There’s an ongoing debate between consumers and those critical of the travel business which struggles to answer the question “Do I need a travel agent or not?”. They’re not required and cruise-related websites make it really easy to click and buy a cruise, much like you might buy an airline ticket. But a good travel agent, one that will bring great value to the table, will have certain qualities required to make the cut. Ask these simple questions to find an agent with the minimum qualifications that make them worthy of your business.
- Are you connected? Since you are reading this, you are connected. You need someone who speaks your language in the medium you prefer be that via email, facebook, twitter or maybe just an easy phone call away. Bonus tip: try communicating with an agent via email to provide a written record of what was said, promised or delivered.
- Have you been on many cruises? A good travel agent specializing in cruise vacations should have a rich cruise history on multiple cruise lines. You’re looking for their first-hand knowledge and experience dealing with cruise lines, they better have it
- Are you certified? They should be at least members of the Cruise Lines International Association and have a few letters after their name like ACC, MCC or ECC showing they went through basic training and then some. If they have one of those, odds are they will tell you about some specialized training they got from the cruise line too. Give big bonus points if they are members of other professional organizations or consortium’s.
- How long have you been selling cruises? If they say less than five years forget about them. That’s about the minimum amount of time it takes for agents to really know their way around cruise lines, establish contacts that can do you some good later and have enough bookings behind them to know what they’re doing.
- Will I be dealing directly with just you? This one has to be a “yes” answer or the whole thing is not worth your time. To a good agent, their job starts with making the booking and never ends as they work towards building a life-long business relationship with you. If they are not personally following your booking from beginning to end you have the wrong person.