Everybody's got an opinion nowadays, from politicians to pundits, food critics to color commentators, Ebert to Roeper—the list is exhaustive.
In the travel community, travel agents hold court as the seers of speculation—at times praising one facet while upbraiding another. When your livelihood depends on the workings of others, it's no wonder that strong viewpoints are often evoked.
This is most evident in the world of cruising, where policy changes, ship introductions, new itineraries and fare fluctuations keep agents on their toes day in and day out. We asked agents what puts a smile on their faces when they are awake and what keeps them up at night with worry.
Higher Prices, Better Profits
Jeff Kivet, CEO and chairman of
"When a line moves a ship to somewhere new in
Danny Miller should know; he's been working in the industry for more than half a decade and is currently the director of vacation travel for Brookline, MA-based Cleveland Circle Travel. "There are so many cruises now," he says, "with a really great choice of itineraries."
While higher prices translate into better profits, Joan
McCarty, owner of Specialty Travel in
E-Ticketing: Losing Personal Touch With Clients
McCarty is happy about that; electronic documents, on the other hand, are a whole different can of worms.
Many cruise lines have migrated from issuing paper documents to e-ticketing, in an effort to provide an easier and more accessible method for guests to obtain their documentation. Princess Cruises led the shift when it went paperless last September; other cruise lines soon followed suit.
To McCarty, it's just another mechanism that is proving to widen the void between agent and client.
"I don't like that clients are having to go online to print out tickets," she says. "It's causing a problem because it's another way we are losing the personal touch. The more you can touch your clients, the better."
For example, when mailing cruise tickets to clients, she will often accompany them with personal bon voyage notes.
Agent and Cruise Line Relations
McCarty does admit that e-docs cut down on office costs ($16
a pop in her case). But Bill Jacob, owner of Reid Travel in
"I think it's very shoddy," he bluntly says. "It wouldn't cost the cruise lines much to send them to us." That aside, Jacob doesn't have many other complaints. "Everything is wonderful," he says of the current state of the cruise industry.
As for the relationship between the cruise lines and travel
"Some think they can go along without the agents,"
he says, "and replace sales guys with numbers guys. I understand that it's
He cites the travel industry's reaction to the attacks of September 11, when travel agents banded together and helped bring back the cruise industry.
"When agents are called upon, we produce," Kivet says.
As for the tools being developed to help ease the work of
agents, Chad Burt, chief technology officer of Cruises & Tours Unlimited in
Money matters still concern him and he would like to see
less competition between cruise lines to keep prices up. "When I see some
of these rates, I can't stand to sell them," he says. "It's tough
being nickel and dimed by the consumer. Pricing would be better with less