3Qs for Cruise Month: Geraldine Ree, Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Geraldine Ree, Godmother of Viking Eistla, aboard the river cruise ship at the christening ceremony.

In honor of National Plan a Cruise Month, TMR is interviewing executives from across the travel industry.

Today's interview is with Geraldine Ree,  Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

What advice would you give travel agents selling cruises for 2016?
The U.S. economy is strong, which is great news for travel agents. We know people are cruising again so it’s up to agents to let those travelers know why they should book with YOU. What added value will you provide for them? How will you help to not just book their vacation, but make it truly spectacular? At Expedia CruiseShipCenters we really encourage our agents to be proactive in reaching out to their customers and prospects to continuously build those relationships and keep their services top of mind. Wave season provides an abundance of opportunities to do just that.

My advice to any agent would be to take the time to understand the pre-Wave and Wave offers from cruise lines as soon as they come out so you can make recommendations immediately to your clients. You’ll not only be able to provide them with great value, but also showcase your expertise and knowledge on what each cruise line provides. Really use your skills to “know your customer” so you can match customers to the right cruise.  That’s what differentiates you from your competition.

What do you think cruise lines and travel agents might better understand about working together?
The strong partnerships Expedia CruiseShipCenters has developed with our preferred cruise line partners over the past 28 years is really a result of our organization-wide focus on supporting our partners who support us, and the travel agent community at large. When cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, or Norwegian provide exclusive offers that customers can only get by booking through us, our sales with those lines increase substantially as a result. Our agents get bookings and in turn, we’re helping our preferred partners reach cruisers that they would not have had access to before through the recommendation of a trusted professional. It’s a win-win for both sides.

What will you be doing differently in 2016?
One of the things Expedia CruiseShipCenters really excels at is booking first-time cruisers and turning them into repeat clients who come back to us again and again. When our agents consistently deliver Our Promise during every interaction with a customer, we know they’ll come back to us because they’ve built that relationship. In 2016 we’ll continue focusing on those new cruisers as well as the growing multi-generational cruise market with a brand new promotion we’ll be launching in 2016 that we’re very excited about.

Internally, our biggest focus next year will be on giving our agents reasons to proactively call their clients. We’ll be implementing some really innovative uses of technology to help our agents segment their databases and reach out to contacts at the time they’re most likely to book. We’re always on the lookout for ways to leverage technology to provide even better service to our customers so we’ll continue searching for opportunities to do that through 2016.


Top 5 Conversation Starters About Travel Insurance

Most travelers understand the need to have travel insurance, and most will agree to purchase it, if the option is presented in a clear way by their trusted travel advisor.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
What Travel Agents Need to Know About California Consumer Privacy Act Regulations

Learn what all travel agencies need to know about how the proposed new laws may affect the collection and use of personal information, and how to comply with the regulations.

Online Hotel Booking Scams Cost Consumers $5.7 Billion Annually

Nearly one in four consumers are deceived by online booking scams and dishonest marketing practices by fraudulent and misleading travel websites.

AIG Travel Guard Insurance Plan Changes Upset Advisors

The major travel insurance provider has altered its core offerings and eliminated commission protection, causing many agents to reconsider selling their plans.

First Travel Agency In-House Video Production Studio Opens in Toronto

The studio helps luxury travel advisors connect with their clients through high-end, professionally produced video content.

Travel Advisors Say They’re Unafraid of Biometrics

Despite heightened privacy concerns, travel agents are enjoying the benefits of current facial recognition technology used for security purposes, and they look forward to more.

Advisors Have to Work Harder to Deliver Authentic Culinary Travel Experiences

With more companies offering more standardized experiences, satisfying high-end culinary travelers has become more difficult.

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

"Reputation, experience and professionalism certainly come into play. But then you have to count on the X-factor, which really comes down to chemistry."

Matthew Upchurch


Daily Top List

Best Airports for Layovers

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson International
  2. Los Angeles International
  3. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
  4. Singapore Changi Airport
  5. Munich Airport Centre, Germany

Source: Travel Channel

TMR Outlooks