Carefree Cruising


Dear Travel Agent,
Let me confess to you that I have many reasons to love cruises. I have taken quite a few and one of the best parts is to unpack, put my suitcase under the bed and be taken to places instead of “living” out of my luggage. I prefer not to pack almost every day, change hotels and move to other places just to have the pleasure of seeing different sights.
I wish that all countries and cities were surrounded by the sea so I could see the entire world without leaving the cruise! That would be awesome. Stopping few blocks from the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu or even Petra! That was my mood when I decided to go to Cuba on a cruise instead of by land. I had a blast on a cruise for 700 people, and felt like I was reunited with distant cousins during Thanksgiving or Christmas. We all had big smiles and there was kindness all around.
What a fun trip! Havana was a blast for 2 days, then on the sea for one day, and onto Cienfuegos. After leaving Cienfuegos, we all were excited to see Santiago de Cuba. We had a seminar onboard to learn about what we would see; visiting Fidel’s grave and so much more. But, by 9 in the evening we all heard from the captain that one person was so sick (actually we found out later there was a crew member who had a heart attack), we had to return to Cienfuegos, and would unfortunately miss visiting Santiago de Cuba.
Previously, on a Mediterranean cruise, we missed going to Morocco (the highlight of our cruise) because of concerns of security! We have all heard stories about the whole cruise having to be quarantined because of a bad virus or flu, or having to return to port early for other reasons.
Unfortunately, travel insurance will not cover the interruption of a cruise in many cases. Money will not be refunded for many different reasons. Despite all the great reasons we love to cruise, taking a land tour is more protected, and we can demand that tour companies fulfill their promises. Travel insurance would have offered better coverage for the parts of the trip we missed if we had been traveling by land, not sea.
Check into travel insurance that will best serve the types of tours you sell to your clients. Make sure you understand very well what is covered and what is not, and be sure to explain the limitations clearly to your clients. Explain to your cruising clients that a cruise line can cancel part of the itinerary if necessary, and that you, as their travel agent are not at fault, nor can you do anything about the cruise line’s decision.
We don’t have much control in the case of cruises, but for land tours, we have someone with whom to talk to about issues that arise.
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twitter @ travelRosana
Facebook @ Rosana Chermisqui

I want it cheaper!

Dear Travel Agent,
Those of us who have been in this business for a long time and those who have just started all have at least one thing in common – clients (or prospective ones) who ask for everything cheaper: hotels, airfares, tour packages and everything else under the sun.
Why not? They saw an advertisement on the internet! They heard it from a friend. They even saw a deal on TV.  They wonder what kind of professional we are if we cannot give them a deal!  I know many of you have your own ways of dealing with clients like these. Some of you charge for your time and to provide a quote, good for you!
Some of you are full-time travel agents and some are part-time. Some work only with family and friends, and some AVOID family and friends (like me, LOL!)
Every time a travel agent asks me how to handle clients who ask for a cheaper price no matter what or when, my honest advice is to:
1- Take a deep breath (or 2 or 3)
2- Remind yourself why you are in this business
3- Know that because you have more knowledge than your client, YOU and ONLY YOU should take control
4- Ask the necessary questions: When do they want to travel (high or low season)? How many people? What are the components of the trip? (Hotel and transfers only are cheaper than an all-inclusive and all tours!) Most importantly, ask what are they willing to trade to make it cheaper.
5 -By questioning them (with a smile and lots of kindness), we make the client THINK they are in charge of their “fate” and price. I believe some clients need to be educated on a few points, such as that high season is pricier than low season. And that including all tours would be pricier than if they did transfers only (and that this is not a good choice, especially when in a foreign country, no matter what language). Even if you are 100% sure the client knows these things, remind them of all these points.
6- Keep in mind that if a client raises their voice or interrupts when you are speaking, you should lower your voice as much as you can. It is hard to “argue” alone, especially with someone who keeps voice low.
7- Watch how they become more flexible!
8- Repeat the process if necessary.
For those of you who have some different tactics, I would love to hear about them and share with other travel agents. After all, “Travel Agents Rock!”
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Twitter @travelRosana
Facebook @Rosana Chermisqui

What Sells the Most?


I have a theory that people feel more comfortable selling what they like themselves better than what they don’t. Let me explain myself more clearly. Travel agents who enjoy cruises have an easier time selling cruises than selling land packages, and vice versa.

