For anyone looking to get into the travel retailing business, or for those already in it that want a refresher on selling basics, there are several books out there that can help get you started, or recharged.


I was reminded of this when I received a 2017 copy of “How to Promote and Sell Cruises,” which author Bob Burke was kind enough to send me. It is a highly organized, very to the point primer on selling as applied to cruises.

But it’s not the only book out there. At least two others that I’m aware of are worth a look. The first is “How to Sell Cruises Step by Step,” by Lori Berberian Pelentay.  The other is the classic “Selling the Sea” by Bob Dickinson and Andy Vladimir.

Each book has its strengths.

Burke’s book, first published in 2011, is a compact 105 pages and comes in a spiral-bound format.  It is the quickest read and the most focused on selling technique. There is almost nothing about product, the history of cruise lines, or supplier strategy.

Burke’s background includes owning two travel agencies and publishing a cruise newsletter, as well as time as a general business consultant. The viewpoint from the consultant’s chair is especially helpful in providing business advice.

The writing is pithy, almost to a fault. But if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to reading about cruises because you’re too busy trying to sell them, this may be the book for you. It is priced at $39.

Pelentay’s book, a conventionally-bound 146 pages, is the middleweight volume, with thumbnail profiles of major cruise lines, an A-Z section on how to make a booking, a section on staterooms and deck plans, and more. The book benefits from Pelentay’s perspective as both a long-time Princess Cruises manager and an agency owner. A Kindle version is listed on Amazon at $.9.99.

At 352 pages, “Selling the Sea” is the longest and richest of the three. Former Carnival Cruise Line president Dickinson teamed with Vladimir, a scholar, to provide lots of C-suite insight. It’s great on cruise history, and features long first-person contributions from other top industry executives. The writing is as snappy as Dickinson’s personality. It is priced at $22 on Amazon, but is available used and as a downloadable PDF.

One subject that could get more attention in all three books (Selling the Sea was last updated in 2007) is the role of the Internet and social media in contemporary cruise selling. Burke’s book has 3 ½ pages, while Selling the Sea has only one.

Although very experienced, all of the authors came of age in a different era. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for a digital native to publish a cruise selling book from a more 21st century perspective.

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