Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd CEO has shouted from the rooftops in support of travel agents, although it wasn’t actually a rooftop, it was the Cruise360 conference in America.
Calling travel agents “the voice of reason”, Richard Fain, also Royal Caribbean’s chairman, delivered the keynote address at the event, per Travel Agents Central, and had no shortage of praise for the profession.
According to the publication, Fain claimed a good travel agent can move people along the journey from considering travel to actually making a decision and laying down a payment.
“People are buying a cruise, but they’re also making a decision about their time and their family’s time,” he said in his speech.
So naturally, Fain added, “they’re worried about that choice”.
And that’s where a good travel agent comes in, providing professional “validation” and helping clients make the right decisions in relation to their holidays.
Fain, per Travel Agent Central, recounted an instance where he took his daughter to the shops to buy a dress. But while he complimented her dress choice, it wasn’t until the shop told her she looked great that his daughter “felt valued”.
And it’s the same with travellers.
“They need to hear it from the right person. And you need to make sure you are the right person,” Fain said.
Speaking about Royal Caribbean’s investment and support of the travel trade industry, Fain added, “It’s good for business… I make no bones about it”.
“My job is to do what’s best for Royal Caribbean. We support the travel agency distribution system because it has good payoff for us.
“We all work for one of the greatest industries and our future is very rosy.”
As an industry, Fain said there’s a lot of potential to make an impact and create positive change, and that includes speaking out about issues like Trump’s travel ban, which despite being unintentional has seen both the cruise industry and travel industry overall suffer greatly.
Per Travel Agent Central, he said, “Together we can do a lot to effect change.
We can change regulation. We can change legislation that has unintentional consequences. We educate, and education is probably the most important thing anyone can do…and we promote our own interests.
A recent ASTA report showed that of all bookings, 14 per cent are made through travel agents, the highest number that it’s been in a while, Fain added, per Travel Agent Central.
And that’s even in the young crowds, with travellers aged 18 to 34 more likely to use a travel agent than others, doing so 30 per cent of the time – that’s twice the national average in the States.
“It really does show that we’re in the right direction, and they’re [millennials] the group most likely to recommend to a friend that they use a travel agent,” he said. “So the future is bright for all of us.
Together, we create vacations of a lifetime. We help people plan. We help families plan. And it gives them a vacation that people will never forget.
“I am passionately enthusiastic about what we as an industry do. Together we can do wonderful things. Together we can do what we’ve been doing and then some. Together, I believe we can do anything.”