Travel Agents & European Cruises
Specializing in European Cruises
Europe is one of the most popular regions to travel to, and if you're a travel agent that specializes in the area, it will greatly benefit you to familiarize yourself with cruises throughout the region. As a travel specialist to Europe, it is important to note that the region is not one size fits all, and in particular, cruises can vary dramatically in style, size, and focus. A diversity of travelers head to the area and each one is looking for something different. A younger traveler may be focused on a lively cruise with plenty of on-ship activities that allow them to socialize and get to know fellow passengers. Price may be a significant factor in their decision as well. Families travel to Europe as well, and for many, this is a major family trip that they hope to make special and memorable. As their travel agent, it is your job to make this experience good for them. Ask the right questions before recommending a cruise line. Consider how old the children are. Look at any special dietary needs, and consider ports of call that are not only of interest to the adults, but also to the children.
Regional knowledge is very important in selecting a cruise to Europe. Perhaps the most popular cruises travel through the Mediterranean, and visit countries such as Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Egypt. Other regions to consider are Scandinavia and the British Isles. River cruises are another popular option in Europe and allow visitors to see inland areas in Europe with the convenience of a cruise, but the intimacy of a smaller ship.
Becoming an Expert
If you're hoping to specialize in European travel, it is important to become knowledgeable on the region, its cultures, and the companies that provide travel services there. It's also important to fully understand all of the cruising options available. Many of the major cruise lines offer training and certificate programs. These programs sometimes require that you pay a small fee, but in return you'll gain insight into that company's offerings, their booking system, commission structure, and how you, as a travel agent, can make the most of their setup. Training and certificate programs are important to keep travel agents informed and ahead of the curve.
The best way to become informed is to personally visit the area. Discounts and rewards programs are also available for travel agents. It's important that you take advantage of these opportunities so that you can assure your clients that you have first hand experience in the area. Nothing is more confidence boasting to a wary traveler than the knowledge and expertise of someone who has been there before them.
There are also many cruise focused conferences that you should consider visiting. Before committing to a conference, look at who is hosting and sponsoring the event. Make sure that the list of attendees includes companies that are of interest to you. Also make sure you use these opportunities to make connections both within these supplier companies, as well as with other travel agents. Other travel agents can be an invaluable source of information for you.
Marketing European Cruises
It's important as a travel agent to think outside the box when you market cruises to Europe. Consider reaching out to groups that regularly travel to the area. If you can make connection with such groups, you will have regular and consistent business which will substantially build your clientele.
Certain organizations are more likely to travel to Europe than others. Consider reaching out to local schools. Some high school bands travel to Europe for concerts. Study abroad programs are also a great source of clients. Even if you don't directly work with the program, the parents of children studying abroad is a great source of business. Many parents will visit their kids in Europe at least once during the semester, and many will enjoy a cruise while they are in the area.
Other groups that visit Europe and may be interested in a cruise include churches. schools, educational organizations, book clubs, groups affiliated with museums, and retirement clubs. Broaden your outreach efforts and you'll be able to diversify your clientele.
River Cruises in Europe
River cruises have become a popular and unique way to experience Europe. They allow visitors to see several different countries without the hassle of bus or train travel. They also offer a more personal and intimate atmosphere than ocean cruises, as the ships are much smaller.
One of the most popular river cruise companies in Europe is Viking River Cruises. There are others that exist though, so familiarize yourself with each company to make sure that your client gets a vacation that is best suited for them.
Popular routes through Europe include going from Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. This cruise includes stops in Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. If you client hopes to see more of Eastern Europe, the trip from Budapest to Bucharest is a good option. It travels through Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, and Bulgaria. It's also possible to travel through Portugal on a river cruise, visiting places such as Porto and Pinhao. The diversity of options is quite endless. Begin by discussing with your client what they hope to see during their trip. Are they history buffs, interested in culture, or more interested in the culinary side of the region? All of these factors will come into play when you select a geographic region and cruise company for them.