Recommend recently had the opportunity to tour the Azamara Quest as part of a fundraiser lead by Cruise Planners – American Express Travel’s CEO and co-founder, Michelle Fee, who was also nominated for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Woman of the Year. Our associate editor had the opportunity to chat with Fee regarding the importance of travel agents in the current marketplace.
Michelle Marie Arean (MA): Tell us, how important are travel agents in the marketplace?
Michelle Fee (MF): Why waste four weeks planning a 4-day vacation? We’ve traveled, we know where to go, we know the promotions. A consumer can only rely on Google, and nine out of 10 times a travel agent gets a better deal.
MA: Why are travel agents more important than ever?
MF: They don’t charge a service fee. This is one thing many people think agents do. Plus, there’s too much noise in the marketplace, which can be confusing for the consumer. We help qualify. People sometimes end up booking the wrong vacation. For the most part we get two weeks a year and people want to make sure they are well spent—they are precious to us.
MA: Why should clients book through travel agents rather than on their own?
MF: When booking on their own, they’ll pay more. We can get the consumer extras like additional amenities you can’t find online. Things like wine in your cabin on arrival, credit to use on board, or if we know you’re planning a birthday or anniversary trip, we can surprise you with something extra to make it special for you.
MA: Why should a travel agent be part of Cruise Planners?
MF: In the industry world, we can buy things like a block of cabins and agents can earn higher commission on their sales. We also offer things like marketing support, and build websites for the agent. When agents sign up with us, they’re not on their own; they’re not starting from the bottom. We don’t sell travel; we rely on the agents for that.
MA: Off topic, in regards to today’s charity event—why do you find it important to give back and why did you choose this charity (the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)?
MF: My business partner chose this charity; her sister passed at just 54-years-old from cancer. My mother recently found out she had cancer, but luckily she has fought it. I am so blessed to be in this business, that I think, if I can make a difference I will try. So I cast a big net out, and what comes back is great. You have to give back in life—the circle is round.
For more information, visit cruiseplannersfranchise.com.