Did you know that one of the most lucrative sectors within the travel industry is the cruise market? Not only is the average price tag typically higher, but cruise lines offer travel agents among the highest commission rates in the industry. What’s more, once passengers have been bitten by the cruising bug, they often become loyal and regular cruise aficionados.
In fact, once travellers have booked their first cruise, they are more likely to book a cruise for their next holiday. To be even more specific, 85% of passengers will go on to book another cruise – very often making the booking for their next voyage even before disembarking their current one! And if they do, the commission for that trip should automatically be directed to their agent!
So you see, there’s money to be made, and travel agents who decide to specialise in this niche sector stand to reap the rewards very nicely particularly as the sector is one of the fastest growing in travel with over 17 new ships scheduled to set sail in 2024.
This article looks at how you can tap into the opportunities by becoming a home-based cruise travel agent. We’ll look at how to get started, what you need to know and a whole lot more!
What does a cruise travel agent do?
Becoming a cruise travel agent is an exciting business opportunity. You’ll navigate the vast cruise industry, creating dream holidays for your clients. You’ll choose among the plethora of cruise lines and itineraries that appeal to your clients, whether that be a river, sea or ocean cruise.
But that’s just the start. After that, you’ll then customise their package, choosing the correct cabin for them and arranging the entire travel logistics, which might include transfers, flights, a hotel stay, visa and insurance. And then there are the lucrative add-ons to consider, such as private tours in the various ports of call en route.
It’s hard, but highly rewarding work. And, as we’ve said, cruise clients are often very loyal, so do a good job first time around and they’ll soon be back wanting you to organise and book their next adventure at sea.
Why choose to work from home?
Does the idea of becoming a cruise travel agent sound exciting? For those of you who answered “yes”, you’ll be very glad to hear that there are great advantages, apart from doing something you’re passionate about.
It’s true: becoming a cruise travel agent gives you the chance to experience cruising for yourself, travelling to exotic destinations and enjoying the exciting onboard experiences. What’s even better is that you can become an expert in this field and set yourself up booking cruises for your clients from the comfort of your own home.
Becoming a home-based cruise consultant offers you flexibility, avoids expensive overheads and offers a great deal of comfort. Working from home means you’ll not have to endure the long and tedious commutes to the office. You choose your working hours – there’s no need to stick to a regimented nine-to-five timetable. And, setting up your office from home means there’s zero rent to pay. It also means you have the flexibility to go on cruises yourself and take bookings while you are onboard!
In other words, you’re the boss. You determine when and where to work. Some choose to work part time; some choose to run their travel agency as a side hustle; while others go all out and run their business organising cruises on a full-time basis – meaning their earning potential is literally uncapped.
What skills and qualities are needed?
Apart from having a passion for travel – particularly cruising – you may be wondering about the skills and personal qualities you need in order to succeed as a work-from-home cruise agent. In short, some of the most essential ones include the following:
- Communication skills (both verbal and written)
- Active listening skills
- Organisational skills
- Sales, persuasion and negotiation skills
- Computer literacy
- Customer service skills (problem-solving, lateral thinking, calmness and patience)
- Attention to detail
How to get started as a home-based cruise travel agent
When it comes to becoming a work-from-home cruise consultant, you basically have three options.
The first is to get an educational qualification in travel and tourism and work in the industry.
The second is to start your own independent business, which can be quite costly and time-consuming.
Meanwhile, the third option is to take out a franchise with an already well-established travel agency that specialises in cruising. An example of this is The Travel Franchise.
By partnering with The Travel Franchise, you’ll have access to all the necessary training that will unleash your full potential in a short period of time to help you sell cruises from the comfort of your own home. And the great thing about The Travel Franchise is that its initial training is specifically geared towards people who have never worked in the travel industry before. As long as you have all, or most of the skills listed above, the rest can all be learnt.
