How many times have you been asked what was your favorite cruise line or favorite cruise ship? Having hosted the 2-hour weekly “Vacation and Cruise Club” call-in radio show in Miami from 1995 to 2003, I was probably asked that question at least 400 times. My honest answer was always the same, “Every one I have been on!”
While I was certainly trying to stay neutral to the many cruise executives that were my guests over those 8 years, I was still telling the truth, as I really had enjoyed all 250+ cruises that I had experienced.
In reflecting back to all the “new ships” I have had the pleasure of sailing on, I would have to say that each year the newer ships did impress me and many of them found a place in my “Top Five Favorite Ships.” However, having just come off my 265th cruise, (okay, retirement has slowed me down), I am pleased to inform you I do have a new favorite ship: Read the rest of this entry »
I think it is time again for me to get on my old soapbox in regard to agents complaining about the low commissions they receive when selling cruises that have a low lead-in price. I’m very aware that competition in the 3 & 4-day market has driven the commissionable fares so low that agents are not making very much on those sales. Read the rest of this entry »
I have found that Thanksgiving is a perfect time to spend some time reflecting on all the things for which I have to be thankful. I always start with the fact that I am still enjoying good health. This has become even more important now that I am in my early 70s. Then I reflect on how wonderful it was that I have such a great lady in my life–someone that enjoys cruising as much as I do. This also seems more important now that we have more time to get away on cruises. I still find a way to justify my cruises as part of my continuing travel education, as I can come back and share my experiences with the travel agents that use my agent mentoring program. Read the rest of this entry »
It is again time for me to get on my old soap box and suggest it is time for agents to stop selling the same old stuff…okay, okay, I know my CLIA training taught me to sell features and benefits but, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to talk about selling “new stuff.” The good news is there are lots of “new stuff” you should be bringing to the attention of your customers and prospects.
My main takeaway for you cruise sellers out there is to focus daily on finding new cruisers, as well as working to retain your existing clients. I used to tell the agents in my training seminars they need to become human web browsers for their clients. They need to know what’s new in the travel industry because if the clients find it first…what do they need an agent for? Read the rest of this entry »
I’m sure most of you have been reading the many blog posts from agents who are concerned that the two mega cruise lines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are dictating the future of travel agents and more importantly, how much they make.
Travel agents have a right to question the viability of their careers in light of some of the recent year’s changes by the big two. One big question is, why are direct bookings continuing to increase? Hopefully, someone will ask about this at the CLIA Cruise3sixty Conference.
If last year’s results are any indication, Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd have to be happy with the direction they are heading. Their income is going up, how about yours? Read the rest of this entry »
Over the years in the industry, I have continually stressed the importance of being known by your clients as a true travel consultant and not just an “order taker.” I believe strongly, that to build a meaningful list of “lifetime clients,” that every year, an agent needs to touch base with their clients and recommend a couple of vacation ideas. Yes, out of the blue! Think about it…if your clients can find every trip they take online, do they really need you? Read the rest of this entry »
It is time for me to get on my old soap box and suggest it is time for agents to start selling Norwegian Cruise Line. I truly don’t want you to miss the boat, as I think NCL has hit another home run with the adding of the Waterfront on their two new ships, the Norwegian Breakaway and pretty soon, the Norwegian Getaway.
Think of the Waterfront as a quarter-mile boardwalk experience along the outside of a full deck. Here you can select from 8 alfresco dining experiences or just have a drink in one of the great outdoor lounges. Let’s face it, people that love cruises enjoy looking out to the sea. That is why almost all outside cabins now have private balconies; and why you probably sell more balcony cabins than any other category. Read the rest of this entry »
Your concept of cruise ship dining room “dress codes” probably is based on how long you have been in the travel industry. If you are fairly new to the travel industry, you are probably asking yourself, “What dining room dress code policies?” If you have been on many cruises in the last few years, it certainly appears there are none, as it seems that folks stroll into the dining room in whatever strikes their fancy.
On the other hand if you are like me, and are one of the old timers, you probably remember back when there were some pretty strict dress codes. As time has gone forward, it seems that many of them have changed. I fear that the days of enjoying a few “Formal Nights” will just become memories of, what I like to call, the golden age of cruising. Read the rest of this entry »
After being in the travel business for the last 26 years, is it just my failing memory of “How it used to be?” or am I noting that there continues to be a major change in the direction being taken by the senior management of the major cruise lines?
I seem to remember going to some of the major cruise conferences where “agent friendly” cruise executives would proclaim how important the travel agent distribution model was to them. Cruise Line panels had very pro-agent executives like Bob Dickinson (Carnival), Rod McCloud (RCCL), Kirk Landerman (HAL); Rick James (Princess) and Jackie Johnson (NCL) all telling the agents how important we were to them. They were both agent friendly and approachable at every event I attended. Read the rest of this entry »
I suspect that most of us are glad this recession appears to be waning, as there is no question that we have seen years full of challenges for both travel suppliers and travel agents alike. And, while there are some positive indications that immediate future looks better, there are a lot of travel professionals who are not so optimistic.
