There’s a lot changing in the landscaps of travel agents at the moment.
With new variants entering the market, as Travel Designers and Lifestyle Planners continue stake out their territory, Travel Weekly wanted to find out just how integral agents are to the industry.
Speaking to Travel Weekly, CLIA Managing Director Joel Katz touted agents as playing a “vital” role to cruise bookings.
“Last year more than 82% of cruise holidays were booked with the help of cruise travel agents. Travel agents are playing an increasingly important role in booking cruises and identifying trends.”
“CLIA research shows that as the demand for cruising continues to grow, so does the need for travel agents,” Katz said.
Fo Katz, as travelling plans become more diverse and holiday makers seek more niche destinations and cruises, agents are only becoming more important.
“A key finding is that, as people continue to travel the globe, travel agents are playing a vital role in matching travellers’ desires to the right cruise experience.”
“Travel agents play a vital role in the holiday experience, acting as a cruise line matchmaker, planning guide, budget adviser, and travel consultant for travellers.”
“Agents offer an unmatched service to both first-time and seasoned travellers in providing a stress-free travel experience,” he added.
When asked why he sees them as so important, Katz pinned it down to their vast knowledge of bookings and the industry.
“Travel Agents provide knowledge and expertise which is valuable to consumers because it allows them to combine their own research with the expertise of their trusted travel agent, creating a seamless travel experience with transfers, air, as well as unique pre and post tours and hotels bringing added value to every booking.”
“It is also beneficial to have an agent to help you when things don’t go to plan.”
So what makes a good agent?
“A good travel agent gets to know their customer, their wants and their needs, really well. A good agent is impartial and should always recommend and give insights into the best choice for the client, not the supplier.”
According to Katz, CLIA has five simple reasons he and the organisation encourage people to use agents:
1. A trip tailored to the customer
Travel agents not only handle direct travel bookings but can also help find the best cruise for every traveller. A travel agent can create a travel experience based on preferences, tastes and holiday desires.
They can also help find unexpected activities and destinations that fit travel styles to create a once-in-a-lifetime cruise experience.
2. Experienced expertise
Travel agents undergo extensive training and continuously visit different ships to stay informed. Agents work with a variety of cruise lines, and many personally travel with those lines, so they can offer personal and professional insight on different accommodations, destinations, excursions, and more; as well as offer counsel on more complex issues like travel insurance.
From tips on finding a romantic bistro in a port city and the best times for on board dining, to trying to find the most adventurous sea voyage for an upcoming trip, travel agents have the answers.
3. A stress-free travel experience
For the most stress-free travel experience, identify an accredited cruise specialist. Many agents achieve certification credentials through CLIA’s Learning Academy or take courses through cruise lines to elevate their expertise in cruise experiences.
These CLIA accredited travel agents are committed to providing the best travel experience for every client, every time. This leaves the logistics to a professional, giving travellers someone in their corner if things go wrong.
If a flight is missed or excursion is cancelled, an agent can handle refunds and logistics to take the stress out of travelling.
4. Promotions & deals
In most cases, travel agents have access to special promotions and deals not available to consumers booking directly.
5. Perks & personalised travel
In order to keep travellers as happy as possible, many travel agents are able to offer unmatched travel perks. Agents can ensure clients get benefits that may be available like complimentary bottles of wine, prepaid gratuities, or on board spending money.
In addition to fun extras, agents can also arrange personalised travel arrangements for your cruise such pre or post add-ons, flights and transfers.