Training with The Travel Franchise takes just five days of intensive, live, online training. But it doesn’t end there. Training and support are ongoing with opportunities to tour ships while they are in port, attend fam trip cruise educationals and watch cruise webinars.. While you are able to sell all aspects of travel (The Travel Franchise works with more than 450 suppliers and around 15 key trade cruise partners), it also has a dedicated cruise division for those who want to specialise. It even has developed a unique website for its agents to make booking a cruise super simple. In a sector that is notoriously complicated, it can take hours to research and compare cruises. With this unique website, all the research is done for you in a matter of minutes, thereby making you far more efficient and knowledgeable in the eyes of your customers.
So, with all the training and resources at your fingertips, all it takes is for you to get going.
If you’ve never worked from home before, though, there are a few essentials you should prepare beforehand as you set up your home office. Here’s our advice:
Setting up your home office
In order to set up a productive work space at home, you will need to prepare the following essentials:
- You need to choose a private and comfortable location in your home to work from on a consistent basis.
- Get the necessities right, such as a desk and comfortable chair, good lighting and organisers or cabinets where you can store your paperwork.
- Technology is a big deal when you work from home selling cruises. Ensure you have a laptop and stable internet connection, an external hard drive with sufficient storage space, an additional monitor (if necessary), keyboard and mouse, etc. The great thing about taking out a franchise with the likes of The Travel Franchise is that you tap into all their booking software and accounting systems. All you need is a laptop and a reliable internet connection.
- Your means of communication are also essential. You may want to consider getting a separate smartphone that you can use for your professional work activities.
How to find clients for your cruise travel agency business
There are many traditional and modern ways to find clients for your cruise travel agency business. Examples of these include networking (check out Business Network International). However, online marketing and leveraging the power of social media are key in our digital world.
One thing to bear in mind, irrespective of the channel you choose to use to market your cruise travel agency, is that you need to constantly work on building a strong client base and maintaining client relationships.
This will be achieved through your exceptional customer service, which means your clients will rely on you to book high-quality cruises for them. The better your customer service, the higher the chance they will book with you again and refer you within their personal networks.
As we’ve said, the advantage of joining a franchise is that the parent company is there to help. And this extends to assisting with marketing. For example, agents who are part of The Travel Franchise will be fed a stream of social media posts.
The Travel Franchise even goes one step further and provides agents’ customers with a specially-designed and unique app notifying clients of special deals and unmissable holiday and cruising opportunities. If clients are interested in the offer, they simply click on the app and they are automatically directed to their registered agent. If that’s you then you simply sit back and wait for the clients to come to you!
Staying informed and keeping up with industry trends
Lastly, because the industry is so dynamic, it’s always important to remain updated with cruise industry trends and travel regulations. For this purpose, as a home-based cruise consultant, you will want to make sure you’re offering your clients the best experience possible by staying informed. You can do so by:
- Subscribing to industry publications
- Attending webinars
- Going on fam trip (educational) cruises
- Touring cruise ships when they are in port
- And joining professional organisations, such as Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Once again, The Travel Franchise is one example of an organisation that dedicates time to training members of its specialist cruise division. This is done via its programme of Seminar at Sea sessions whereby agents get to step on board and set sail on an actual cruise. This gives them the opportunity not alone to attend educational lectures and workshops about the overall cruise industry but also to experience an actual cruise for themselves – which in turn helps them go on to sell it far easier to clients.
Becoming a cruise travel agent offers an exciting opportunity to pursue your passion for travel while helping other like-minded individuals have an incredible cruise holiday experience. However, you don’t have to do this in a 9-to-5 environment that ends up being quite costly.
Instead, you can become a cruise travel agent and work from the comfort of your own home (or even from a cruise ship!) without unnecessary overheads while enjoying great levels of flexibility. Being a home-based cruise travel agent and running your own online cruise agency means that the sky’s the limit in terms of the number of bookings you make and that means your earning potential is uncapped.
With so many great reasons to sell cruises from home, shouldn’t you consider partnering with The Travel Franchise to get amazing levels of training and support and earn some of the highest commissions in the industry? All this while enjoying working from home and being at the helm of your own business.