Travel agents’ confab

Cayman’s travel agents were brought up to speed with latest industry developments and received awards at a seminar on Monday.

The get-together, aboard the Celebrity Eclipse, was organised by A&A tours, which represents land and sea tour operations and holidays for a variety of clients, including Sandals, Contiki, Trafalgar and cruise clients Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.

Sandi Hurson of A&A gave a presentation before the group of around 15 agents toured the Eclipse.

“These events are very important because not all the travel agents on these islands have a first-hand knowledge [of the cruise tours]. For years and years they may have been booking flights and cruise tickets but not venturing forth into tours, cruises and so on.

“In the industry as it is today when airlines are cutting back on their commissions for travel agents, this is still a steady way for agents to make commission, through booking land tours and cruises. We have had to spend a lot of time and effort coming out to inform and train them on our products, and bringing them on board is one of the best things we can do,” said Ms Hurson. She added that not everyone had experienced a cruise first-hand and that it was a good way to give people an idea of the set-up.

It often meant the agents would go back feeling inspired about how to present the trips to their clients, she said, which was very helpful in moving business.

“You learn a lot coming on these ships and seeing it first-hand. Things have been a little bit tough last year and early this year as well, but cruises work well for us,” said Mindy Scott-Hennings of Cayman Travel Service, which was presented an award for best sales on-island in 2010.

Good feedback

Linda Gayler of International Travel, which received an award for second-highest sales, said the visit had brought home the good feedback she got from passengers who had been on trips aboard the Eclipse.

“These seminars are very informative because they are upgrading ships all the time, so you get to know what they are doing and what’s new.

“Across the board it has been a bit slow, but people like to cruise. It’s good value for money and if you don’t have the money to do a seven-night cruise you can do a two- or three-night one,” said the travel agent.

The industry is coming through a very tricky time, concluded Ms Hurson, who hoped there were better times in store.

“Everybody had a hard time during 2009, but 2010 saw an immense increase in sales. We are just hoping that by getting out to the industry early in the year, showing all the products and services we have available, we can keep up the momentum and 2011 will increase again.”