When it comes to planning a cruise, the very first decision has one has to make is whether or not to book their trip through a travel agent. And while there are many benefits to doing so, not all travel professionals are created equal. So what qualities should a great travel agent possess? We’re so glad you asked!
1. They should know their stuff.
Contrary to popular belief, all cruises are not created equal. Your travel agent should have an intimate knowledge of each line and what distinguishes them from their competition. They also need to be well versed in the ships within any line’s fleet and how they differ from one another. Carnival Vista is going to offer a far different experience than the same line’s Sunshine, and a great travel agent will know which is right for their clients. More importantly, they’ll know which one is wrong… and why.
2. They need to put your needs first.
Like a computer program, a good agent should be user-friendly. The last thing you want is someone who makes you feel like a number. Most of us only get one or two vacations a year, and we want it to feel special. A great planner will help cater the trip to your specifications… and do it with a smile. Obviously, it’s in their best interests to do so, because a happy client is a repeat client!
3. They should be hard-working.
If all you want is someone to click on a cruise line’s website and randomly quote you a price… well, heck, you can do that yourself. Train your puppy well enough, and he’ll be able to do it for you. A good travel agent should get you a decent price, throw in a few perks, help you plan the trip, and be aware of price drops which could mean saving you even more money.
4. They should offer you something above and beyond.
One of the best reasons to use a travel agent is that they’re going to not only get you the best deal possible, but sweeten the pot for choosing to give them your business. Maybe that means some onboard credit or a bottle of wine greeting you upon arrival. If there’s not at least a little something extra in it for you, you’re not with the right person.
5. They should never charge you a fee.
If a travel agent tries charging you a fee for their services, run – don’t walk – in the opposite direction. There are plenty of great travel agents who receive their compensation from their travel partners as opposed to charging clients for whom they work. That’s one of the reasons that they are able to get better deals for you: they work directly with the cruise lines, making it possible for them to strike deals that you, as an individual, would not be able to get.
What’s your preferred method of booking a trip… doing it yourself, or using a travel agent?