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Craig Satterfield: The Cruise Scholar

We recently sat down with Craig Satterfield and spoke with him about his 4 decades in the travel industry, and about his book which was recently published.

Craig Satterfield has been in the travel industry for nearly 40 years. His experience has included owning his own business, managing a franchise, and also as an employee. Currently Craig is an employee for two different cruise agencies, Sure Cruise and Cruise Travel Outlet. In the 1970’s, Craig started one of the first five cruise-only agencies. At that time other travel agents told him he wasn’t a legitimate travel agent if he wasn’t writing airline tickets. Many of those agencies went out of business years later when the airlines stopped paying commissions and the agencies didn’t adapt.

Although Craig is more than happy to help his clients with any type of travel, his true niche is cruises. When CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) started their cruise accreditation program, Craig worked his way through the program levels eventually, becoming an Elite Cruise Counselor Scholar. (Note that currently CLIA is not offering the Scholar level at this time)

Over the past 4 decades, Craig has accumulated plenty of knowledge and experience selling cruises to clients across the country. He searched for a way to share his knowledge with other agents. Initially he wrote articles within the industry, but after some time decided to put everything into a book. That is how Confessions from a Cruise Scholar was born. It took Craig some time to get everyone down on paper, culminating in a 200-page, six-by-nine inch book published in January of this year.

Confessions from a Cruise Scholar was not written as a “how to become a travel agent” guide. Instead, Craig wrote it for those already in the industry. There are a lot of “how to” books out there, but Craig was not able to find anything like this geared to the existing travel agent. The book is formatted into 28 stand-alone chapters. Reading the book does not require starting on page one and reading in order to the end. If you want to read only chapter 18 (Has a Decent Commission on Cruises Gone out the Window?), you can. It is not contingent on reading any previous chapters.

We asked Craig for a couple of tips to share with other agents. His first was personal branding, which he feels is the most important thing we can do as travel agents. Even those (like him) that work as an employee for an agency, personal branding is a must. He strongly urges travel agents to use social media to build their brand, like posting short videos on YouTube. Travel agents can do videos about destinations, ship (or resort) reviews, how-to topics like how to pack, etc.

Craig also suggests not competing with the Internet, but instead creating unique packages and then selling them like crazy (by the way, he covers this topic in chapter 10 of his book).

If you would like to read Craig’s book you can purchase it in paperback or Kindle form at Amazon, or directly from Craig’s Cruise Scholar website and save $5 off the purchase price.


Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations, she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at susan@shipsntripstravel.com or by phone at (888) 221-1209.

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