You’re planning a vacation. Not just any vacation, but a small ships cruise. Experienced travelers will tell you that not all travel agents are equal, and that your entire trip can be shaped, for better or for worse, by the agent you book through.
So what are you really looking for in a booking agent? The following tips can help you sort out exactly what you need to have the time of your life:
An Agent Who Gets You
Who wants to work with someone who isn’t sympatico? When seeking a cruise agent, have a few trial calls with different companies to experience their customer service and level of intuition about what you may or may not like to experience on your trip. If you choose to book multiple times with the same agency, that relationship will continue to build your agent’s understanding of you and your preferences. However, good agents will be able to provide intuitive assistance on the very first call.
An Agent Who Handles All the Details
Does your booking agent handle not just the cruise, but hotels and flights, as well? Great agents understand that one major aspect of their job is to help you get from each leg of your journey to the next, without hassle and stress. Any agent worth their salt will help you book the entirety of your travel plans, or at least direct you to exceptional resources that can help you do so.
An Agent Who’s Certified
Look for agents with exceptional training. Anyone who is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is likely going to be serious about what they do. Travel advisors certified through The Travel Institute will also likely have a great background. Look for agency affiliations with the AAA or a company like Carlson Wagonlit, which can indicate integrity. Ultimately, asking your agent about their qualifications can be telling – a confident response on any of the above is a good sign.
An Agent Who’s Calm Under Fire
Your agent goes to bat for you, ensuring the best deal through the cruise companies they contract with. Anyone who is handling time and financial dealings for you should be able to keep cool in a conflict and manage your account with skill and dexterity. A good agent will assist you if your flight is delayed, or a hotel is overbooked, even though they only receive commission on the actual booking of your journey. If an agent is showing resistance to helping in a crisis, they’re not the best person for the job.