An Interview with Lee Robinson, Vice President of Field Sales at Princess and Cunard | TravelResearchOnline


An Interview with Lee Robinson, Vice President of Field Sales at Princess and Cunard


PictureNo, he’s not a twin, but Lee Robinson does hold twin responsibilities, being the Vice President of Field Sales at both Princess and Cunard Cruise Lines.  His business card is double sided as well.  Wonder how he has time for his hobbies of golf and gardening?

TRO:  How did you get started in the industry?

LR:    Many years ago, I worked for Holland America, managing hotels in Alaska, and working with the tour buses.

TRO:  Princess has come a long way since the Love Boat days.That show was certainly the impetus for getting people interested in cruising.

LR:     Yes, it was.  And Princess was also the first cruise line to offer a teaching Academy.  When we started our four levels, we never thought we would have this many agents reach the status of Commodores.  It shows the dedication of agents to complete the program and take additional courses annually.

TRO:  Now fess up, Lee, how did you do on the courses?

LR:     I admit, I didn’t pass Tahiti and South Pacific on the first try.

TRO:  Another innovation in marketing tools are the personalized e-mails from  Princess being sent to the passengers.

LR:     Once an agent completes a booking, their client may receive four e-mails, spaced out.  A welcome from our CEO, then one from the Captain, a third one from the Cruise Director, and the final one about 15 days before sailing from another officer. We want the passengers to get excited about their cruise. The average time a travel agent spends on making the sale, and preparing the client can be up to 3 hours.  This should save some time.

TRO:   Some agents have complained that these are coming from Princess, rather than from the agents, directly. 

LR:     We have heard that, and we are making changes –  the agency name will be more prominent on the e-mails. More agent friendly.

TRO:   Speaking of agent friendly, please explain your commission policy pertaining to cancellations.

LR:      You mean our Vacation Protection Plan.  We cannot call it insurance, since we are not an insurance carrier.  If agents cancel the booking, after full payment, they can get the basic commission, as stated, but they get their override only if they had sold our Vacation Protection Plan.

TRO:    Agents who call Princess are used to the four question survey. Sometimes a res agent seems like they did a good job, but when the invoice is sent, there may be errors, and too late to change the comments.

LR:       The phone calls are recorded, and they are listened to.  The Res Agent can get perks for good scores, and at anytime a travel agent  can call in and change their survey remarks. We now have 800 res agents taking phone calls.  Some are home based.

TRO:     The most annoying thing I have found when calling in a reservation, is trying to get the Captain’s Circle number.  I provide the name, address and phone number, and birthdate and still am asked for their e-mail, which I will not give out.

LR:        You can get it without the e-mail.  We just have to update everything.  Believe me, we know more about your clients than you know.  Every penny they have spent onboard, what they bought, even what they like to drink. And if you don’t book on POLAR, the res agents can complete a booking in four minutes.

TRO:   Now, on to Cunard. It’s a great product, but some agents still need that push to sell it.

LR:      Surprisingly, the awareness level in the US is lower than what it should be. It is important to qualify the clients and let them know the 101 different things that they can do onboard. Honestly, I haven’t even done them all myself.

TRO:   What’s been your greatest vacation?

LR:      Easy question. Anything with Alaska. Last year, my Mom and 28 of us went on the Golden Princess.  It was the best.

TRO:    And on your bucket list? Has to be Africa.  Must be a Micato Safari, with my wife and our 16 year daughter.

TRO:    Say “Hi” to Captain Stubing for me.

LR:       Gavin’s great!

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