Becoming a travel agent these days isn’t like what it use to be. There’s no going to the office, brick and mortar requirement. Most agents work from home and book for clients online or over the phone. This helps bring down the cost of overhead and allows many people to work as an agent in any capacity and on their own time. All of this applies to someone who is looking to become a cruise line travel agent as well.
So what is a cruise line travel agent? This term refers to anyone who specifically books cruises for clients. It’s their main focus. And it’s a fantastic idea and cruises tend to earn travel agents the most commission overall on a booking.
So if you’re wanting to get into the travel industry and more specifically book cruises for your clients, you’re on the right path. We have 3 simple steps to follow to become an actual agent who sells cruises today and earns commission doing so. But first let’s answer some commonly asked questions.
What is a Cruise Agent?
A cruise agent is someone who helps a vacationeer through the booking process of a cruise. This includes choosing the destination, the ship, the dates, any cruise activities, room type and location as well as transportation to and from the cruise terminal.
While it seems like a lot of steps to take, booking a cruise for a client is a fairly simple process and usually takes about 15-20 minutes online to complete. In most cases the client will already know where they want to go, for how long and some of the activities that they want. Typically the cruise agent is in charge of booking the cruise and room and from there can let the client choose and book their own extras, add-ons, and the schedule of each day.
This is commonly done through an online booking engine that looks very similar to a consumer-facing one.
How much do cruise agents make?
Cruise agents typically make 10% or more of the pre-tax price on a cruise. So if a cruise costs $5,000 before taxes, the agent will usually earn $500 on the cruise booking. However, many agents tend to work with host agencies who pay a percentage of that commission and in return host the agent by providing access to the supplier plus on-going support and training. In this case an agent tend to make between 50%-70% of the earned commission.
On a monthly basis, cruise agents usually make somewhere between $2,500 to $5,500. It all depends on how many bookings you complete each month. The average cruise booking pays about $400.
Do travel agents get better cruise pricing?
In a sense, yes; travel agents can get better cruise pricing for clients. Because most agents look for the best deal for their client, this tends to apply not just before a booking occurs but after all, meaning, a travel agent will continue to look for a better deal even after the cruise has been booked. This can include special offers like kids sail free or a room credit for the guests.
Also, many cruise lines give cruise agents the opportunity to help their clients save by offering them on-board credits to share. These credits can be used by the clients once on-board and tend to cover any incidental charges including drink or merchandise purchases. They may even go towards excursion bookings. Either way the client saves money.
For personal bookings done by the cruise agent, they can save up to almost 70% off a cruise. This is typically earned when an agent completes some training and has an industry ID card. Some cruise lines even offer free cruises to agents who reach a certain level of training.
How to Become a Cruise Line Travel Agent
Any person out there who has interest in becoming a cruise line travel agent can. Even if you don’t have any prior experience in the travel industry or with cruises, you can do it. And you can get it done in 3 simple steps:
- Join a host agency – This will save you a lot of time and money. A good Host Agency provides you with access to the cruise supplier, training and on-going support. They also take care of commissions when it’s time to get paid. We highly recommend Boardwalk Travel Agency as they have only one cost, pay a high % of commission and have fantastic on-going support for their agents.
- Complete your training – Once you’ve joined an agency you’ll want to register and start your training with each cruise line. We recommend starting out with the major players including Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line. 90% of your clients are going to want to sail on one of these cruises so it’s best to train and learn to book them.
- Start booking – Yes, the third step is to start booking clients and earning commission. We’ve seen agents join a program like Boardwalk, train and then book a friend or family members cruise within just a few days!
One thing you’ll want to make sure of is that you have the right equipment to start booking. This means you have access to a computer, internet and a phone. We also suggest you have a quiet place to work from.
A cruise agent who is knowledgeable about the cruise line their client wants to book is a powerful one. Being able to make suggestions like what activities they can do on-board the ship, the best room location, add-ons that are worth the cost and entertainment that must be seen are priceless to the client. So when you do your training be sure to take notes and really learn about each of these things.
A powerful cruise agent is also a valuable agent in several ways. First, their knowledge makes them stand-out from the rest. It’s true that any client has many choices when it comes to choosing a travel agent to work with so you’ll want to make sure that you make a very good impression the first time. Second, providing the very best experience for a client usually means referrals for the agent. When this happens, you’ll find that your business just snowballs into something bigger and bigger.
Cruise Line Host Agency
Choosing the right host agency is one of the most important steps you can take to being successful. A host agency will either make or break you based on how you’re treated and what you’re offered.
A few things you want to make sure of:
- Low fees – You want to join a host agency who has little upfront and ongoing fees. These are typically charged on a monthly basis and usually come after a buy-in fee of some sort. This buy-in or membership fee can range from $100 to $250 depending on the agency. We recommend Boardwalk Travel as they offer a membership for $99 with no on-going, monthly or yearly fees. It’s just a one-time $99 fee to join.
- High commission – Some host agencies offer new agents between 50%-65% of all commission earned. This means that if you book a client and the commission is $500, the host agency will pay you $250 of it and keep the rest. This is VERY common when it comes to host agencies as it helps them continue to manage agents and provide on-going support. We like Boardwalk Travel because they start every agent at an industry-high 70%. This means you keep more of what you earn.
- On-going support – You always want to make sure that your host agency is providing you with on-going support when you need it. So when you have questions, which you will, you can get them answered. A company like Boardwalk Travel offers online chat, email, phone and forum support which is exactly what you want.
- Space – A good host agency will give you space to work your own business, your own clients and your own marketing. You don’t want an agency who is peering over your shoulder 24/7. Because you’re an independent contractor you should be able to work like one.
- Quick payouts – Find a host agency who will pay you quickly once travel has taken place. Some host agencies pay net 30 or even net 45 meaning, they don’t pay you until 30-45 days after your client has traveled. Find someone who pay within 7 days or less. Even better, find someone like Boardwalk who will pay within 48 hours or less.
- Benefits – Host agencies can get you access to agent benefits like discounted cruises. Make sure you choose one who will allow you to do this early on, after making 1-2 bookings. Benefits are a great way for you to learn and experience in person and make you a better seller over-all.
Becoming a cruise line travel agent isn’t as hard these days as it was in the past. This is because most work from home and independently than a brick and mortar store. Cruise agents are able to help save their clients money on cruises by continually searching for the best deals before and after a booking. They can also give out on-board credit when available.
Joining any agency and getting ready to sell can be done in three simple steps. Join, train and start selling. A host agency like Boardwalk Travel can help you achieve this faster than anyone else. They also offer one of the best programs online that includes no on-going fees, agent support, high paying commission rate and online training.