Identify and make a short list of travel professionals.
Do not limit yourself to agents from “brick and mortal” locations, large offices or corporate agencies. Many small office agencies and home based travel agents are very, very good cruise planners.
Contact each person on your list.
Prioritize your list based on your initial personal reactions to the person you met or talked with via telephone.
Use a sliding scale of one through ten, with ten as the high number.
For the moment, this is strictly subjective on your part, your “gut” reaction.
Evaluate each candidate.
LOOK FOR TWO TYPES OF INFORMATION
1). The first type of information you are looking for pertains to credentials, such as professional associations, cruise experience, licensing (if applicable), years as an agent, and so on.
2). The second, and more elusive, type of information pertains to intangible factors.
Your approach when determining intangible factors is to observe behavior and to pay careful attention to questions.
- Did the agent greet you by standing up, smiling warmly, and perhaps offering to shake your hand?
- If your evaluation took place via telephone, did you sense an upbeat voice and warm smile?
- Did you receive the cruise agent’s undivided attention, from start to finish? If not, did the agent ask permission to answer another call or to perform another task?
- After informing the agent of your desire to take a cruise, did s/he give you literature, other information or simply a sales pitch prior to asking you any profile questions?
- Primarily, if the agent attempts to sell you any cruise product before asking you a single question (getting a profile), immediately say goodbye!
- Among the first things a good cruise agent does is to provide you with his/her credentials and to obtain profile information on you.
- An agent that asks questions and writes down the information is preferable to one that simply gives you a questionnaire.
In summary, a cruise agent’s true desire to assist you in every way possible will shine through their behavior, and their profile questions.
Based on his or her profile of you, your “perfect” cruise agent volunteers to do whatever s/he can do to make your planning as worry-free, stress-free and hassle-free as humanly possible.