Suppliers Are Ready to Help Travel Agents

Travel agents can get great business advice — just by asking for it By: Kenneth Shapiro
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West
Shapiro // © 2016 TravelAge West

In this issue’s cover story, “What Agents Need to Know,” Marilyn Green, TravelAge West’s Cruise Editor, went to top executives at leading river cruise companies and asked them a simple question: “What do you wish more travel agents knew about river cruising?”

The executives’ answers are in the story, but one thing I especially like about this project is how willing these industry leaders were to share their wisdom. Of course, it’s in the best interest of their cruise lines to have an educated and inspired sales force of agents in the marketplace. But, even more than that, they truly believe in river cruising, and they want to help agents grow their business.

After all, these executives encounter winning strategies — and easily avoidable mistakes — every day, and there must be a level of frustration in having such extensive knowledge and not being able to easily bestow it onto others.

After reading this story, it’s clear to me that our industry is full of experts like these executives who are ready and willing to offer advice and assistance to professional travel sellers — if only those agents would ask.

Hopefully, as part of your regular office routine, you are talking to business development managers and others in sales support from a wide range of travel companies. These company sales reps exist, in large part, to make sure you succeed. Often, they represent a major investment by suppliers in the agent distribution system, and they offer a wealth of knowledge and experience. Agents can use these resources to brainstorm new ideas, to help resolve problems or to educate and inspire. Even better, as salespeople, they are generally fun, outgoing and a pleasure to be around, which makes it even easier to stay in touch with them.

As you can read in the story, according to cruise executives, a top area in which agents can improve is perfecting their sales techniques. Sometimes a relatively minor tweak in one’s business — such as selling themed river cruises or better qualifying and matching clients to cruise lines — can lead to new opportunities. Expert guidance is out there; all you have to do is ask.