Cruise Experts vs. Booking Engine: A No-Brainer

by Ming Tappin

You are better than a computer! A cruise expert can help guide clients to select the perfect cruise.

Building a solid relationship and earning your clients' trust - something an online booking engine can never do.

Exude enthusiasm and go tell the world you are a cruise expert! 

Online technology was supposed to be the death of the travel agent. But lo and behold, 25+ years later, we are still alive and kicking. Although improvements to the interfaces and the propensity for more and better mobile apps still creates jitters. Should you be worried? 

Not if you are a well-educated, ambitious cruise expert passionate about your trade. You can offer so much more than the pretty pictures of ships, beaches and turquoise waters online. You can actually talk about what's in the photos, elaborate on the anticipated experience (remember my article about selling the intangibles?) and provide inspiration to cruise, whereas an online booking tool can do none of the above. Here are a few more ways you are better than the machine: 

  • A cruise expert will take the time to properly qualify clients and uncover their needs, then recommend 1 or 2 ships that best fit those needs. An online booking tool will ask for travel dates and destination, then offer up a myriad of options and price ranges to weed through. A couple looking for quiet solitude may end up on a party ship, young honeymooners may end up cruising with seniors.
  • A cruise expert can advise where the best cabin location is - the online booking engine will simply offer the next available stateroom, even if it is underneath the nightclub or next to the noisy elevator corridor. A cruise expert can help a client choose the dining option by pointing out pros and cons. A booking engine offers the choices without any guidance on which is better for that specific client.
  • A cruise expert will answer queries and research on client's behalf. A booking engine will direct them to the list of FAQs online. Is there a benefit in cruising eastbound vs westbound through the Panama Canal? Why should clients sail to Alaska from Vancouver instead of Seattle? A booking engine will never be able to address such specific details, factors which might affect a client's enjoyment. 

As a cruise expert, you will take the time to build a personal relationship with the client, learn their likes and dislikes, keep track of travel preferences, and reach out periodically to say hello. An online booking engine only cares about getting their name, address and credit card, and sends an automated thank you note to their inbox. 

In short, an online booking engine will never exude enthusiasm, look out for the clients' interest, or counsel them to make an educated choice. In fact, an online booking engine spits out prices and does not try to convince a client that cheaper isn't always better. And in today's price-conscious world, there is a high chance that clients could end up on the wrong ship. But does the booking engine worry about getting them back as repeat clients? Probably not.

Now wasn't that a feel-good exercise? We have to face the reality that the online technology is here to stay, but it will never take over as efficient, human cruise counsellors. But your clients won't know unless you tell them how special you are. So let's go out there and be heard - the world needs cruise experts, and you are one of them! 

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 37 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of

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