I recently returned from a FAM trip on the beautiful Oceania Regatta, a 10-day Alaska cruise from San Francisco to Vancouver.
This was not my first FAM trip and I will be on another one in August, which will be an Alaska cruisetour with Holland America – since I sell so many Alaska cruisetours, I feel it is important for me to have my own cruisetour experience. We are booked in the Lanai category – I want to know for myself what those cabins are really like.
Since this was my first time to sail on Oceania, quite honestly, I expected some snobbery and gloating from guests about having been on this or that cruise, but I really didn’t encounter that at all (well, once).
I also thought people would have dressed up more for dinner, but found ‘country club casual’ to be truly that, yet in elegant surroundings. It was good for me to have my preconceptions about the Oceania guest corrected.
Since there were only three agents onboard, no real FAM activities were scheduled, although one night we were all invited to dine with the Oceania Club Ambassador and Destination Manager. When the Club Ambassador offered us our choice of white or red wine, I was floored when one of the agents requested a different wine label (which turned out to be of lesser quality than what had been offered). This same agent also ordered two entrees (although anyone can do that), but then didn’t even touch the second one! Am I wrong here or was this agent out of line?
On a European river FAM I was on last year, almost 2/3 of the passengers were either agents or a guest of an agent. Many of them had ‘a little too much of the free flowing wine’ at dinner and their behavior was not befitting a professional. Apparently a few of them also approached full fared guests as if they were agents and discussed things that should not have been discussed with regular guests!
I have heard of other horror stories about agents behaving poorly on FAM trips and it really angers me to think that agents would abuse the perk. On most FAM applications you must agree that you will act professionally at all times and will not approach or try to steal full fared guests. Once you sign that application, your signature is your agreement that you will abide by that code of ethic, yet agents do not honor their agreement. Sometimes it makes me hesitate to even sign up for a FAM trip because I fear the host supplier may think I’m one of ‘those’ agents!
The travel industry is a glamorous field, and as agents, we are fortunate to be offered these opportunities to go to amazing places and experience things most people only dream of doing. We should always be mindful of how we represent ourselves and our businesses, be respectful of our hosts and thankful for these opportunities and fully appreciate them – not abuse them or take them lightly. OK rant over – thanks for listening.
NOTE: To follow up with my March article, I WAS recently accepted as an Ambassador for our Chamber and the relationship with my family member is back on the mend. YAY!
Susan “Smitty” Price, ACC, is a cruise coordinator with Priceless Cruising, a home-based operation out of San Luis Obispo, Calif., that specializes in river and ocean cruises. She is an active member of the SLO Chamber of Commerce, SLO Women’s Network, two quilt guilds and the Alzheimer’s Association. Contact Smitty throughPricelessCruising.com, Facebook, LinkedIn or email@example.com.