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TOP CRUISE AGENCY


The UK’s best cruise agencies were put under the spotlight by Saga Holidays’ head of trade sales Deborah Aylward and TTG editor Sophie Griffiths as the five shortlisted companies explained their achievements and strategies


The Six Star Cruises team Deborah Aylward (left) and Sophie Griffiths begin scoring .ROL CRUISE


The team is out in force with chief executive Jeremy Dickinson joined on the call by colleagues Rosie Weir and Lucy Barwood.


This specialist agency, formerly


known as Reader Offers, was founded in 1995 and now employs 130 staff. Jeremy is keen to stress the “very low” level of staff turnover with 70% having at least five years’ service at the company. Creating the “right atmosphere and culture” is crucial for ROL, with a philosophy that revolves around “everybody working together with no blame culture”. ROL has created its own in-house


training scheme, The Cruise Academy of Excellence, and also hosts an


awards night for staff every year. Personal experience is vital, with


new starters encouraged to take a fam trip within their first three months. Customer service revolves around


“making sure everybody is well looked after” from the initial enquiry until clients arrive home from their cruise. ROL tracks customer satisfaction through its Net Promoter Score – currently around 98%. It’s paying dividends, with a repeat


booking rate of 65% over the last three years, and a 10% rise in sales during 2016.


.SIX STAR CRUISES


Getting used to selling luxury cruises that often cost more than £50,000 per trip is one of the biggest hurdles


for agents at Six Star Cruises, says managing director James Cole. Six Star is the luxury arm of sister specialist retailer cruise118.com and only sells upmarket lines such as Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, Regent and Oceania.


The team is made up of 20


concierge consultants who offer assistance that goes far beyond booking the actual cruise, including requests such as booking dogs into kennels and organising hairdressing appointments. One consultant even took a call at


3am from a client who was onboard a ship and couldn’t work out how to get from her cabin to the dining room, prompting the obliging agent to quickly found a deck plan to give directions to the customer. Staff obviously don’t mind the late


night calls from clients as Six Star has enjoyed a 100% retention rate over the last year. “We do quite a lot of work on the


psychology of selling to wealthy customers,” says James. “Agents can be scared of making bookings that


may be two or three times their annual salary.” New employees undergo an eight-


week induction process before they can start taking calls, while agents go on two or three fam trips or ship visits per year. As well as gaining business from


Google search, Six Star also hosts around 50 events a year for existing customers and their friends.


.IGLU CRUISE


Next up is Simone Clark who dials in from Spain and has double the work on her plate as she is representing both of the company’s shortlisted cruise brands: Iglu and Planet Cruise. She begins by talking about London-


based Iglu, which has been selling cruise for 11 years and now has a sales team of 100 including 30 homeworkers. Most sales staff have already been


involved in selling cruise before they joined while training is tailored to each agent’s level of experience in the sector. Newcomers also receive training on Iglu’s systems.


The ROL Cruise team 32


TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST


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