Look for a cruise specialist over a general travel agent. It is also worth noting if the agent has a CLIA accreditation such as ACC, MCC, and ECC. These stand for accredited cruise counsellor, master cruise counsellor, and elite cc. These are not easy things to attain.
But then again there are great agents who have not attained the above. My agent enrolled but never completed ACC. She is still an outstanding agent who works hard and has achieved great success as well as tons of loyal clients.
A good cruise agent will not push you to a certain cruise line without bothering to ask what you want in a cruise, what your preferences are, etc.
Originally posted by MiketheKid:
My friend's mom is a TA and booked my last cruise. She did a GREAT job - who would complain about a free upgrade from an inside room to an extended balcony (anyone getting sick of me talking about that yet? haha). But, lets say in the future I can't use her for some reason - where do I begin to look?
Ask your friends & family who they used and if they were happy with the service .
Word of mouth is the best advertising a TA can get.
Alexandr Pushkin, Carnival-Holiday, HAL-(old)Westerdam, Orient lines-Marco Polo, Royal Olympic-Olympic, NCL-Dream, Dawn-Princess, ACCL-Grande Caribe, Oceania-Insignia (3), Regatta(4) Marina (1) St Lawrence Cruise Lines-Canadian Empress
Another good source is onboard the ship. You have cruisers at your table every night and all of them have booked at least one cruise, the one they're on. Many will often be seasoned travelers with insight into more than a good agent, they often can tell you a lot of the ins and outs of the ports, excursions, shopping, etc.
I've learned a lot from fellow travelers over the years right at my dinner table. If they have a great agent, they'll be proud to recommend them. If not, they'll also share that information.
Let me share how I came to be a client of my current agent.
In the mid-1990s when I started cruising, the internet was still largely undeveloped and online services such as Compuserve were popular. I ran into my first cruise agent on Compuserve's travel forum. She coincidentally was in Huntsville, and just minutes away. She also knew my fellow staffer here, Sandy. But that agent got out of the business and I found another agent on Compuserve, who was great too. But she was already semi-retired and when she decided to get out of the biz she recommended another agent to me, who she thought very highly of. That was all the endorsement I needed and I have been with that last agent for over 10 years. And now I'll probably start working for her on an associate basis!
Dave I'm looking forward to you becoming an agent and hearing how you like it. It suits me to a tee. One of the best decisions I've made, although I made it very reluctantly. I answered an ad that sounded way to good to be true, you know the ones. When I came for my first interview I nearly turned around and got back in the elevator. It was a huge phone room, cubicle place that looked like an oversized Drew Carrey TV show set. Our office had around 200 agents at the time in two buildings. It was every bit as unappealing as it sounds on the surface. There was a low pay (long) training program in one of the busiest and most congested parts of Houston. Parking was a nightmare, the commute worse.
Once I got through the training and hit the phones I was amazed how quickly my days went by. I met dozens of very friendly and helpful co-workers. The best part is unlike sales gigs I'd had in the past, almost everyone I dealt with on the phone was excited. Some knew what they wanted and some needed guidance but all wanted a great cruise vacation. When i got calls after sailings the vast majority were thrilled with their experience. They were calling to say thanks and to start planning their next cruise. I found in a short time that by treating every client professionally and caring about geting them on the right cruise, I didn't ever need to prospect. For the most part I don't even have to try and answer incoming calls very often. The repeat and referral clients continue to grow. It makes me a comfortable living doing something I love and with a product I love. Now, after achieving some of my goals, they have allowed me to work from the comfort of my home. It just keeps getting better.
I'm certain you'll love being an agent. On the surface it's not what it's turned out to be in my cae, a blessing. Knowing only what I know about you from this forum, I know your clients will be well served and fortuante to have you as their agent. Welcome to the cruise industry, it'll be better for having you onboard!
I ran into my first cruise agent on Compuserve's travel forum. She coincidentally was in Huntsville, and just minutes away. She also knew my fellow staffer here, Sandy. But that agent got out of the business
Dave, either I forgot that MBP got out of the biz, or I never knew that. Are you still in touch with her? What is she doing now?
MBP initially moved away from doing mostly cruises and into first-class air as a specialty - back when TAs could still make money on air. When the air biz started getting pared down to nothing she closed her agency and after trying for a long time, she and David adopted children and she became a full-time mom which is really something she always yearned for. I haven't talked to her in a long time, although I think they still live in Huntsville and he still is an engineer for NASA.
How many people can say they once had a travel agent who had an engineering degree from RPI, and helped design the 767? She is really a unique woman!