the world where the Internet makes us all specialists?  Perhaps the rate at which the larger mass market tour operators are closing down their retail stores and their investment in the online channel is an indication of our desire for empowerment and need for online booking?

What do you think? Would a £50 cash voucher encourage you to make the effort to enquire and book in a retail store if you could book the same travel arrangements quickly and easily online or is it just an outdated gimmick?