Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

*InsightMany agents entering the travel business face a steep learning curve.

There are so many facets of the industry -- the ins-and outs of running a business, the details of destinations or ships and the mastery of sales and customer service techniques, to name a few -- that it can be hard to know where to start.

A new book has gathered some of the basics between a single set of covers.  “How to Sell Cruises Step by Step” offers a primer on the cruise segment of the travel agency business.

The self-published book, available through Amazon, is subtitled a “beginners guide,” and that’s what it is.  Experienced travel agents will find it simplistic. But anyone who is thinking about buying or starting a travel business, anyone who has just taken the leap or anyone doing the work part time could likely benefit from the book.*TomStieghorst 

Author Lori Berberian Pelentay started with Princess Cruises in the corporate office and worked on the Pacific Princess for a year before starting her own agency.

The book begins with such fundamentals as why sell cruises (she make more money for her time selling cruises, Pelentay writes) and how cruises work (in a single page). It goes on in more depth to topics such as commissions, deposits, deck plans and cruise documents.

The 134-page paperback (there’s also a Kindle version) is clearly organized and written in a breezy style. Its strength is that it takes little for granted. Anyone who has ever confused starboard with port will be grateful. 

Pelentay draws on her own experiences for stories in a capable fashion, but the narrative would have been livelier with a few illustrative anecdotes from travel agents other than herself.  

There’s plenty of training that starts at the level of Pelentay’s book and gets more advanced. Agents attending CLIA’s Cruise3sixty conference in Vancouver this month will have six new training segments to choose from, plus dozens of previously developed courses.

The cruise lines themselves have great online training “universities,” as do several of the big cruise agency networks. 

There’s no substitute for experience, of course. But with the training tools out there, beginning agents stand a reasonable chance of handling basic travel transactions until they gain some first-hand knowledge.

“My advice for the best learning experience is to cruise,” Pelentay writes. Seems like a good idea.

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