I have spoken to many travel agents who have only experienced cruises to the Caribbean and feel very comfortable selling them to their clients. I don’t blame them. After all, they know the product and can personally recommend it. But what if their prospective client wants to experience a safari? Or to discover The UAE? Or even to start experiencing the Seven Wonders of the World? Chances are, as a travel agent, you would have to refer your prospective client to another expert, OR get out of your comfort zone, and learn more about land packages.

Now, my question to those of you who are experienced with cruises in the Caribbean, should you be proactive and start learning more about other destinations and other kinds of packages, or should you specialize in cruises?

I ask the same question to those agents who avoid selling cruises and feel more comfortable selling land packages. Should you start learning about cruises for your prospective clients in case they request one, or specialize in land packages, or specific destinations and types of activities?

My honest opinion is that you can choose to go either way. You can specialize in some areas or destinations and be the best you can be. Another option is to learn as you go, but for that you will need to rely on Tour Operators who are travel agent friendly, that take their time guiding and teaching, who have a great reputation, and most importantly, will help you look good to your clients.

There really isn’t a better way; it all depends on the direction you want to take your business.

Remember, travel is a business where the clients are seeking fun, and they are looking for a reliable and caring travel agent. You, the travel agent, should enjoy what you do, show how much fun travel is, keep smiling and make it easier for the traveler. Don’t stress over it. Do what makes YOU happy and your clients will feel rewarded!

Travel agents rock and you are awesome!

For more guidance follow me on Twitter @travelRosana

Instagram @travelwithrosana


It Takes 2 to Tango

TangoDear Travel Agents,
How many of you have heard the expression, “it takes two to Tango”?
Even though I am Brazilian and married to an Argentinian, I appreciate watching a couple dancing the Tango, because I can’t.
That type of Tango is not what I am talking about today. I am talking about the “dance” that happens between a travel agent and a prospective client or even an established client.
Earning commission is enticing, and getting referrals is just awesome, but how we deal with prospective or current clients is the secret to success in our business.
We are lucky if most of the people we deal are pleasant, understanding and respectful, but once in a while we hear from the type of people who feel entitled; who think we need to stop everything just to answer their unstoppable phone calls.
How do we deal with the kind of clients that make our skin crawl, and are disrespectful, demanding and rude?
Being in this business for over 23 years, I can count on one hand the number of people who changed their attitude and ended up appreciating my efforts, after I worked so hard to help them. In most cases, I told this type of client that they should look for another person to work with, and afterward I felt relieved, happy and totally free.
How much is my freedom worth? It’s priceless!
As a professional, we need to have the trust of our prospective clients. With trust comes respect, and a willingness to work together. It takes two to Tango. If that personality match doesn’t happen, don’t feel it is your fault, don’t take it personally, just let it go and move to the next. Be respectful and tell him/her to find another agent who will better suit his/her needs. Don’t drag it out too much, and don’t try to change anyone. This is just how serving other human beings works. Sometimes what we need to do is simply find another client who is willing to do the dance!

Feel free to contact me at

The Right Travel Agent


Dear Travel Agent,
For many years, I have had the discussion with people in the travel industry as to whether or not a good travel agent needs to be a good sales person.
I have had the opportunity to interview and hire many travel agents for positions within my tour companies. I have to confess that a few times, being desperate, I have ended up hiring sales people with great experience in “sales.” Because I was very hands-on during their training period, I watched them relate to our clients, most of whom were travel agents themselves!
I saw a difference between the new sales people and the travel agents in my office. The sales people were interested in one thing: to make the quota and reach their target. The travel agents were more focused on service; making sure clients would remember their names, and a putting forth a distinct effort towards client retention and referral.
It amused me how the sales people would transfer calls to me or another manager when they felt the client’s needs went beyond their “duty” of selling. If a client had questions, it was time to transfer the call. “Time is money” was like the air a sales person breathes, and “next call” was stamped on their foreheads. Sure, if we had changed our business the next day to selling books, or shoes, or clothes I am confident they would have done an excellent job.
So, I ended up hiring only travel agents to work for me, even those who had just left school. Yes, training was sometimes hard. Some were shy or not very confident, but they all had one thing in common: a passion for travel. That definitely came across on every call, in addition to how much they cared for and about our clients.
I used to have a small mirror on each desk that said, “What you see is what they hear!”
I asked them to smile and to be present in their conversations, to show how much they cared, and they always ended up closing sales over their quotas, with the advantage of having repeat clients.
I know “Travel Agents Rock” because they really care!
For more information, follow me on Instagram @travelwithrosana or Twitter @travelRosana