We all know that for four years (2008-2011) the travel industry slowed. Travel suppliers were forced to come out with some innovative offers, most of which included lower prices, which resulted in lower commissions for travel agents. But, many agents faced the problem head on by aggressively marketing the resulting great offers. And guess what happened? Read the rest of this entry »
I suspect that most of us are tired of reading about how bad the economy is and worse yet, how many so called “experts” think it will not get better any time soon. But at the same time, we read how the President is continuing to try to come up with a “stimulus” plan that will get us back on track again. But, the real question we all wonder about is how will all this effect the travel industry in the near future, much less in 2012 and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, John Frenaye and I were debating a recent move by a major cruise line to cut the commission rate they paid on Interline rates (these are special rates for airline and other associated industry employees) to 10%. John’s concern was that cruise lines might in fact be looking to reduce their commission expense or even eliminate it on certain classes of bookings—early booking rates, groups, military, residency, etc. My first response was something I used to say to an occasional complaint call to my weekly cruise radio show in Miami, “He who pays for the new ships, makes the rules.” Read the rest of this entry »
I suspect that most of you are glad 2010 is almost over, as there is no question that it was another year full of challenges for both travel suppliers and travel agents alike. However, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, it is a good time for all of us to reflect on some of the things for which we are thankful. And if we are honest with ourselves, we know things could have been worse. Hopefully, most of you have had mostly good health this year and have had time to enjoy your family and friends.
To better make my point, most of you should be thankful you didn’t have any passengers that were stranded on the Carnival Splendor last week. I’m sure there are a few of you that had some first time cruise passengers on the Splendor and now you are facing a little challenge convincing these folks that they should try a cruise again. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the twenty plus years I have been a travel agent educator, I have continually stressed the importance of being known by your clients as a true travel consultant and not just an “order taker.” I believe strongly, that to build a meaningful list of “life time clients,” that every year, an agent needs to recommend a couple of vacations that might be of interest to their best clients. The point being, if they are always finding every trip they take, do they really need you? Read the rest of this entry »
I suspect there are a lot of travel agents who are starting to get worried about how they are going to stay in business following the recent policy revisions on rebating by Carnival and NCL. With Carnival and NCL joining Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara, with strong no rebating policies, those agents that have been closing sales by giving away most of their commission are going to find it hard to retain past clients. Read the rest of this entry »
I suspect that most travel agents become uncomfortable when the topic “does size matter,” comes up, especially in mixed company…. with non-travel agents. But, with the number of big ships that have been coming out lately, I think it is time for travel agents to become more comfortable with this controversial subject.
Let me start out by acknowledging that big ships probably should not be offered to your small ship clients. But, there is nothing wrong with letting them know what’s new in the cruise industry. Just maybe some of the new big ship features might interest them if they are looking for something new—maybe a special occasion or a family reunion. For that reason, let’s take a look at some new features that just might appeal to some of your open minded clients. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in April, I attended the Cruise World 2010 conference in Fort Lauderdale. It was great to be around so many “up beat” cruise line executives and travel agents who were all reporting strong first quarters, with some predicting that cruise prices will start to strengthen again. This was good news to the agents who are focused on filling all the new ships that continue to come online. The math is pretty simple… Read the rest of this entry »
I’m not really surprised that you might be a little discouraged following all the issues that have impacted you over the past few years. In fact, I can almost empathize with those of you that are fed up and are seriously considering getting out of the industry. No one would really blame you, no one likes to work even harder than you used to, only to see your income go down.
But, as I mentioned in a previous article, some of you have chosen to not get discouraged. You are staying busy making sure your clients are taking great vacations and finding new clients with all the great deals that suppliers are offering. You see the glass as half full and I’m sure that as things turn around, you will be making more money than ever before. But, for those of you that have pretty much given up and don’t like what’s going on… Read the rest of this entry »
We all know that the Internet has changed the way people gather travel information, as well as “shop” for their vacations. The Internet continues to grow in usage as the “one stop” source for travel information and travel specials being offered by mega travel sites and travel suppliers alike. But recently, it has been documented that most travelers actually prefer to book their vacations with an actual travel professional, after gathering their information online.
The above facts confirm a major paradigm shift from the usage of the traditional “storefront” travel agent to the true “travel professionals” including the home based professionals who specialize in specific travel segments. Over recent years, clients have continued to become more concerned with the knowledge and expertise of their travel professional and less and less concerned about where that professional works. Read the rest of this entry »
I suspect that most of us are glad 2009 is over, as there is no question that it was a year full of challenges for both travel suppliers and travel agents alike. And, while there are some positive indications that this will be a better year, there are a lot of travel professionals that feel 2010 will be another bad year.
We all know that in 2008 and 2009 the travel industry slowed. Travel suppliers were forced to come out with some innovative offers, most of which included lower prices, which resulted in lower commissions for travel agents. But, many agents faced the problem head on by aggressively marketing the resulting great offers. And guess what happened? Read the rest of this entry »