Hands up, who has ever been in a situation, when you needed to make last-minute travel arrangements on the road, but comparing prices and making a booking on your phone was too inconvenient (damn you, tiny screen); or when the only available internet connection was way too slow to load those travel websites and apps – making your research equally frustrating as ineffective; or when you simply did not have the time to research, compare and evaluate all the options yourself. Well, then you wish you had a knowledgable travel agent at your finger tips who can just figure it out for you.

We recently stumbled upon a new service called Mission Control and thought we’d give it a shot. We wanted to see just how useful it could be for frequent travelers like ourselves. Mission Control is a text message based travel assistant service which connects any traveler with a pool of travel experts, airline ground staff or experienced travel journalists to help them out with any travel-related problem they might have. Need to change your flight next week from some remote airport in Brazil? Making an unexpected stop in a foreign city and need a hotel booking asap? What’s the best restaurant for a spontaneous business lunch in London today and how can you book a table? We wanted to find out if the concierges at Mission Control could help with these problems.

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What can Mission Control do for you?

Among the most prominent services that Mission Control offers, is booking flights, hotels and other transportation, like rental cars, trains or buses. They can also help you out with changing reservations and tickets, choosing seats or ordering special meals on board, arranging taxis or private transfers, or locating lost luggage, dealing with issues at booked hotels or with missed flights. So, basically anything a travel agent could do for you.

Now, you might ask – if the internet made all these things so easy to do yourself, why would I use this service? The answer is easy: convenience, cost and time management. With Mission Control you have a personal union of a travel agent and a personal assistant at your finger tips, instead of super expensive roaming calls or dependence on fast internet connection, all you need to do is send a text. For me that was reason enough, to save some time and energy this weekend and assign some tasks to my new assistant Carl.

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How does Mission Control work?

All you need to do is sign up with your name and email address, wait for a confirmation email to land in your inbox and text the 4 digit code from the email to one of Mission Control’s numbers. There is a German and a British number (country code +49 or +44). It took about 20 minutes until a travel expert named Carl reached out to me and asked me how he could help me. With friendly and personal responses I immediately felt in good hands – as I am extremely suspicious of people who don’t use emoticons in their text messages, I appreciated Carl’s use of a smiley in one of his first messages even more. So far, so good – time to assign Carl task number one:

‘I’d need two train tickets from Glasgow to London on Dec 5, returning on the 7th. Can you find the cheapest option for me please?’

It took Carl about an hour to come back to me with options, but I can actually blame that on myself – because I had asked for ‘the cheapest option’ Carl told me it had taken him a while to compare all prizes and options. He found out that flying would actually be a lot cheaper. Set on taking the train across beautiful England though, I told him that flying was not an option for us. From then on, Carl responded within one, two, three minutes – with new train times, information on payment options, seat preferences and so on. When I told him my main aim of the trip (birthday celebrations and shopping) he even suggested to take a later, yet more expensive return train as it would allow ‘more time for shopping’. Of course, I immediately fell in love with him then and there. A few texts later – by the way, completely free on my mobile plan and free of charge from Mission Control’s side – Carl provided me with a secure payment link for which I only needed low-bandwidth internet connection to finalise my booking. I entered my card details and boom, the train tickets were booked. (The e-tickets didn’t pop up in my inbox immediately, so I asked Carl a few hours later about them and he sent them to me within minutes – thumbs up for the 24/7 service!)

Although we had our accommodation in London already figured out, I gave Carl another task: find me a nice hotel for less than £150 per night per room, somewhere in central London so that the high streets and iconic landmarks of London are close by. A few minutes later, Carl had sent me three options of 4-star hotels, including links which led me to images, ratings and descriptions.

Finally, I wanted to know how much local knowledge Carl could impress me with. Task number three was therefore a question for restaurant recommendations in Glasgow, the very city I live in and where I love to go out for food:

‘I’d need a nice restaurant in Glasgow for a birthday dinner next weekend – preferably some sort of Asian food.’

As soon as he had my made-up specifics (preferred cuisine, number of people, budget and date) Carl took about 20 minutes to hit me up with three recommendations. I knew, this was where it could get hairy, because it’s easy to work booking and search engines, but hit the spot with restaurant recommendations in a foreign city? – That’s a tough one. My doubts were unnecessary though, as the places Carl came up with were a South-Indian restaurant I had wanted to try for ages, a Japanese restaurant where we indulged in the best sushi ever less than a week ago, and a place I had admittedly never heard of before, but sounds so interesting, I definitely need to try it soon. Well done, Carl! Maybe I’ll ask him to book a table for me and my boyfriend soon!

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What does Mission Control cost?

For now, the service is totally free of charge. Until October 31 you even get a €10 discount on your first booking. After November there will be a monthly subscription fee for using the service, easy to cancel on a monthly basis. So you can subscribe just for the holiday season or the whole year if you are heavy traveller.

Who uses Mission Control?

I don’t think that Mission Control is specifically aimed at backpackers, nor is it particularly suited for people who like to plan everything ages in advance – in both cases travellers usually like taking their time to research best deals and plan schedules. When I do think it comes in super handy, is, if you’re either too busy or too uninspired to dig through tons of results in flight and hotel search engines yourself, or if you just want somebody else to take care of things for once, or if there is a surprising last-minute trip to organise. I, for example, had promised my boyfriend to book these train tickets this weekend, but I was so occupied with writing the new Travelettes newsletter and drinking red wine with my flatmate, that it was so much more convenient to just ask Mission Control to do it for me. The service seems particularly useful for frequent travellers who could need a personal travel assistant to handle their schedules, reservations and bookings for them, or freelancers who already have enough on their plates.

Carl’s recommendations for Glasgow restaurants, but also my quick background check on train tickets proved that he indeed found the cheapest and best options for me. At Mission Control you get help from people who know all the hacks and tricks – no need for you to play the time-intense game of incognito windows, search engine hacks and so on yourself.

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Verdict

I certainly enjoyed trying the service of Mission Control. My travel assistant Carl was super friendly and helpful. He took every little detail I fed him into consideration and gave me options and solutions that I would have expected from somebody who I had met personally at least once. Using Mission Control to book by tickets was quick and simple. I saved time and energy, not having to shop around different websites myself or filling in details in booking systems myself. I think the only downside I noticed was that you need a credit card for payment (I would have preferred to use my debit card), but overall I don’t think booking transport was ever so stress-free.

If you want to give Mission Control a go yourself, you can sign up on their website right here! Happy delegating-booking-flights-and-hotels!

 

 

Disclaimer: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Mission Control.

All photos via Joachim Wagner.